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  1. #1
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    Dead Space 3 Review - Xbox 360 by INTY



    Well, this is it, finished Dead Space 3. Incidentally I played this together with Hannah in the new co-operative mode for the Campaign. So, as I said with the review of the first game, Dead Space is a series that holds a very special place in my heart. I love it dearly for multiple reasons that highlight the developers, Visceral, as the very skilled game developers that they are. For fans like me there has been a large amount of concern with Dead Space 3 due to obvious amount of influence from the series Publisher, E.A. Publisher influence isn't a bad thing intrinsically, how ever considering the more well-known games E.A associate themselves with along with their business practices, there was a natural amount of large hesitancy for what Dead Space 3's change would bring to the series. In this review I'll be giving a lengthy analysis of the game as an overall product, compare it to the previous main titles in the series and comment on the changes. The overall rating shall be based on the overall product how ever. Be aware that this review does contain spoilers for Dead Space 1 and 2, and also that I have only played this game on the Xbox 360 Console, so especially in the game-play department, there may be some differences from what is commented on in this review across other platforms. I'm also aware in particular that the P.C version of the game has been speculated to be a terrible excuse for a Port. I can how ever assure you it's not due to TotalBiscuits coverage of it. If you're interested in getting this game on the P.C, watch his video.

    Writing, themes and aesthetic.
    Dead Space 3 brings the franchise to its most bleak stage, as far as the plot goes. Jacob Danik, leader of an extremist Unitology group, The Circle, has been attacking Gov.Sec buildings where Markers are being tested on, activating them across the world to bring upon an immense Necromorph uprising. Isaac is now tasked with visiting a back-water Ice planet along with a group of survivors, for details of a group of people that stopped a Necromorph uprising on the planet, in the past. Alongside fighting off Daniks men and old Necromorph creatures, Isaac now fights not only for his own survival, but for that of Mankind’s.

    Being a sequel, a largely important factor to Dead Space 3 is the writing behind it. It's odd what I have to say here but it seems as though the writing behind this game was managed by two different teams, of which the second took over from the first as soon as a particular key event in the game happened. The first part; very much seems to focus on that Isaac Clarke is no longer with Ellie Langford romantically (apparently they got together some time after Dead Space 2) and is now trying to win her back. Oh and don't worry, you're told this very early on in the game. I also do need to comment on this because, it's a good example of what I mean when I say, this 'first part of writing' in the game isn't that good and very out of place in Dead Space. 'Isaac wants to win back Ellie from her new absolute douchebag of a boyfriend.' I'm not kidding, that's the focus for quite a while-and the douchebag of a boyfriend is a really, really generic douchebag. It's a bit distracting from the games disturbing themes and apocalyptic plot when that sort of writing element is the focus. The 'first part' very much seems to comprise of the sort of writing elements you'd find in modern military movies or games, those sort of basic, life-based issues that people can associate with. As well as that, all of the characters until 'the second part', very much suffer from weak motivation and undeveloped character with little definition in behaviour. Isaac still talks though, don't worry. He's not relapsed.

    And the second 'part'...well, from here on it's totally fine, good in fact. Characters are behaving in a more mature manner and as is the writing, they start to focus more on what's going on around them in appropriate, and well-written ways. Some very good events happen within the plot that all are very intriguing and inspire a sense of urgency that makes really good use of the characters and their reactions to said events. It's a sort of thing I thought I'd never say in a review but, in the first part of the game, the writing and characterization is not very strong. In the second part, the writing just suddenly improves all together, and absolutely, giving you some very strong characterization, sequences and plot developments.

    Another thing I’d like to touch on with the writing is something rather interesting to do with the Co-op campaign. In most games that allow for co-op as well as a single-player campaign, when in Single-Player the would-be second player is just replaced with an A.I-and these are very usually terrible or unreliable-I'm sure you've all witnessed an A.I running into a wall or firing up in to the sky, or perhaps just slapping a fence while you're dying and in need of help. What Visceral have done here, is actually have the Single-Player Campaign and Co-Op Campaign have different events occur in them. In the Single Player the second character appears here and there with you alongside your mission, literally just like an in-game character would in cut-scenes, not actually joining you as a crappy A.I in the game.

