I had a chance to give this one a play through, if you haven’t heard of it, here’s the summary:

If you want the gear to survive Dead Space 3, you’ll have to build it yourself!  Battle enemies with your own custom weapons on a mission to destroy the  Necromorphs once and for all. Hero Isaac Clarke and soldier John Carver have  crashed on a frozen planet. Your engineering skills will be stretched to their  limit as you scavenge the icy world for parts to build weapons and the other  gear you need to survive. If you can survive the wilderness, you’ll meet a  Necromorph enemy that’s gained terrifying new powers in a battle to save  humanity from extinction. The epic story spans the entire planet and can be  played in single player or in drop-in/drop-out online co-op.

Overview

I’ll be honest, I’ve never played any of the Dead Space games and realistically only played this one because we wanted to add it to the review list because of the Kinect features. I feel this type of game, which is basically a survival horror 3rd person shooter with some puzzles thrown in, is probably not liked by everyone. It’s a niche genre, and unfortunately I’m not in that niche, however I felt I was fair when reviewing it. Anyhow, for an overview of it, I found it somewhat interesting, but it becomes repetitive which leads into boring. I’ll go into the details in the review. I also didn’t bother including any video of it, since there’s a lot of it out there, but the story is very intertwined that it’s actually hard to try to get only one mission, I’d suggest checking out the demo.

The Menu

The menu is categorized quite nicely. The main categories are Solo Campaign, Co-Op Campaign (which you actually need the online pass for and I didn’t have, so we’re skipping it), New Game+, Settings, Downloadable Content and Extras. As usual, I’ll break each one down.

Solo Campaign

This is the story mode of the game. Thankfully it rehashes some history for those that never played them to give you a brief overview of what’s going on. In a nutshell, there’s these alien devices called Markers that were found because the earth has consumed all energy resources and Markers provide unlimited energy, although for some reason they turn people into Necromorphs (maybe one of the other DS games explain why, this one doesn’t). Anyhow, from what I gathered, you want to stop these Markers and end up going to their home world as that’s primarily where the whole game takes place.

I’ll be honest again, this game is long in the sense of you can’t wait to finish it. It seems like everything is really dragged out, there are tons of objectives that have you back peddling levels like no other. That’s partly where the repetitiveness kicks in except it’s in overdrive. There were times I was scratching my head trying to figure out why in the world a 3rd one was made. For the gameplay itself, it is different. I’ll try to cover everything as in much detail as I can.

When you first start, you play a prologue episode and the tutorials teach you all the basics. After the prologue, you move on to play as Isaac and start your quest. There are all kinds of things in the game though, so I will give kudos to that. First are the suits or RIGs as the game calls them. The suits give you some bonuses and what not, but you can upgrade them to be more powerful such as health and armor. When I hit the first suit kiosk, it said because I’m a Mass Effect 3 addict, I unlocked the N7 suit. That may have been bad on their part because now I was going to relate this game to Mass Effect 3, and in a sense, I think the devs were shooting for a ME type of game, but it lacks way too much to really compare.

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One of the RIGs available.

When I started shooting the Necros, I realized they don’t die right away and thought it was kind of cool. Then I realized you can dismember their body parts along with stomping on them to loot them and make sure they are really dead and thought ok this may actually be a cool zombie/alien type game and I continued on. I then began to face stronger enemies and noticed a pattern, they basically just rush at you and you do your best to slow them down and take them out which really lost all strategic advantages. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good moments that made me jump but it’s just a mass chaos game.

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Necro’s keep rushing in…

Realistically, I enjoyed shooting the humans more than the Necros since they were actually intelligent. The game really does need a cover system though. If you like button mashing, there is a lot of it in this game. I guess these are the “action” sequences, but they get annoying, especially since any enemy can trigger one by getting real close to you.

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One of the many quick time events…

Speaking of shooting, let’s talk about the bench. The bench is where you can customize your weapons and craft items as well. Realistically, it’s overly complicated, not to me, just in general. You can literally spend hours trying to figure out what parts enhance guns. I made one gun and it took me about 30 minutes, which I thought was ridiculous. It’s cool that the weapons are that customizable, but again, it’s overkill. There’s also parts that are just useless such as scopes. If I recall, there were about 4 enemies that were long-range that a scope would have been useful, as for the rest of them, they just rush you, so there really isn’t a point.

Weapons can also have circuits added to them for more increased stats. This was a simple system although it made you have to really figure out what you want, as all of the circuits only have 1 or 2 bonuses so you have to decide what you want to sacrifice in order to have something else, which kind of made it annoying as well in my opinion. There’s also a blueprints section that lets you create weapons from blueprints that you find, I found this the most simple way to figure out what weapon you want to use. Realistically, throughout the entire game, I only used 3 weapons, and they kind of went in order. I didn’t want to bother wasting time trying to figure out what weapon would be the best so I went with whatever worked.

