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.
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:
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.