Floating by us untouched like the debris of a derelict spaceship. Dead Space 3 is all Dead Space ever was, is and ever could be. Dead Space 3 is not terrifying. Whether you're a cynic and you see this change as a cash grab, a chance to make the experience as user friendly and open as possible or chose to perceive this as a natural progression. In Dead Space, we had a character who never spoke. Therefore we could only assume he was terrified because we were. In Dead Space 2, Issac spoke. What he finally got around to telling us was that he really was terrified, but we were ultimately less so. By this game, Issac is a necromorph slaying veteran. Who sees space zombies as more of an obstacle than an unrelenting horror. My point being Issac Clarke is now a character that we sometimes control. He speaks his mind, he screams, he does bad ass things in cut scenes. Issac is no longer us, we're him.
I think everyone had a similar perspective coming into Dead Space 3. We read it in every preview and saw it in every promotion, action. Yep, there's definitely a lot of action in there. Don't worry; much of the same is present. They still have you dismembering the Necromorphs, instead of by the dozens; it's a bit more like the hundreds. There are still dark corridors beneath the most haunted air ventilation system I've ever seen. They may want to consider calling Troy from Community.When it isn't like Dead Space; it contains a lot of other gaming clichés. See if this modern gaming trope sounds familiar. Ever regroup with your team just to have the ground fall beneath your feet, separating you once again? Well get used to it, because it happens quite a bit in Dead Space 3.
It's a big game, biggest of the series. I don't just mean in action set pieces or copious amounts of dialogue. What I mean is the amount of stuff you're given to do. It comes off more like an RPG than any of us had the right to expect. Boasting optional missions and the best crafting system I have ever experienced in a game. Its areas are also far less linear than any of previous games. This is where Dead Space 3 succeeds.
Listen, I could sit here and tell you about the plot of Dead Space 3 but it's ultimately unimportant. My critique wasn't hinging on the narrative, the Dead Space series never has. What it sells in story and characters, it buys in atmosphere and lore.
Dead Space 3 introduces us to some horrifying new enemies, the most horrifying being Humans. The Unitologists have it out for our courageous engineer once again. Why are Humans so horrifying in a world populated by alien monsters, you say? They're horrific as a game device. We've been trained since Dead Space to dismember. Told head shots would do us no good. We bought into to this mechanic because it played so well into the game's weaponry. So why after all this time, all the limbs scattered across the floors of The USG Ishimura and The Titan Space Station, have they chosen to incorporate an enemy that does not congeal to that overall philosophy. From their first encounter to their last, it's unbearably apparent how awkward their inclusion is. They take cover, they shoot at you, they use simple tactics. They are a joyless bore to fight. It's a lot like the effect the "flood" had in Halo. In Halo, the covenant were so interesting and fun to fight that when the flood came it was a downgrade, not a gradual evolution.
Fortunately, as soon as you escape the first two chapters and the clutches of humanity, the game instantly improves. You find yourself on the other side of the universe in a ship grave yard. Large pieces float around you, sometimes towards you, forcing Issac and company to leave the ship. The time you spend gliding through space, the planet and its moon your constant backdrop will make something as insignificant as salvaging parts seem truly awe-inspiring. It fuels the narrative you perpetuate in your own head. The kind where you aren't playing Dead Space, you're just some astronaut taking his first step into uncharted space. It's one of the most atmospheric moments in the game, maybe in the series, a series which oozes atmosphere. Which is surprising because I thought you could only ooze two things.
The largest portion of my appreciation of this game should be attributed to the crafting system alone. It gives the game credibility. Its presence was incredibly reassuring against my growing feeling that Dead Space 3 was mailed in. From Dead Space to Dead Space 2, there were a lot of interesting weapons, but no matter what, none of them could topple the effectiveness of the mighty plasma cutter. It was refreshing to have a system in place with which I could not only improve the classics but also create my own.
Looking for resources and parts to make my deadly contraptions come alive. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein, hewing together anything I could find for my disturbing experiments. One of the first additions I made to my plasma cutter was a fusion based knife. Any necromorph that came close enough felt the stinging slice of its burn. From there I moved to a grenade launcher with a flamethrower for an alternative fire. I added modules that transformed my launcher to one that fired rockets and my flamethrower's flame to a cryogenic freeze that stopped my enemies frozen.
I took my fancy weapons and started exploring. In my travels I found many optional quests, quests that would yield lots of loot, loot to finance my killing machinery factory. It was a complex equation I was dead set on solving. Rounds coated with stasis, or a support mod that made it so when I used a med-kit, my partner felt its effects as well. I was enveloped in an ever expanding hunt for more. After all that's what Dead Space 3 is, more.
I suppose I only have myself to blame for the last few chapters and the frustrating mess they were. I played the entire game on Hard, because I had been lead to believe the difficulty was soft. This belief was true throughout the game until those final few chapters, where humans and giant alien monsters, (I mean like alien alien, another species of being that became necromorphs.) both of which were teeing off on my limbs and innards. Ammo exhausted and health spent, I limped to the finish line. Hobbling away, rather than standing and fighting.
Despite my problems with the final few chapters, they don't even challenge the frustration the last six brought in Dead Space 2. Unlike Dead Space 2, the final chapters were difficult but fit. The game's story leads you to some strange places and it appears to me those chapters serve as a ramp. Launching you into an epic fight against some huge three-eyed monster, that has you throwing markers with super-charged kinesis. The kind of stuff you can't walk into, you have to be thrown.
Dead Space 3 manages to succeed where others failed. It's disconcerting however, that number of franchises starting to do this, the Mass Effects or Resident Evils, those who have gone from crafting critical darlings to solely pining for commercial success. Much like those other games, Dead Space settled for what it could be upon first suggestion, never looking past a customizable 3rd-person shooter with a disturbing atmosphere. It could have been its own Bioshock in space. which embodies how a loyal fan feels while playing Dead Space 3. It's not the game we wanted, but it's the one we deserved.