Dead Space 2 is one of my favorite games of this generations. Provided, it wasn’t scary, but, and I still have to explain this to people, that wasn’t the point. What Dead Space lacked in terror it made up for with the ever crucial ingredient, atmosphere. It was packed with tension and suspense and the fact that monsters could shower down from the ceiling and begin ripping you to giblets at any time was what kept you on your toes. The combat was intense and the setpieces were awesome, and I still believe that it tells a great story at the same time. But now a sequel has been wrenched violently from the EA’s backside and Isaac Clarke has another excuse for the misuse of common logic and mining equipment. Now in the months upcoming to Dead Space 3, I was truly worried about the condition of the game. There were a few warning signs that came up during announcement that disappointed me. The first of these was the introduction of human enemies. I was afraid that when the Unitologists wrenched what remaining heads they had following that last Necromorph outbreak and started coming after Isaac, then we could condemn another franchise to the shallow, overcrowded grave of cover-based shooting. Fortunately, it’s not a cover system! You have no idea how happy I was to find that out. It’s just a crouch feature, and the cover just so happens to be identical in height to that of Isaac crouching figure! And that’s fine by me. Any system that doesn’t velcro my back to the wall and force me to waste precious microseconds detaching myself from it is a step in the right direction in my opinion. It serves the combat and is still completely optional. As a matter of fact, the Unitologist soldiers don’t even come across as much of a threat. Isaac usually stumbles upon them already getting massacred by the local Necromorphs, which works great as an atmosphere builder, but it gets rather repetitive and starts to lose tension later on. The second red light appeared, as it did for many, at the announcement of co-op. This decision becomes far less justifiable then the human enemies as the game progresses. Our new tagalong, Carver, is introduced during the first chapter of the game, seemingly out of nowhere, and we’re expected to deal with him throughout the entire rest of the game. And that would be fine if he were a good character, but he just isn’t. His only purposes appears to just act as a polar opposite to Isaac, who, between Dead Space 2 and 3, has somehow transitioned from a determined, plan-oriented man clinging desperately to his survival to a whiny, irrational lost puppy with attachment issues who spends the entire game performing bad idea after bad idea with no motivation other than “We have to find Ellie.” Carver exists only to contradict everything Isaac says, yet still not putting in enough effort to talk him out of dislodging the giant malfunctioning mining drill and other similarly poor decisions. While I do still believe it was a good decision not to make Carver an AI partner if we want to play single-player, the game seems to chastise you for not wanting to have a epileptic monkey-on-a-chain running around stealing all the ammo and health packs. There’s an entirely separate set of levels dealing with Carver’s backstory that are completely locked off unless you play through the campaign in co-op. So if you want to play the good Dead Space 3, that being the single-player one, then you’ll never know the full extent of Carver’s character. Not that it’s any different from what is revealed in game, but **BRAAAHHHH**, I paid for this game so I deserve to know who these people are! The last and most egregious design choice, which infuriated me to the nth degree, was a little thing called universal ammunition. This may seem petty, but its ruinous to the game’s atmosphere. Picture this situation, if you will. At the start of the game, Isaac has his infamous plasma cutter as well as some generic machine gun he got from somewhere. The game gives you this new weapon and encourages you to use it against the human enemies, not that the plasma cutter is ineffective against the human enemies, the machine gun just fires slightly more accurately from cover. The machine gun has a 50-round magazine and fires fairly quickly meaning it eats through ammo as such. Thus, whenever you find ammo amidst the cluster of health packs and raw materials for the weapon crafting system, it assumes you’ve been using the machine gun as directed and plops ammo down in groups of 20 - 30 rounds. And 1 machine gun round = 1 shot for any of the other weapons, so at any given time you can have in excess of one hundred shots for your plasma cutter. And speaking of weapon crafting system, Dead Space 3 has removed the weapon upgrades from the previous installment and replaced it with a crafting system that requires you to pick up random pieces of material dropped by enemies and fashion it into a new weapon by combining multiple parts. In theory this works because it allows for a more personalized experience and the removal of the Line Gun from Dead Space 2 almost made me not get Dead Space 3 in the first place. But in practice, it completely removes all balance from the game. I had crafted a gun that fired 6-foot wide flaming horizontal bars half the distance of a football field, and factor in the universal ammunition, and you’re left with a Super-Personalized Killamatron 9000 with virtually infinite ammunition. So it’s easy. It’s SOOOOOOO easy and that’s my largest problem with this game. So many bad design choices come together to eliminate all of the atmosphere that made Dead Space 1 and 2 so great. In Dead Space 2, ammo was precious and scarce, so you had to make every shot count. It added that much more tension to the combat. The complete removal of the store and in-game credits was another thing I was dumbfounded by. Stores in Dead Space 2 were oases in the flaming shitstorm that was Titan Station. You could use your saved credits to purchase more ammo and health packs and new weapons and suits to help you survive. In Dead Space 3, suits and new weapons are just given out at specific story intervals. There’s no build up, no real work required to further your skills, and its not as rewarding as it would be if you had to save up credits and purchase it. Its not just the material things that break apart the atmosphere. Its also the aesthetic and environment design. Dead Space 2 took place in dark, claustrophobic corridors, and these environments emphasized the tense atmosphere. Now, in Dead Space 3, you’re outside, it’s sunny, and it’s snowing. Snow isn’t threatening, it’s calming. And even worse, you’re only in space for, like, 30 minutes. So that’s Dead Space 3, and at the risk of sounding like every other reviewer on the planet, it truly has been homogenized beyond recognition. And once again, shifting focus to a larger target audience has made it less appealing for everyone. The combat’s still fun but the setpieces aren’t as entertaining, the story is contrived, the characters are unfocused, and the atmosphere that made Dead Space 2 one of my favorite games is completely nonexistent. Even playing in co-op fails to distract from the repetitive gameplay and obnoxiously easy difficulty. Dead Space 3’s mediocre quality doesn’t detract from the quality of its predecessors, and I would still recommend them to anyone who wants a good game combined with an engaging story, but if you’re thinking of going all the way through this trilogy, trust me when I say you’re not missing anything. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, DownPlay Reviews Next Week on DownPlay Reviews: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance