Dead Space 3 Review: Good, But More Shooty Than Scary
The cover-based shooter portions are Dead Space 3′s other major failing. Especially at the end of the game, a few just get stupid, with enemies firing rockets at you while you’re actively fighting monsters. One sequence I played repeatedly had me fighting Necros on the ground, only to field rocket blasts from enemies behind guard rails on a rooftop. If I was lucky, I’d only take splash damage from their attacks, no matter where I stood; unlucky, and a rocket would hit me in the chest and force a restart.
These bits just feel really badly out of place. Dead Space is not Gears of War, and the cover system, light and easy as it’s meant to be, just doesn’t meet standards in an engagement like that. Neither do the human enemies — in fact, Dead Space 3 has a painful lack of tricky new monsters and adversaries, and the best enemies from the previous games are criminally underrepresented — who tend to just pour at you and force you to soak up damage. In a word, the cover-based shooter portions are weak. The game didn’t need them, so it’s nice that Visceral kept them to a minimum, but it’s unfortunate that they become a rather large part of the endgame.
And finally, there’s the story, which at times is the worst of the series. The background of the scenario, concerning a war 200 years in the past and research conducted by the people who lived then, is a great setup for the game, but the main cast is weak when their interactions get hammy. A love triangle scenario that felt unnecessary to the plot had me yelling at the screen: “Of course he’s acting weird, he’s obviously influenced by the Markers, just like everyone in this series.” The British Unitologist leader, Danik, also leaves something to be desired, tending toward long-winded exposition that makes you wonder why he doesn’t just execute his protagonist prisoners at any of the, you know, half-dozen chances he gets. He’s a Bond villain in a game that has no need of such.
All that said, there’s a ton of content in Dead Space 3 to sate fans of the series, much of it very good. The unlockable modes at the end of the game, like the permadeath-enabled Hardcore mode, Pure Survival mode that requires crafting of consumables, and Classic mode that removes crafting, provide lots of good additional ways to experience what we love about Dead Space. And there is a lot of what we love here.
The trouble is that, stapled onto what is a good game at the core, are a number of mishandled features that don’t add anything and occasionally detract from the experience. Co-op is a take-it-or-leave-it gesture that is only sometimes really interesting (in some missions, Carver hallucinates things the player controlling Isaac can’t see at all), but crafting can get fun, and many of the missions and a lot of the lore are stellar reasons to play the game. It is a fun time, despite a few failings.
As a lover of the Dead Space series, I recommend playing Dead Space 3. My first single-player run of “go everywhere, do everything” play clocked in at 17 and a half hours — the game is bursting with content, and I found most of it to my liking. The weaker parts are there, and they can be frustrating — but if you like Dead Space, you’ll at least find some things to like in Dead Space 3, and you’ll get plenty for your money’s worth. You may even find that jumping into co-op with a pal is worth it, even if it’s more shooty than scary.
- A huge amount of content and game to explore; tons of value and replay value
- Some great set pieces that the series is known for, like the crash on Tau Volantis and subsequent march across the tundra
- Crafting is huge, robust, and generally fun
- The Dead Space core elements are here, much as we remember them
- More freedom than any Dead Space game has yet offered
- Some really great optional side stories that flesh out the world
- Co-op can be fun, especially with the right person; optional co-op missions have some great ideas in them
- You can totally avoid micro-transactions and still get just about anything you could ever want from the game
- Horror elements are greatly reduced; this is an action game, not a horror game
- Doesn’t match the atmosphere or tension of the rest of the series
- Latter half of the game gets a bit repetitive, with repeated areas in side missions and a lot of the same formula of enemy attacks
- Co-op feels shoehorned into the story
- Story is the weakest of the series and gets a bit hammy
Final Score: 75/100