    In the Co-op campaign how ever, the second player is never away from the first player. As well as that, the Co-op campaign holds even more writing intrigue, as when playing in Co-op, there are some exclusive missions that transpire, which revolve around the secondary character and his back-story, giving you some strong incentive to play Co-op. As for the writing in these missions…well, I don't want to go into detail here but, let's just say this. When I'm looking at Hannah run around in circles frantically, of her own control, while screaming ‘Dan, Dan are you seeing this?!’ while I'm seeing nothing out of the ordinary at all, you know the atmosphere of what the developers tried to do here was executed perfectly. One issue though with the Co-op is, a lot of the time in Cut-scenes the secondary character is completely ignored, is totally off-screen and just doesn't do anything. Some times he's there but, then he’s not. So yeah, Carver’s presence in cut-scenes could certainly have been better integrated given the lengths they went to in creating a back story and optional missions for the character.

    Overall, Dead Space 3’s characterization and writing is mixed. It's very confusing to say 'part' in this context, I know, but, yes in the first part of the game it’s weak, and then immediately as that un-designated section ends it entirely picks up with some very strong characterization and writing. The Co-op campaign's unique and differentiating events in particular are very strong and admirable, giving an incentive for you to try both. The writing I'd say is never ground breaking in Single-Player or Co-op, but like with Dead Space 2 it’s a good, self-supporting narrative fueled by the fantastic game-play and unnerving atmosphere. Speaking of which, let’s talk about the horror.

    Well, considering the evolution of the horror theme in the Dead Space series-or, rather the devolution of it, you can probably guess that with the difference from 1 to 2, Dead Space 3 doesn't actually attempt to be a horror. The best way I could describe this game's theme is that it's a tense game-and it is a very tense game. The Necromorphs, the general nature they create for combat and the games chilling atmosphere (that I've gone into detail on in the Dead Space 1 Review so won't do so here), do make you tense, which really adds to the combat. There are still jump scares in the game of course, enemies jumping down behind you or screaming at you from around a corner, but overall horror isn't even attempted in Dead Space 3. To be honest all they really do that's new in this game is 'disturbing' content, gross stuff I suppose. Good example of this would be with the Necromorphs in this game: they're all re-skinned versions, differently behaving as well that are old, old Necromorphs that are rotten, making their dusty, grotesque corpses all the more sickening. But, this isn't horror. This will naturally disappoint the fans of the series that felt as though this series was a credible horror franchise, so just be aware of that if you did feel the series to be a horror, and liked it for it. I didn't see it as such, so was not concerned.

    As for the games look, it is easily the most 'potentially' good looking Dead Space game so far. The graphics are very clear with some very smooth, some times complex lighting effects, highlighting the games great texture-work and very detailed and definitive models. How ever I say 'potentially' for a good reason. This is because Dead Space 3 seems to have taken a step back from Dead Space 2 in terms of its environment. I'm actually going to say considering the evident visual capabilities of this game, this game is much more guilty of very dull, dark and repetitive looking environments than the first title. It's worse in this game as well how ever due to a lot of room re-usage.

    The sound design across the board how ever, as has been the case with all games is fantastic. There are even some new small touches to the atmosphere to be impressed by, such as the player being able to hear their heart-beat quicken in an area with no oxygen/atmosphere, when a Necromorphs appears.


    A good idea of the average image you'll now see in Dead Space 3, and also of the new appearance of the Necromorphs.

    Gameplay

    Whereas Dead Space 2 didn't focus much on adding new core features, rather expanding what was there, Dead Space 3 does the Polar opposite, and seemingly changes a lot of core aspects in the game, while not expanding on what was there to begin with. I'll first comment on what's new before I get into detail on the changes. I'll start with mentioning that alongside the main story-line now, the game actually has Side-missions. The main game is split into 'chapters', in which your progress can not be reversed in your current play-through, and in specific chapters you can do certain Side-Missions. The missions don't play differently from the main story, and, honestly do feel there as an after-thought. The set-up also means that as you progress through the game, you can miss side missions, but thankfully there is a chapter select feature in the game that even allows you to revisit specific side-missions within chapters. I touched on that the Co-op Campaign tells itself differently from the Single Player, and this is mainly emphasized with that you get access to some specific side-missions exclusive to Co-op. As I said before, I won't go into detail on these as…they're deliciously clever.

