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Dead Space Extraction review

Great

There’s no two ways about it: Wii usually gets the shaft when it comes to top shelf third party support. What system generally has the weakest version of a multiplatform title? Wii. What system gets a weird spin-off like Soulcalibur Legends, Castlevania Judgment or Dragon Quest Swords instead of a genuine sequel? That’d be Wii as well. So it’s fair to say when we heard it was getting a Dead Space prequel that was an on-rails shooter akin to House of the Dead, we were suitably skeptical. Imagine our relief then, when Extraction turned out to be one of the most memorable shooters we’ve ever played, mostly thanks to its gritty cinematic presentation.


Above: More like a 7-hour interactive horror movie 

This is much more than a haunted shooting gallery, as the presentation, voice acting and exceptional visuals honestly make you feel like a part of the action. You’re not just moving along with a target reticule blasting grotesque monsters; you are the person, ducking and weaving, cussing in disbelief, shuddering with a shaky-cam guerilla style that immerses you in the world like no other game in this genre.


Nothing was sacrificed

Like we said moments ago, Wii usually gets leftovers passed off as new content. Not so with Extraction. Take for example the visuals, which are probably among the best on the platform. Top five, easy. Because there’s no player character to render or external world to keep track of, a great deal of horsepower is spent on making the lighting pop and the graphics stand out. Here’s a great shot from the first level compared to the HD 360/PS3 game:


Above: Not quite an even shake, but the effort is apparent 

This carries over into audio as well, using all the same brilliant sound effects and music that made the original so specifically oppressive. Even the gore, which you’d suspect might be toned down or lessened due to hardware limitations, is actually quite brutal and upsetting. Our favorite moments should make that point quite clear:


Above: Self-mutilation, suicide, decapitations, it’s all here


It’s far more personable

You’d think the lack of camera control and interactivity would make this a less interesting game to play than the gruesomely atmospheric original. Strangely enough, we found Extraction more interesting because there’s so much more dialog between you and the other traumatized survivors. Of particular note are the faces and reactions of people in your group as you try to first escape the rioting colony, and then work your way to the Ishimura, the ghoul-infested spaceship setting of the first game.


Above: Eye contact and emotion make the crisis much more personal 

The story begins right as an excavation team unearths a giant red marker on a distant planet – fans of the first game know it well. Once moved, it emits a piercing shriek and everyone loses their shit, slowly going mad and tearing into each other. By the end of the first stage, you are killed by a rescue squad, and then the story resumes with a detective (Nathan) trying to keep it together long enough to get out alive. All of this takes place before Isaac (hero of Dead Space) arrives at the Ishimura and finds the entire ship overrun with mutated walking corpses.


Above: The end of the first game is the beginning of the second 

It all ties together nicely and helps make this feel like a deserved follow-up and not a cheap Wii cash in. It would have been nice if the actual mystery of the marker, the creepy Unitologist religion and the fleshy necromorphs were explained a little clearer, but ugh, we suppose they want to keep it secret a little while longer.

So, what’s wrong then?

After all that gushing you have to be wondering what’s holding this back from a 9 or 10. Well, flourishes aside, this is still a rails shooter, and as such depends on interesting enemies and two-player support for repeated use. The actual shooting is shaky at first (as the enemies are just deranged people), then becomes gory and intense once the multi-limbed necromorphs arrive.


Above: F*CKING KILL IT 

A few more missions in and you’ll find the gunplay hasn’t evolved at all. Oh you have several weapon choices, each with alternate firing capabilities, but the same dismemberment strategy from the 360/PS3 title works on every single monster you face. After shooting 100 or so, it becomes tedious, even with all the usual Dead Space tricks like telekinesis and the baddie-freezing stasis blast. Honestly, toward the end, we viewed the shooting as a hassle and just wanted to watch the rest of the story.


Above: There are a few branching paths, but they’re slight 

As for two-player, it’s certainly functional, but Extraction has the interesting distinction of being the only light gun-style game we don’t want to play with friends. It’s too personal, too “you and your team against the odds” to have someone else sitting beside you. Stranger still is the fact you’re both behind the eyes of one character with two targets on the screen, so in the story context it’s like you’re dual wielding two massive guns, not playing as two people.

There are also several instances where you and the crew and are slowly creeping through ducts and vents. It makes sense to take these weirdly obscure paths when the ship is packed with brain-eating monsters, but from a gameplay perspective it gets old fast. The first couple of times are fine, but after the fourth, fifth, even sixth time we really, really wanted out of the ducts, and not in a cool “channeling the in-game emotions” kind of way. It’s restrictive and drawn out, which leads us to the next point…


It’s not big on replayability

A rail shooter at its core, Extraction should be near-infinitely replayable. But as we mentioned above, two-player is awkward and ruins the mood, and the mission length (about 20 minutes a pop or more) doesn’t make for fast, arcade-style fun. It’s too intense, too long and too movie-like to play through more than once, as then you’ll know the twists and turns, and most of the enjoyment comes from the propensity of “oh shit!” moments.


Above: Oh shit!

If you’re an obsessive collector, there are plenty of text and audio logs to snag out of the environment with your telekinesis beam, each one explaining a bit more of what went down before the marker was dug up. However, due to the constant flinging and shaking camera, some of these pickups (which include ammo and weapon upgrades) are damn near impossible to nab the first time through. True, you could go back through and get them all, but if you miss it again, say nine minutes into the level, do you really want to restart and try again?

