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Dead Space 3 review

Solid
AT A GLANCE
  • Finally getting answers regarding the origins of Markers and Necromorphs
  • The addition of side missions and weapon crafting
  • Co-op makes the non-stop action immensely more enjoyable
  • The dull, bland environments
  • Hordes of Necromorphs that leave you feeling frazzled
  • The lack of memorable set pieces

Dead Space built its reputation on tension. In previous entries, it came in the forms of fear and anticipation. But in Dead Space 3, tension comes in a different flavor. Here, it's created by the stress of fighting wave after wave of Necromorphs, sometimes in groups so large that you won't be able to discern legs from arms from gaping maws. For all of Dead Space 3's new additions--optional cooperative multiplayer, a surprisingly deep weapon crafting system, and enjoyable side missions--the biggest change to come to the series is its evolution to an all-out action game with freaky monsters. As such, survival horror fans may be left wanting.

That transition isn't immediately apparent. During the introductory hours, Dead Space 3 feels like a natural extension of the series. You'll explore the harrowing hallways of spaceships abandoned long ago, hopeless and alone. You'll solve simple but enjoyable puzzles using a mixture of Stasis, Kinesis, and your own intelligence, and float through Zero-Gravity while avoiding numerous life-threatening perils. You'll even get to fly around gaping sections of space, filled with the debris and remains of a 200-year-old fleet. Granted, there's not much to do while free flying in space, but floating through the gorgeous, deadly vastness of it all is entrancing.

"During the introductory hours, Dead Space 3 feels like a natural extension of the series."

About halfway through the game, you'll find yourself on the the icy planet of Tau Volantis, the supposed Marker Homeworld. The setting is refreshingly new at first; the hostility of a never-ending blizzard is almost as isolating as the vacuum of space. But your eyes will beg for a change of scenery after a few hours of exploring the same-looking ice caves and abandoned storage facilities. The secrets buried on Tau Volantis, however, make the whole trek worthwhile. You'll finally get some answers about the nature of the Markers and Necromorphs: What they are, what purpose they serve, what their end-goal is. Dead Space 3's main story feels like the conclusion to a trilogy, and you'll be pleased with the amount of closure it provides.

Surprisingly, one of the game's more controversial additions--cooperative play--is one of its most beneficial, as playing with a friend is the best way to experience Dead Space 3. The endless onslaught of enemies quickly becomes tiresome when solo; strategic dismemberment goes out the window when you're alone in the middle of a monster mosh pit. Grab a buddy, though, and Dead Space 3 becomes a fantastic co-op game. Where solo players would struggle with how best to tackle large waves of creatures, two can effectively work together to shred those waves until all that remains is an endless sea of severed limbs and loot. Sure, doing so makes the scares a bit less frightening, but the non-stop action becomes significantly more enjoyable when you've got someone to watch your back.

"Where solo players would struggle with how best to tackle large waves of creatures, two can effectively work together..."

What's more, co-op offers some unique cutscenes and dialogue that you won't see otherwise. Isaac and newcomer Carver frequently banter back and forth during cooperative play, seesawing between antagonistic threats and good-natured exchanges, and it adds a nice touch of personality to both characters. Carver even has a bit of backstory that unfolds through co-op-only missions, where he experiences some vivid hallucinations Isaac cannot see, making him the more fun of the two characters to play. While Carver hears creepy, ghost-like whispers and occasionally gets sucked into his own mind to battle his personal demons, Isaac is unable to share in the experience of his partner. If you prefer to go it alone, though, the addition of co-op won't affect your single-player journey because Carver is largely absent.