    And on that note, of course-there is now a Co-op mode in Dead Space 3. *shrugs* I don need to go into detail any more here as I've commented on it enough in the review. That itself should go to show you that this Co-op mode is strong, and not a tacked on excuse for one. Co-op flows as smoothly as the Single-Player does, with the exception of the Secondary character/player, not receiving much attention in Cut-Scenes. Past that, it's simply put very competent. On the note of Campaign Modes Dead Space 3 also has an interesting selection of Campaign modes. As well as 4 difficulty settings in the regular Campaign, there is Classic mode, in which the majority of the games changes in 3 are reversed and or altered to accommodate what the previous 2 main games were like. Pure Survival mode disables enemies from dropping health and ammo, meaning you will have to use the games new item crafting system to make them yourself, and Hardcore mode…ahh, it causes me to laugh even more cruelly than the Hardcore mode in the second game did.

    I suppose having mentioned Item crafting, that I should mention that change first. The Store has been removed in this game, and credits are no longer an element. Instead of this, all items are now made at the ‘Bench’. Weapons, health packs, Stasis Packs, Ammunition, you make it all at the bench with various resources that you get through out the game as drops from your enemies, through searching the levels or through doing side-missions. You also have access to deployable robots that rummage around for resources for you. As well as that, weapons are no longer upgraded with Power Nodes, those are completely gone. Instead, you upgrade weapons with 'Circuits', that work in a similar way as Power Nodes, how ever specific found circuits upgrade specific aspects of any weapon they're applied to, including Damage, Rate of Fire, Clip Size and Reload Speed. Most importantly, there are now 'Weapon Attachments' that can be applied to weapons that are frankly insane.


    Don't lose your mind with this

    All right. The screen above shows you the various slots for parts you can attach to your weapon-and there is a lot of stuff you can do here. There's an issue of that you do only have 2 Weapon slots permitted in this game, how ever you can do things as ludicrous as having one weapon, under-slung another. For instance, as well as of course my Plasma Cutter which I swear by, I created something I call the 'Heavy-Handed Guard'. A Force gun with increased damage and self-protection from its own Under-Slung Rocket Launcher. At one point, Hannah had a Ripper that was Glazed with Acid, that could also fire electrified Bolas, which could be attached to the ground where they would rapidly spin to harm/kill anything that went near them. You can be, really, really creative here.

    The obvious down-side to this is that, there are a lot of combinations that really won't be useful. Also, there's a lack of clarity in the descriptions in the items, potentially meaning you could make something that sounds cool, how ever it's about as useful as a gun that fires screwed up pieces of paper that are glazed in fire that features an under-slung Foam Finger. If you've gotten far enough into the game to have a good knowledge of the weaponry and their potential attachments though, you can have a lot of fun with the variety of potential weapons you can make. You have to find the base 'blueprint' for a base weapon such as a Force Gun, and then you can start to play around with it, as well as buy some of the already available blueprints that are available to you in the Store. Another huge issue I have with this system, is that due to the ridiculous amounts of ammunition types that would need to be introduced into the game, the developers instead resorted to using universal ammo, meaning if you have some ammo it can be applied to all weapons. It's a very linear system that is honestly a bit insulting, and certainly on the lower difficulty settings, it means you have ammo given to you in far too much abundance.

    Overall? The new item interface allows for a lot of creativity and custom-approaches to game-play, as the guns in Dead Space always have, but this new system definitely polishes that. It also covers up that this game doesn't have many new weapons, only the Bolas being a creative one. This new system allows for a lot of new playability in the combat-and it's all still as satisfying as ever, especially now with seeing just what your custom monstrosity will do to a Necromorph, alongside the visceral feel it will naturally have. The new idea of having to craft items at the bench rather than through buying them at the store does well to add to the Survival theme of the game, though is also self-demeaned due to how leniently given the items can be. I'd say this discourages the games previously brilliantly enforced need to look around for things, how ever not immensely. It's a great system, all though I'd say it does break the pace of the game-play due to how much time you'll spend upgrading your weapons, as opposed to the old interfaces for item management.

    And what would you be using it on? The Necromorphs of course, of which I've praised in both reviews. The great enemy variety that individually requires different approaches in combat, each do very distinctive things and since Dead Space 1, have seen new such additions to their rank with every game in the franchise, not just Dead Space 2. How are they in this one? *shrugs* There are pretty much 2 new enemies that, don't, do much. Also I think the developers did 2 things to try and hide this issue. For one there was the re-skin of every enemy, very much changing their appearance to perhaps distract from the lack of new enemies. Also, some enemies are missing-and certain enemies in the game have had their abilities merged with the missing enemies-perhaps also to hide the lack of new enemies. I'm disappointed by this a lot frankly as, we've got so much more to play with through our arsenal now, but, less to use it on.


