The third entry in the Sci-Fi/survival horror franchise, Dead Space 3 returns boasting new gameplay elements, terrifying visuals and a deep, although often convoluted storyline. An ice covered planet called Tau Volantis has been found along with the ruins of an old colony. It’s revealed that this planet is the Marker home world which spawns the undead Necromorphs. More startling is that someone apparently found a way to turn off the markers and stop the Necromorph outbreak.
You once again play as Isaac Clarke, the beleaguered engineer protagonist of the first two entries. Clarke has been living in hiding after the events of in Dead Space 2 but soon soldiers of the last battalion of EarthGov track him down to enlist his aid. He at first refuses until he finds out the woman he loves, Ellie Langford, has gone missing along with her team on Tau Volantis.
The action begins immediately as Clarke and the two soldiers are ambushed by Unitologist forces, a zealous order that has sprung up that worships the Markers. Isaac will travel to Tau Voltanis, first to find Ellie, and then to make his way across the frozen wastes of the planet, battling the Necromorphs and making an even more startling discovery about the planet and its nearby moon.
Dead Space 3’s story unfolds itself often in cluttered, confusing chucks but that is pretty much on a par with the previous games in the series. Subtlety has never been the franchise’s strong point. But what it might lack in comprehension it more that makes up with its visuals and ability to build tension. I’ve never played a game that took place in a snow covered environment that felt so real. You also feel like the strength of the wind and the show pelting you with threaten to knock you down.
The game’s soundtrack and sound effects meticulously add to the terror of the environments that you can feel as your heart pounds away, unsure of what lies behind the next corner. Noises come from all sides, and you’re often not sure if the threat is close or nipping at your heels.
Dead Space 3 introduces several new gameplay elements that make the game as much a shooter as a survival horror. First we get true drop in and drop out co-op play. Your partner will play as Sergeant John Carver and what’s cool is that the players will experience the game in different ways. One play may see something that the other does not or find himself trapped against a horde of Necromorphs. Co-Op play also opens ups several optional co-op only side missions.
The Weapons Bench is a new weapon upgrading system that allows the player to cobble together pieces of different weapons found within the game to create all new weapons. This can make for some ultra-cool weapon combos and while the process can be time consuming it is never boring and you feel like a mad scientist throwing together parts to make something completely unique. Also added is an organic cover system which will allow the player character to grab cover when it makes sense instead of having to always need to execute a button push.
And you will need all of the best weapons you can build to takeout the Necromorph enemies, including several new insidious versions. As always blowing the limbs off the Necromorphs is a great way to dispatch them but new enemies will require new tactics to kill them in the most efficient way.
Despite a storyline which is flat and sometimes repetitive, Dead Space 3’s deep weapons system, fantastic combat, and incredible graphics makes this one another winner. Figure upon 10 – 20 hours to complete the campaign, depending upon how many side missions you do and how much time you spend looking for loot. Grade B+