Dead Space 3 has been somewhat of a controversial game as of late, some believe it to be one of the best games of this generation while others are highly disappointed about the game. I, however, agree entirely with the former. Visceral Games has taken the Dead Space series to the next level and is unafraid if this means stepping on the toes of some people. Everything, and by everything I do mean everything, has been taken to a new height of complexity and uniqueness. The story, gameplay, environment, characters, etc have all been made that much better than in the previous installments. Dead Space 3 is simply a step in the right direction for the franchise. 

To start, the story in Dead Space 3 has a distinct vibe different than that of the previous installments. In Dead Space and Dead Space 2, it felt as if the main goal was to merely survive and escape the necromorph onslaught. In Dead Space 3, however, Isaac, and his new found comrade Carver, have a different goal, to take the fight to the necromorphs and stop the intended destruction of mankind. It's no longer simply about a single person, that person being Isaac, it's about saving everyone. I felt as if this new found sense of duty to save mankind gave me a feeling of empowerment, especially in the latter stages of the game, and made it far more meaningful to fight through the necromorph scourge. 

As with the previous installments, I found the concept of the marker and the necromorphs to be intriguing to say the least. The way that the markers are these inanimate objects in appearance, yet lifelike in mind, has always been this strange, fascinating thing that was difficult to understand. Dead Space 3 elaborated much more on the function and purpose of these markers. Since I've always been very curious about the markers, it was refreshing to have direct information about them instead of simply being forced to speculate about what the markers were actually for.

Another new and welcome addition to the Dead Space storyline for me was the actual appearance of the Unitoligists. In Dead Space 1 and 2, the Unitoligists were not physically present to the degree of that in Dead Space 3. Much of the information we received about the Unitoligists came from logs, secondary information, or their numerous propaganda posters that were posted on nearly every wall. In person, there would simply be a few of them, crazed and insane of course, who would cause major problems for our hero Mr. Clarke. They were never really a full frontal antagonistic force as they are now. Now, as we get to really see what the Unitoligists are truly about, it becomes clear that they are these fanatical, religious, terrorist type group that truly believes that by destroying mankind with the marker and necromorphs, they are causing mankind to “converge” to a higher stage of evolution. In other words they are the pure essence of crazy.

With the addition of the Unitoligists, many people were in great fear of the added "action" that would be implemented into the game. I mean soldiers shooting at Isaac with guns! What is this, Resident Evil? In all reality, however, any combat situations with the Unitoligist forces were usually very brief and had necromorph involvement too. There were very few occasions when I actually had to kill any soldiers simply because the surrounding necromorph population would often do the work for me. Any ways, the few occasions where I actually had to take care of the Unitoligists on my own were at the beginning and the end of the game so they were paced very well and didn't impede on the more important interactions with the necromorphs. The interactions with the Unitoligist forces is simply a little break from the necromorphs and actually, at least in my mind, made combat situations with necromorphs that much more enjoyable. 

Now, the story and addition of direct Unitoligist involvement in Dead Space 3 is very intriguing, but what I was most interested in when I first found out about Dead Space 3 was what the environment was going to be like. In all honesty, Dead Space 3's environment by far surpasses that of both the previous installments. To make things simple, Dead Space 3's environment can be broken into two halves, the graveyard of ships orbiting Tau Volantis and Tau Volantis itself.

For a good portion of the game, Isaac and possibly Carver if you so choose, are forced to roam around a graveyard of Sovereign Colonies Armed Forces ships to search for parts and a ship home. As you float in space and view everything from such a magnificent view point, it's difficult to not become awe struck from the beauty of the frozen planet below you, but also to become filled with anxiety from seeing the dying, decaying ships floating around it. These ships are reminiscent of Isaac's time in the USG Ishimura, creepiness and all. Once you enter one of the larger ships, you instantly know something horrible occurred there. Blood and other body parts are splattered everywhere, 200 year old body bags line the walls, and at first it seems that you're all alone, at least until you here a clang in the distance. As soon as I heard that initial sound in the distance, the first thing that came to mind was "sh**, I was hoping this was going to be easy....." This uneasy, isolated yet being watched feeling is what made me love the original Dead Space series so much. Dead Space 3's ship graveyard recaptures these fond memories of the original Dead Space with horrifying effectiveness. 

However, while I was in these ships, in the back of my mind the same thought kept occurring over and over again, "When am I going to get to the planet?" Well to answer my own question, you get to the planet in spectacular fashion. To avoid spoiling anything, I'll just leave it at that. Once I reached the planet, it became completely apparent that Isaac's little adventure here was not going to be easy. The planet basically consists of the freezing outdoors and sparsely populated, falling apart buildings. Even when outdoors, Visceral Games perfectly makes the player still have a feeling of uneasiness. The snow and horrible weather often prevents the player from seeing more than a few feet ahead. Then as the howls of some distant creature are heard, paranoia and claustrophobia set in. This sense of "where are they coming from?" creates a new type of fear not present in the previous games. When you finally get to shelter, the same close quarters Dead Space creepiness we all know and love returns. 

The most amazing thing about Tau Volantis is not the planet's surface, but rather what Tau Volantis keeps hidden. As you progress through Tau Volantis, you will eventually climb a rather large mountain in order to get to "the machine." Then as you move through the mountain, you will reach an alien "city" that houses the machine. The architecture of this city creates some of the most amazing images that I have ever seen in a video game. Massive statues of an alien race long forgotten are scattered everywhere, alien technology in all its beauty is still operating, and oh yea, there's the machine, a spectacle for the eye to behold. Never has one environment truly blown me away with such visuals as this alien city has. 

