Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Game Review: Dead Space 3

 I played the first 2 installments of this series & reviewed the original Dead Space. These games are 3rd person shooters with a sci-fi horror survival theme.

The first Dead Space blew me away with the sense of fear and dread it instilled, as you tried to survive onslaughts of Necromorphs in creepy abandoned space stations & ships. The second one wasn't as good, but Dead Space 3 brought back alot of the impact I felt in the original.

Although there were excellent sequences in space & zero gravity, much of the story takes place on the ice planet Tau Volantis. This is the planet of origin for the alien "markers" that featured in the series. These markers are covered in strange glyphs and have been found scattered throughout the galaxy. They drive people mad, turning them into marker-worshiping zealots, & also revive dead bodies into the zombie-like Necromorphs. 

Although the frozen setting, with abandoned human settlements & research areas, makes for an effectively claustrophobic environment for Necromorphs to jump out at you, I preferred the settings that took place in outer space. However, there was a sufficient variety in the environments that I never felt that the scenery was visually boring.

The game's strongest point is it's core feature- the survival horror aspect of the gameplay that continuously keeps you on the edge of your seat & ready to scream out expletives. Even when I knew the hideous, relentless creatures were coming, I still freaked out with anticipation at the inevitable vicious attacks. Most of the time, the Necromorphs would unexpectedly come from all angles as I would frantically try to use whatever weapons I had on hand to simply survive the encounter.

While I'm talking about the weapons, I'll mention the creative weapon crafting system in the game. Throughout the campaign, you collect various components such as frames, the actual weapons components, and attachments to customize your weapons in an endless variety of combinations. For example, you can have a gun that fires electrified bolas, with a secondary buzzsaw attached ...or you can have a shotgun, with a secondary rocket launcher. There are many possibilities, which gives you alot of freedom in coming up with weapons that you think will be most effective against the creatures. The only downside is that I found myself spending too much time tinkering with the weapons & having trouble deciding which ones to use.

There were a few select weapons that I used frequently, since the waves of Necromorphs could be so furious & overwhelming that I needed firepower that I knew could take them out quickly. There were only brief moments where I felt that I could relax & there were not going to be any monsters popping out at me.

Besides the unpredictable appearance of the enemies, the mood was mostly set by the visual effect of the environments & the unnerving sounds coming from dark corners or unseen places. Dark areas with flickering lights and strange screeches coming from nearby areas where enough to keep me on edge throughout the game. My only complaint about the sound was that there was too much background music. In the original game, the anxiety was enhanced by the silence of your surroundings, except for your breathing and unsettling ambient noises. I feel like having dramatic soundtracks in certain areas was unnecessary & didn't have the same effect as an uneasy quiet.

 The actual story, following the protagonist Isaac Clarke & the alien markers, was pretty interesting. It raises many questions, for example- Do we really want to have contact with otherworldly intelligences? What if they are hostile, or simply want to use human beings as food or pawns to manipulate for its own ends? What is so special about the individual consciousness versus a hive-mind, devoid of beings with a sense of self? Even if we discovered it, would humans know how to use & interpret alien knowledge or technology? What is love, and does it mean anything outside the people who experience it? Yes, there is a love story & human emotions involved...

Overall, I enjoyed Dead Space 3 & definitely recommend it, if you'd like a games that provides continual adrenaline rushes, due to the fear of being destroyed by undead space creatures.

• The Monkey Buddha's official rating: 7.5

No comments: