‘Dead Space 3′ successfully changes up the format

DeadSpace.com

Brave space engineer Isaac Clarke tries to avoid a battle axe hug from a not-so-friendly undead monster.

Matt Grippi, Diversions Editor
February 11, 2013
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

In 2008, “Dead Space” was released and gave us a new way to experience survival horror in a video game. The game managed to combine the hugely popular “space marine” genre and add an element of claustrophobia and fear, which made it one of the scariest games ever released on a next-generation console.

Five years later, the game has spawned a full-blown franchise, and “Dead Space 3″ has been released for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

When releasing the third game in a horror franchise, the developers have to ask themselves if they can keep the game scary even though players have seen everything before. “Dead Space 3″ fails to live up to the scares the first two games generated, but despite this, it still manages to be satisfying.

The combat mechanic of severing enemy’s limbs rather than focusing on headshots is just as enjoyable as ever. It’s always more interesting when a game forces the player to conserve ammo and go for precise shots rather than just jumping into battle, guns-blazing like in a Halo game.

However, this game has added human “Unitarian soldier” enemies to the game in an attempt to incorperate traditional run-and-gun shooting segments. Thankfully, these are few and far between, but when they do happen, they seem out of place, making the duck-and-cover system seem clunky and not cohesive with the rest of the game.

The storyline is somewhat familiar. Huge alien artifacts called “markers” are turning human bodies into deformed mutant “necromorphs” that can only be killed by completely dismantling them limb by limb. Engineer Isaac Clarke is once again the only person who can go to the source planet of these monsters and stop them after a Scientology-like religious cult purposefully activates them on Earth.

The storyline isn’t incredibly original in single player, but the much-advertised co-op multiplayer adds a new character and a level of teamwork that has never been seen in a Dead Space game before. Unfortunately, the game has no split-screen local multiplayer, something that seems like an attempt by the developers to force you to buy two copies of the game.

With both the multiplayer and the various non-playable characters that Clarke interacts with in the game, “Dead Space 3″ definitely seems more open and less deserted than the first two games.

In the previous games, Clarke would only really interact with characters through a pane of glass or over an intercom. A feeling of bleak loneliness made the dark hallways and flickering corridors even more terrifying to navigate. Knowing you have buddies around to help you out when a gnarled undead monster busts through the wall in front of you makes the game a little less scary.

It seems as if the developers knew this game couldn’t live up to the previous ones in the fear department, so they worked on making it something different entirely, and that’s where “Dead Space 3″ succeeds. It’s interesting to take the Clarke character out of his helmet, take away his map and throw him on an unknown ice planet in broad daylight. It may not be as scary, but at least it’s different, and the worst thing a sequel can do is simply give you more of the same.

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