But what a ride!

In case our main point was obscured by those complaints, we’re saying this: Extraction is a hell of a trip exactly once. It’s kind of pricey to pay $50 for a game that’s best played alone and only one time, but consider it a true interactive movie (at around 6-7 hours), and that’s a deal. Especially if you feel inclined to play again and experience all over again these unlucky people slowly losing their minds and suffering absolute misery throughout the game. It’s an awesomely compelling downer.


Above: Kind of like Cloverfield 

Post-game, you can watch the motion comic or try out the challenge rooms (more shooting, obviously), which are nice extras but pale next to the nut-busting pandemonium that permeates the single-player adventure.


Is it better than…

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles? Hell yes. Both flesh out their respective franchise’s backstory, but Extraction comes off as a genuine addition, not a stiffly recycled zombie parade. Gunplay, pacing and plot are all better.




House of the Dead: Overkill? Yes and no. Both have outstanding presentations and feel cooler and slicker than most other rail shooters, though Overkill lacks the “OMG” appeal. However, it is a better two-player experience and lends to repeated playthroughs. Choose this for more straightforward shooting.


Ghost Squad? Well yeah. These couldn’t be further apart in terms of production values, though in Squad’s defense it’s an arcade port meant to offer nothing more than guiltless blasting. Fun, but not deep at all.





Just for you, Metacritic!

The action may always be on a pre-set path, but like any good rollercoaster, Dead Space Extraction gets your heart racing and adrenaline pounding even though you have no control. A far more interesting and emotional take on the light gun scene.

More Info

Release date: Sep 29 2009 - Wii (US)
Available Platforms: Wii, PS3
Genre: Action
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Visceral Games
Franchise: Dead Space
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
PEGI Rating:
18+

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19 comments

  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - September 25, 2009 5:29 p.m.

    Looks cool.Does anyone thinks this justifies buying a Wii?
  • Xtapolapopotamus - September 25, 2009 6:09 p.m.

    I'm quite impressed. Of course the visuals don't match up with the PS3 or 360, but watching that video on the first page made it seem like that didn't matter. It was just as visceral and flinch-inducing, and the sequence where he had to cut off his arm... Damn. Great review Mr. Elston.
  • destroyerofall - September 25, 2009 6:28 p.m.

    Does it justify a Wii purchase? Ehhh... I've had buyer's remorse since I finished Twilight Princess. I liked Dead Space on PS3, but my waggling days r DONE. Pass.
  • richtaur - September 25, 2009 6:55 p.m.

    "Ya got a basement, kid?" Nice words, Brett! I find 8 to be acceptable.
  • ndstrialzmbi - September 25, 2009 7:09 p.m.

    Tha only games tht wuld justify gettin a wii r mario galaxy, mad world n no more heroes
  • Usgo - September 25, 2009 8:33 p.m.

    shit now i have to but it.
  • Riodoku - September 25, 2009 9:26 p.m.

    Looks good...it's dissapointing that it's only good one time through though. I would buy it, but I still need to buy the original for PC...maybe I will this month.
  • kyichi - September 25, 2009 9:59 p.m.

    this game looks great.now i'm pissed that my wii got fucked up by some 7 year old who broke in my room.
  • Bronzus - September 25, 2009 10:47 p.m.

    If you were buying it second-hand; sure!
  • Conman93 - September 25, 2009 11:24 p.m.

    OMG!! U cut off ur own arm!! Cool! This looks really good Im torn between this and resi darkside chronicles. Guess ill wait for the review of that before buying this
  • TheWebSwinger - September 26, 2009 3:09 a.m.

    Could not be less interested in this game. I'm not trying to be a hater, I just found Dead Space to be aping Bioshock and RE4 a little too hard for my taste. And at this point in my gaming career, I'm pretty weary of getting invested in intricate, corporate approved, franchise-spawning plots.
  • bamb0o-stick - September 26, 2009 5:23 a.m.

    Am i the only who found that violence clip hilarious with the scenes out of context like that? This review has piqued my interest. Good time to dust off the old Wii.
  • legory - September 26, 2009 6:34 a.m.

    Am I the only one surprised that this got a higher score than a Halo game? reCAPTCHA: dithered 33-year-old. Is that a sign?
  • Frexerik - September 26, 2009 2:01 p.m.

    @legory this is on the wii, halo is on the 360. you cant compare them with each other..
  • Romination - September 27, 2009 4:23 p.m.

    i'm adding a plus 1 to this score for myself because i love me some lightgun shooters. i can play house ofthe dead for. ever. and this is even more violent and visceral, so yes
  • oryandymackie - September 28, 2009 3:27 p.m.

    I always wanted one of these for the 360. As GamesRadar puts it, like an "interactive movie". I like the shaky camera too.
  • ultimatum7 - September 29, 2009 11:24 p.m.

    worth a couple rents, but because of the "no replay value," i think id regret ACTULY buying it.
  • Bobbety - September 30, 2009 11:13 p.m.

    Why does the TDar UK article link here instead?
  • Metroidhunter32 - October 15, 2009 10:47 p.m.

    I'm really torn on this one. On one hand it looks awsome. On the other I hate rail shooters, but havn't played any quality ones. Probally gonna pick it up but not anytime soon.

Showing 1-19 of 19 comments

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