Either way, Dead Space 3's deep weapon crafting mechanic is the primary means of preventing enemy encounters from becoming too stale. From acid-coated shotguns that also shoot saw blades to high-powered spike cannons mounted atop a Stasis-infused rocket launcher, the bizarre combinations of the awesome weapons you'll come up with are seemingly limitless. It's a bummer you can only ever carry two weapons at a time, though, especially considering you'll have access to more than ever before. There's a lot of moving parts involved with this system, and it's not explained very clearly--but tinkering with a weapon's stats and properties becomes a neat game of min/maxing once you get the hang of it. After adding a new gun to your arsenal, you'll be eager to test your deadly creation on some unsuspecting enemies.

"Dead Space 3's deep weapon crafting mechanic is the primary means of preventing enemy encounters from becoming too stale."

Some of the more rare resources and blueprints you'll need for crafting are hidden within the handful of optional side quests sprinkled throughout Dead Space 3. These are meaty, hour-long excursions, some of which provide interesting bits of historical context to the events that transpired in a particular area. Others house some of the game's more frightening encounters. All of them, however, will reward you with a giant cache of loot, which you'll take back to the crafting bench with a smile on your face. Indeed, resource-hunting is Dead Space 3's end-game; if you hope to build the baddest of weapons, you'll have to replay certain segments to obtain more crafting materials.

But the glee that comes with making shiny new toys will likely taper off before the credits roll, as Dead Space 3 can easily surpass the 20-hour mark depending on how much time you spend tinkering with weapons or completing side missions. Three or more hours could've been shaved off, because there's very little here to punctuate the non-stop carnage. Memorable stand-out moments are few and far between; pacing is definitely not Dead Space 3's strong suit. Sure, there are some really cool cliff-climbing segments, and plenty of explosions and flash, but these bits pale in comparison to the original Dead Space's creepy opening sequence, or the Sprawl's haunting daycare center inhabited by Necromorph-ed children.

"...there's very little here to punctuate the non-stop carnage."

As a solo experience, Dead Space 3 is the weakest entry in the series. The tension's still there, but it's the kind you can kill bullet by bullet until nothing is left except the dull pangs of tedium. But when you're dismembering Necromorphs with a friend at your side, it becomes a greatly enjoyable cooperative adventure. Just don't expect to feel much of that distantly familiar fear-based anxiety--in Dead Space 3, that's one terrifying monster that's nowhere to be found.

This game was reviewed on PS3 and Xbox 360.

More Info

Release date: Feb 05 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Visceral Games
Franchise: Dead Space
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

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38 comments

  • dave6675 - September 15, 2014 11:56 a.m.

    What a load of absolute drivel. Tedious, repetitive, cut scenes that can't be skipped, getting killed and having no idea who or what killed you, or why you got killed (even on the easiest setting). Not enough clarity on what you're supposed to be doing at times, ridiculous weapon building concept with not enough options to "try before you fully commit to using the parts you've collected". I've had enough! Games are supposed to be FUN!!!!!
  • Technodude - February 27, 2013 1:10 p.m.

    Completed DS3 a couple of days ago, safe to say I think it was a solid sequel to Dead Space 2. Questions answered, a bit more cinematic, stunning graphics and just an all around great game. One thing I would have wished for is that it was a bit harder. I played on hard since I've completed the first two games about 8 times each and it didn't give me much of a challenge at all, just frustration when I had to go back and forth to benches to build more ammo in the later portion of the story, because the gun I built guzzled the stuff up. I don't know whether being a fan of the series has desensitised my fear of the game, or if DS3 just wasn't that scary really. The first Dead Space will always be my favourite game, simply for the sheer feeling of isolation and paranoia you felt roaming the halls of the Ishimura. Dead Space 2 was great for a bit more storytelling and getting to know Isaac (something which I really thought would ruin the game, thankfully it went somewhere in the end and it was brilliant), but the third instalment did feel like a bit of a tag-on, despite a bit of clearing up about marker mythology. Overall: Good: -Nice storytelling -Weapon crafting is the best of any game I've played -Tau Volantis was a refreshing new setting (gorgeous too) -Action was a nice new direction -Still some jumpscares, the horror still prevails a little Bad: -Necromorphs were pretty boring, all recycled -Boss fights were SO frustrating and felt like content filler -Atmosphere lost a bit due to action -Humans as enemies, it just felt weird shooting living people with a plasma cutter (just personal opinion) -Single player did feel like it was left by the devs a bit towards the end of the game, I can see how co op would make it a lot better I still love Dead Space 3, and I'd recommend anyone to buy it, but there were a few things that, as a fan of the series, I wasn't quite too happy with.
  • FRYBOTH - February 21, 2013 1:26 p.m.