To further add to the continuous trend of "bringing things to a new level," the characters in Dead Space 3 have also been littered with far more details than ever before. Isaac in specific has evolved greatly from his original Dead Space days. Isaac Clarke is undoubtedly my favorite video game character of all time. What I think makes him so special is the fact that he is just an ordinary man put in an anything but ordinary situation. He has no powers, no abilities, just a knack for dismemberment and facing terror dead in the face. In Dead Space 3, it is clear that his previous encounters have left him scarred and somewhat broken. After Dead Space 2, Isaac apparently dated Ellie, but because of his fractured state of mind, the relationship didn't work out well. Even though I was happy that Isaac had finally gotten over Nicole (I was also very happy Nicole wasn't in Dead Space 3 because she scared me......a lot) , I was also saddened that he still had so many problems. Even though he has rid himself partially of the extreme dementia that plagued him before, as the game progresses, you can still see how the events of the past weigh on him. As more and more of the people around him fall victim to the necromorphs, Isaac feels a sense of responsibility for their deaths, as if it is his fault that the necromorphs are still around. This sense of raw emotion Isaac has gives him a relatability that I have yet to find in any other video game character to date. 

However, what most people were really curious about in Dead Space 3 were the new additions to gameplay. In all honesty, I found that every single addition to the gameplay simply made the experience that much better. Some of the smaller additions such as the ability to roll or duck just felt natural to me. Now, when a bulky elite necromorph is charging me, but I'm too busy reloading to shoot it, I can attempt to roll out of the way instead of simply standing there and taking its rig draining blow. There is, however, a balance to the new roll function as with all the new additions. Much of the time the necromorphs will still be fast enough to hit you even if you roll. That is why stasis must be implemented in conjunction with the roll function to be used effectively.

Other smaller additions to the game such as the introduction of a single ammo type and the removal of the credit system were also much needed additions to the series. Before, when ammo types were specific to a certain gun, I felt restricted to what I could do with my weapon arsenal. I was always reluctant to experiment with guns because then ammo would start spawning for that weapon type too instead of my go to weapons such as the force gun. With the new single ammo type, I can now experiment with whatever gun I so wish and not worry about not having the right type of ammo for it. The removal of the credit system was also a great addition to the game. No longer does Isaac have to scrounge around for spare credits to buy his equipment, but rather now he has to scavenge for parts and actually construct whatever he needs. This feels just a lot more natural since Isaac was previously an engineer and could construct just about anything (plus it just makes sense). I never really understood why the local store had so much ammo anyways........

This leads me to the greatest addition to the Dead Space series, the revolutionized bench. Oh how I love the new bench! Instead of the bench merely being a place to put circuits on your weapons, it has now become a place in which you can allow your destructive imagination to run rampant. No longer do you have to settle with preconstructed weapons, but rather now you can create whatever you can think of. Ever wonder what an electrified saw blade will do? Make it and find out! (from personal experience, it is pure carnage) What about a shotgun with acid encased shells or high voltage electricity focused into a narrow blast? Just go make those too! The only limitation to this new crafting system is your imagination.

Also, the new double weapon system allows the player to create new and interesting combinations of weaponry. This system allows your to create weapons in which it's basically two weapons put together. Personally, my favorite weapon that I've crafted so far is the Tesla core with a precision barrel and a lower barrel force gun all acidfied plus a damage boost. I say my favorite gun "so far" because I am basically addicted to the new crafting system and I'm always creating new weapons. I literally can spend hours just at the bench tinkering with new combinations. 

As always, the things that made Dead Space 3 great are all still present. The audio is still pitch perfect and chilling, the necromorphs are still repulsive, aiming is still simple, Isaac's breathing in a silent room is still unsettling, etc. 

Now, in conclusion, perhaps the most controversial of additions to Dead Space is undoubtedly co-op mode. Having gone through a playthrough on both co-op and single player, I must say both were fun in their own way. Of course I felt more frightened when I played by myself, but co-op mode allowed for a unique experience all on its own, plus my friends and I still get uneasy and startled when playing with each other. I cannot begin to tell you how many times one of us has left the other behind to get mauled by necromorphs simply out of fear. In co-op mode there will be "optional missions" that are only playable in co-op mode. In these missions the person playing as Carver will see things that aren't really there, similar to Isaac's hallucinations in the previous games, while the person playing as Isaac will not see a thing. Eventually Carver will face moments in which he has to battle the marker in his mind and Isaac will be forced to protect Carver from necromorphs in the real world. This sense of isolation in two different worlds but yet standing right next to each other is a unique experience that only co-op can provide. The way I see it, co-op is simply another reason to play the game, if you think it will ruin the experience, then just don't play it. 

Well there you have it, my thoughts on Dead Space 3. If you had the patience to get through perhaps the longest review I have ever written, then kudos to you. Whether you are a hardcore fan of Dead Space as I am or are just starting in the series, Dead Space 3 is a must have for any gamer (above the age of 10, don't want to be scarring anyone for life now do we?). The added level of complexity and detailing has shown that Visercal Games is driving the Dead Space franchise in the right direction. Simply put, Dead Space 3 is indeed one of the best games of this generation.