    A new enemy type ‘The Feeder’. Very much a replacement ‘Pack Member’.

    There are also still some annoying little things like Environmental instant kills-though with far less emphasis than in the previous games thankfully, and I should mention that currently the game is a bit buggy. I have very fond memories of needing to step away from a panel that both I and Hannah had to hold down a button to open, to find it not working, and resolving to the solution of going to the other end of the room, waiting three seconds, and then simultaneously charging down the buttons under the command of 'bumrush!', to have the box that the buttons opened fling open with bountiful goodies. I’m of course not praising the game for the good times the bugs brought on, as for other people fair enough it would be very annoying.





    Dead Space 3. As far as quality goes, I'd say it's the mid-ground between 1 and 2. 1 was a little bit of an unpolished product with some real innovation and solid game-play, yet leaving room for a lot of expanse and development. Dead Space 2 took that to heart and absolutely expanded in almost every way possible, without changing the formula of Dead Space. Dead Space 3, seems to retain a lot of the polish of the second game how ever due to certain backtracks to the first game, and changes that are consequentially problematic the game does place itself significantly below the quality of its immediate predecessor. Does that make the game bad? Not by any standard. The game is still a very solid experience, offering a fantastic playing experience that's boosted by the games tense themes and atmosphere-and more relevantly, for fans of the series I can definitely tell you this sequel does not disappoint-particularly not from a narrative perspective. I'll add as a fan of the series that the ending is particularly good-if feeling a bit rushed how ever. E.A's influence is obvious in the game within the sequences where you're fighting men-yes MEN, not Necromorphs with rocket Launchers at the top of fenced balconies while hiding behind cover, and of course with the very pathetic Business Model behind the Micro-Transactions. Even with that being present though, I can assure you this is a great game, just like the other 2 main titles in this series alongside it-the publishers influence doesn't affect that greatly. If this is your first interest in the series, I'd say play the previous ones first, certainly 2-but that you'd still possibly enjoy this, if what I've mentioned appeals to you.

    As for me, I'm glad to say I thoroughly enjoyed this game. Also if you're wondering why I didn't go into detail on the Micro-Transactions you can **** off and **** that noise with you! Just, ****ing Micro-Transaction that give an undeserved advantage in game-I don't need to go into more detail on that. I hear that this game is already receiving a D.L.C, so if it connects to the 'Severed' D.L.C from Dead Space 2, I shall be giving coverage to them both.

    -INTY
    Last edited by Vault Hunter; 04-10-2013 at 12:11 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member McConnaughay's Avatar
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    The game being miles ahead of the first, and not meeting the standards of the second game is basically the consensus that I got from my older-brother after he crammed the campaign into two-days. In a way, it reminds me of Gears of War, in that, the first game wasn't too great, and was very unpolished, but Gears of War 2 set the world on-fire, and while Gears of War 3 was deeper into the story, it wasn't quite on par, in my opinion. Good review.


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  3. #3
    Prosecuting with style Vyse the Legend's Avatar
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    Having played the game nearly more times than I care to count, think you are near enough spot on with your final score Inty.

    The game is certainly not a patch on Dead Space 2, but hasn't been ripped to shreds in terms of gameplay and narrative, making it still feel like a Dead Space game, just one that wasn't as polished as it could have been, with some aspects either left very ragged, or overlooked in favour of others.

    As was the case with your reviews of the first two games, really good review here too!

  4. #4
    WKD4496 Dark Seducer's Avatar
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    Not really a fan of the Feeders, I think they throw too many at you, the Force Gun and Stasis help, but in general I think the amount of new enemies the game introduces is a bit much, or overkill if you will. I think the amount of enemies the game throws in is an attempt to make people want to co-op in all honesty.

    Do find the more emphasis on action, and less on puzzle solving lets it down slightly, for me anyway.

    I am enjoying the narrative aspect, and find reading the text logs rather interesting as it adds more to the origin and current events, especially the Artifacts you find. All three games for me do have pretty good character animation, and impressive environments you can stop and take in at your leisure (after killing hordes of necromorphs). Also like to comment on the fact that Dead Space 3 has far better lighting than the second, not sure why the second was so dark, might mess with the brightness next time I play it, probably fix it somewhat.