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Workbench weapon customization…this is just the beginning.

Lastly, in the bench area, you can choose to craft new items which include med packs, stasis packs and torque bars to get into special areas. There’s also a “safe” section which you can move everything to your safe, but let me talk about it for a minute. First, you need to be able to have a larger inventory. The 20 or so items has you constantly frustrated because it’s a collector type game in that sense, where you want to collect as much as you can. Using the safe to transfer items renders them useless basically since you can only get them at benches and they are fairly scattered. As you truck along, you also start picking up scavenger bots which if you listen to an audible sound, you can find a “hot spot” I’ll call it to rake in some rare resources. All of the materials found by scavenger bots get thrown into your stockpile for items and weapons.

As for the rest of the game, it’s pretty linear with some optional side missions which seem awfully long as well. There are puzzles to figure out which made it interesting, but they become repetitive and cumbersome. From what I have read, I guess this is the first version to have co-op gameplay. Co-op gameplay is always welcomed in my eyes, although when you play single player mode, why must you have to have a second player to play optional side missions. This kind of irritated me as most co-op games rarely make it mandatory to have a co-op player with you.

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Co-op gameplay

As for the story itself, it’s strange and in the ending parts, a lot of it makes absolutely no sense in a realism point of view. Even though the Mass Effect series is far-fetched, it’s actually quite realistic in the space/future era, taking part in the Milky Way and the story just fit together. This one I was confused on. There’s also things that confused me more, as you seem to have the worst luck in the world and always end up by yourself not with the rest of your crew, is Isaac’s life really that bad? I also found it strange that somehow your crew would always end up where you needed to go, yet you do all of the hard work getting there and its like nothing to them.

I suppose that’s really all there is to the game. I found it’s broken up into 3 types of gameplay, first you have your normal walking around in the outside environment, and then switches you to being inside buildings. The 3rd type mixes in flying around in space, flying around in a space shuttle and some iron man style flying near the end. It’s a basic wash, rinse and repeat cycle unfortunately.

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Flying through space kind of like Iron Man style.

New Game+

I did appreciate this mode as I love being able to start a new game continuing from where you left your character at so this made me a little excited. New Game+ has a few extra modes as well. The normal New Game+ just starts the story over and lets you continue your character. There is a classic mode that gives you the original Dead Space characteristics, from what the description states – only classic weapons can be built via blueprints, co-op is disabled, classic aiming is enabled and the difficulty level is hard. The next mode is Pure Survival, which doesn’t sound fun, because enemies will not drop health or ammo, everything must be crafted at the bench and the difficulty is hard again. The last mode is hardcore mode where you must beat the entire game without dying. It’s cool there are additional modes, this is just not the type of game that I want to play over and over.

Settings

The settings are pretty simplified. It’s broken up into the A/V Settings which allows adjustment of the brightness, music, voice, sound fx volumes and enable or disable the subtitles. The game settings lets you turn on or off the co-op partner locator, skip tutorials, vibration, aiming, retro mode (which you have to unlock but I guess it turns the graphics into 8-bit or something) and Kinect Speech Recognition.

The controller settings allow you to invert the x/y-axis for aiming and flight control. The controller map just shows you what buttons are mapped where and lastly, you have a list of every single Kinect command. There are a lot, so I’m not even going to bother listing all of them.

Extras

The extras area allows you to redeem content, purchase your online pass, track your progress and unlocks, see the previously on Dead Space movie and view the credits.

Better With Kinect

This is another voice only game. Again, I’m not impressed with voice commands and actually preferred to not use any throughout the entire game. It worked fine with the controller and found it more useful and faster. Unfortunately this is probably all we are going to see until the next generation of Kinect comes into play. I suppose the good thing is at least recognition worked when I did try it out.

Conclusion

Like I mentioned earlier, this one is probably for the certain person that enjoys this type of game. I know there’s quite a few out there since the sequels keep being made, but if I want to play a horror survival type game, I may just stick with Rise of Nightmares to be honest. Maybe it’s just something about zombies. Anyhow, if you are Dead Space fan, you will want this game. There are tons of things for you to do and as long as you like to keep playing it over and over, you won’t be disappointed. Also the graphics are beautiful which is always a plus. As for everyone else, I suggest checking out the demo as those levels are exactly like they are in the real game and you can fathom your own opinion.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Dead Space 3
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?