    *spoilers* Wow. I certainly did not love learning the story behind markers and the Necromorphs. There are too many games right now with the whole, "repeating cycle of extinction and we have to stop it." Giant moon monsters? Ugh. I would have rather just not known. It would probably be a lot cooler if we just never new what the markers did. They were just always a mystery. You don't always have to answer all of your questions. The only thing good about 3 is the new gun crafting system, and that the gameplay has remained intact. Which, after long enough is going to have to change or evolve somehow or it will get boring. I think this is about the limit with the 3rd game. It's the same shoot off a leg shoot off an arm, dead necro. Dead Space 2 seemed like a step in the right direction. A good evolution of the franchise. Dead Space 3 feels like it has stagnated (aside from gun crafting). The story went to crap, the characters are horribly bland, every plot point is predictable and uninspired, every scare is a loud noise and something jumping in front of your face. There's nothing that makes you think at all, or gets inside your head. This game just made me sad.
  • Rhymenocerous - February 11, 2013 11:17 a.m.

    What an awful, sellout, Bieberfied, EA-ized (?), self-destruction of a previously great, atmospheric horror game. First Resident Evil, then Silent Hill, now Dead Space. What's happening...?
  • SabreWing - February 12, 2013 2:04 a.m.

    Aside from the usual "Gears of Duty: Combat Deception" you're likely to hear, I think the biggest problem is using the same protagonists. Isaac has survived 2 situations in which he fought the same enemies with the same weaknesses. If you think about it rationally, Isaac will most likely grow desensitized and more paranoid (not to mention experienced), causing him to be more prepared, and therefore removing much of the horror. Eventually that's what has happened to Resident Evil. The world became accustomed to zombies and the main characters have (rightfully so) founded a number of organizations to deal with the problem. In my eyes it's a realistic course of events, but it doesn't make for good fan service. They shouldn't be afraid to switch to "greenhorns" more often to prevent all the boulder crushing and expert aim.
  • sebastianhamilton - February 11, 2013 7:42 a.m.

    The most disappointing part about DS3 is how much easier hard is compared to impossible. :[
  • Slight - February 7, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    This review pulls a lot of punches that it shouldn't if you ask me; way too nice. There is so much that went down the drain in DS3, everything from the boring/smaller levels, to the harmless zerg enemies, to the crappy, though cinematic, storytelling. What can you say about a game that switches out of the genre that made it popular? Its called selling out kids.
  • talleyXIV - February 6, 2013 4:32 p.m.

    I've always hated this series.
  • Fox_Mulder - February 6, 2013 9:55 p.m.

    Okay. I've always hated YOU. Not really, but as the saying goes: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. My point is, I don't go on reviews of games I don't particularly like just to let the community know I've always hated the series that many people love.
  • lizardman725 - February 6, 2013 4:31 p.m.