    Roll is a useless addition to the third game aswell, the most useless uneffective "dodge" technique ever and finicky as hell. Crouching on the other hand I really do like, as it's fluid and not picky on actions you take while in crouch mode.

    I'm on chapter 14 at the moment and haven't read your review yet on risk of spoilers, but that's just my opinion so far on the game itself.

  5. #5
    Prosecuting with style Vyse the Legend's Avatar
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    I actually was the opposite way around regarding the roll and crouch. I found the roll to be quite useful at times, whilst the crouch and cover systems I thought were both a complete waste of space. Only time I used the crouch was to avoid the Feeders in a room or two, and that was only during my Hardcore playthrough to prevent unneeded fighting.

    Speaking of the Feeders, can't specifically speak on numbers, as I would guess there are still more of them, but DS2 did have those little infant like enemies who attacked in exactly the same way. So wouldn't say the pattern is different, just perhaps the amount you have to face at once. But no doubting the game is really focused on action, think that's often a complaint fans of the originals have with this game, especially those who desire the horror aspect more so.

  6. #6
    Disciplinary. INTY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vyse the Legend View Post
    I actually was the opposite way around regarding the roll and crouch. I found the roll to be quite useful at times, whilst the crouch and cover systems I thought were both a complete waste of space. Only time I used the crouch was to avoid the Feeders in a room or two, and that was only during my Hardcore playthrough to prevent unneeded fighting.

    Speaking of the Feeders, can't specifically speak on numbers, as I would guess there are still more of them, but DS2 did have those little infant like enemies who attacked in exactly the same way. So wouldn't say the pattern is different, just perhaps the amount you have to face at once. But no doubting the game is really focused on action, think that's often a complaint fans of the originals have with this game, especially those who desire the horror aspect more so.
    It's funny actually, I didn't really use the Dodge mechanic at all, until about my second play-through, at which point...heh, it's funny actually. After I'd finished the first play through I watched Totalbiscuit's WTF is of it, and him, never having played the series before, Dead Space 3 being his first was using the Dodge mechanic to attuned effectiveness, avoid Slashers and Wasters as they swung for him. From then I realized aye it's actually quite applicable ^^'. As for the Feeders, aye, like I said in the review they're just a replacement pack member with a few alterations.

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  7. #7
    Prosecuting with style Vyse the Legend's Avatar
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    Yep I was largely the same regarding the roll. I rarely used it in my early times with the game, a) because I just wasn't used to even having a roll in a DS game, and b), the game was so easy on Normal, that I didn't see much point in using it because most enemies were dead before they could reach me.

    On the harder difficulties though, I found it to be much more useful, especially when doing things like reloading, or trying to avoid a sneak attack from behind, as whilst nearly all enemies go down quickly, without a sufficient level of rig defence, your health bar will still take a fair hit if you get trapped by a couple of Necros. So using the dodge can really help getting you out of a tight corner.... just so long as you don't roll straight into enemies as I did now and then.

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    Disciplinary. INTY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vyse the Legend View Post
    On the harder difficulties though, I found it to be much more useful, especially when doing things like reloading, or trying to avoid a sneak attack from behind, as whilst nearly all enemies go down quickly, without a sufficient level of rig defence, your health bar will still take a fair hit if you get trapped by a couple of Necros. So using the dodge can really help getting you out of a tight corner.... just so long as you don't roll straight into enemies as I did now and then.
    Aha, I did the same with Hannah at the beginning of our Hard-Core run of all times for it to happen. I took of a Waster's legs, then rolled away from it to get a better view of its arms. Unfortunately where I rolled to triggered an enemy to spawn. I also tried to roll away from him, but, got blocked by the legless Waster. <=P
    I didn't die thankfully but I was stammering 'Oh not already no!'

    Oh **** the color from the sig doesn't match the new layout any more.
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    Wow, this was actually one of the best reviews for Dead Space I have seen, and that's saying a lot. For some reason, I always felt weird when I reloaded in this game. I don't know why, just a habit, but I must now ask: Does anyone else feel something such as a tingling when they reload? Quite awkward :P. Also, I played through it three times now, and for the first two times I never dodged, like INTY or some other players. Ugh, dodging is way more useful than I thought. Sort of.

  10. #10
    Looks great. I played it with a friend once and it was quite cool. He was better than me so I got kind of demotivated. But still a good game.

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