The lights are on
Dead Space 3 has been one of, if not my most, my most anticipated titles of 2013. The finale of Isaac Clarke's journey to stop the spread of the Markers has had me constantly waiting since E3 of last year. Although in the end the game turned out to still be a classic Dead Space game like I had always thought, it also ended up being set back several frustrating sequences that cannot justify it being the best of the trilogy.
Isaac's trek on Tau Volantis is, as a whole, very good. I found the story of the third game to trump the original two in terms of scope, as well as twists and overall storytelling. While it was a little confusing at the beginning, as there's little connection to Dead Space 2, I still did like this one the best, with story being a driver over gameplay, as opposed to the previous entries in the series, where I found them mostly on par.
However, sometimes the story was the only thing that kept me going; the latter half of the game suddenly severely ups the difficulty, adding in many more Necromorphs than a player should be able to handle. This resulted in a severe lack of balancing within the game compared to the previous games. While Dead Space 1 and 2 both had me doing usually okay in terms of ammunition and health, with a little bit harder management toward the end of each game, Dead Space 3 had me severely overpowered at the beginning. At one point, I had over 1000 ammo, which was absurd to me; so much ammo was dropped by enemies that I never needed to worry about conserving it.
After getting into the final chapters though, like I said above, the amount of Necromorphs goes up quite a bit, and a couple times I found myself with one bit of health left, and no ammo. The thing was that this wasn't because I was wasting tons of ammo, but because there were so many enemies that I couldn't keep up, especially since the enemies are much faster this time around. Even though this is common in some survival horror games, the fact that it's simply because they load a dozen enemies seemingly every few seconds made the game more frustrating than requiring a strategy.
Also, some other parts of the game were extremely frustrating as well, and it's because of something easily dealt with; how stasis affects insta-death attacks/obstacles. One of the enemies shown in multiple trailers, the Snow Beast, has an attack where he charges you, knocking you onto the ground. While this has existed before with other enemies, the battles against the Snow Beast were almost always making me consider turning off the console and quitting my play session. What would happen was that I would stasis him when he came near(at which point I was against a wall). However, when I would away from the front of him, I would come close to his stasised form, which would knock me onto the ground, as if he had rammed me. Then, when Isaac would stand up, I would immediately be knocked down again by the still-stasised Snow Beast. How I would put this in simple terms would be this; a car is about to hit you, so you use a power to slow the car so it's moving at about an inch per second. Yet, when you move close to it, you're still blasted back like it hit you on full speed. In other words, I was very frustrated.
This is the Snow Beat-make sure you have enough stasis packs, and patience when fighting him.
Shown in some demo's and trailers have also been the segments of the game where you would grapple up or down a cliff side to reach your destination. In one of the later instances of this type of gameplay, debris would fall toward Isaac and you would be required to move to a place where it wouldn't hit you, and you could stasis it if you needed to. What really irked me about these segments was that sometimes I would be closed to a stasised piece of ice, and was about to move to a different spot on the cliff away from the object, but because I was so close to it, I was automatically killed. Logically, it doesn't make sense, and I found this to be a severe technical oversight by Visceral.
Despite my shortcomings, I really did enjoy the rest of the gameplay. It maintained the action-horror vibe that the first two games had, while not diving too deep into action, except for a couple of sequences that felt over the top. The weapon customization system ended up being a nice addition, but I found myself using weapons from the previous games instead of my own ones. Fights against human enemies was a unique twist that I felt did change up the game a bit, and made the game feel like there was an actual real conflict between Isaac and the Unitologists, as opposed to Dead Space 2, where there was only a scripted sequence.
As of this review, I have not been able to finish the game in a cooperative playthrough, and thus cannot attest to how good it ended up. I played about 7 chapters with a buddy though, and found this to be fun, and still like Dead Space. I would like to note that I didn't play the rest of the game in cooperative once again, which may be much easier, instead of the frustrating experience I had in the last couple of chapters.
Overall, while Dead Space 3 definitely supports the best presentation and story of the trilogy, and still maintains the feel and look of Dead Space, I see it at the bottom of the ladder in terms of actual gameplay and execution, as I cannot recall really any sequences in the original two(except maybe that dumb turret part of the first game) that were as frustrating as the several that were in this game.
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