    i will respectfully disagree with this review. Though the game is not perfect i would not score it under a 4. I have played dead space since the 1st one. This includes the wii version and the puzzle game. Graphically the game looks really good. There are very few flaws in that. The weapon crafting is the deepest form of customization i have seen in a long time. I believe the comment of dull environments is completely wrong. though u do go through the same spot once or twice the design is masterfully well done. in each room the lighting is positioned perfectly to get the right feel. and on the planet it captures the feeling of being on an abandoned station on an ice planet. The story is a classic dead space story. In all of the predecessors the story never really took center stage and yet they still received a 4. there were plenty of times in #2 were u were charged by tones of necros but it was never criticzed on it. It is not a good game but a great game that leaves a player with hrs of entertainment. If u read this review imparticular and believe you should pass it up, u should rethink your logic. I believe this review and many other low reviews (by this i mean 7 and lower) fell victim to the preset idea that the game was going to be bad because of the changes. This idea was set when they first heard about and stuck with them. If you start out believing the game will be bad it will be bad. I am just saying that gamesradars negatives of bland environments, and hordes of necros are not negatives that really hold much ground. My rating for this game would be a 4.25 or an 88 out of 10.
  • lizardman725 - February 6, 2013 4:32 p.m.

    srry for the length thought i put spaces in between.
  • jgalaxy815 - February 6, 2013 8:13 a.m.

    These reviews are ruining people...I've played the game, i'm only 2 and a half chapters through and to me it's still Dead Space...the presentation on this game is like a movie. If you've played 1 and 2 it's simple...put it on HARD and get a headset, and you will see that it is still HORROR with some Action to go along with it. The things that upsets me is that if it was exactly like Dead Space 1 people would of been like "Ohhh it's the same game and it's not evolving" I commend Visceral for even trying to change it up a little bit...I'm loving this right now, i guess i'll have to wait how much it "sucks" once i get to the Snow Planet
  • angelusdlion - February 6, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    Play the entire game before you bitch, piss, and moan about a review, please... Especially if you haven't gotten to the part where the review says it goes downhill...
  • pl4y4h - February 5, 2013 8:56 p.m.

    I remember watching the game grumps play the demo. Jon's probably gonna be disappointed
  • Fox_Mulder - February 5, 2013 6:27 p.m.

    Dead Space, with every game, just keeps ramping up the scale of everything. People just need to accept that they will never make another game like the original, take it for what it was as the first chapter in a constantly growing outbreak. The original game had cinematic action, like the tentacle-grab or enemy grab QTEs or the freaking Hive Mind picking you up. The second game upped the cinematic action, in the first chapter you walk in a room and two soldiers shoot at you. In Dead Space 3, you actually fight soldiers. I knew what I was getting into buying DS3, and I am not at all surprised or disappointed. Seems like a great game thus far, and I'm really into the crafting system and all of the crazy weapon combinations.
  • wiitard07 - February 5, 2013 3:47 p.m.

    Sick as hell of the gaming community shitting on every game that gets any score below a nine. As invested into the story of the first two as I am, the few hours I am into this entry are VERY fulfilling, and if I have to play through a sub-par final quarter of this game to experience what sounds like a thrilling first 75 percent, then I'm just going to live with it.
  • Bloodstorm - February 5, 2013 4:48 p.m.

    7/10 isn't bad, just not what you expect from a AAA series that has had a better track record.
  • Person5 - February 5, 2013 1:03 p.m.

    I saw this coming as well unfortunately. If they really wanted to keep the game fresh they should have had a new protagonist every game. It went from "Engineer on a routine job turned horribly horribly wrong" to "Isaac's personal war against the Necromorphs" The first game was just about getting off the station, after that it seems like his goals are more along the lines of saving the day.
  • winner2 - February 5, 2013 12:45 p.m.

    Did anyone NOT see his coming? I've been hating this series ever since I saw that dev interview y'all posted. You know, the guy that literally went into how badass he thought the word "pulp" was. If ever there was proof that constant series milking is bad, it's this.
  • joabbuac - February 5, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    Dead Space always felt more like an atmospheric action game than a horror game to me, seems like its lost the "atmospheric" part, you cant be atmospheric when there is a monster humping your leg every 5 mins. Im done with this series, did not like 2 as much as 1...and this one seems worse. Maybe i will rent it at some point or buy it a few years down the line when its going cheap.

Showing 1-20 of 38 comments

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