After having played Dead Space 3 all the way through, tested all the gun parts, died on nearly all the action input sequences, and grappled with every necromorph with the gall to hump me with bladed arms. Final take? Yes and yes please. The gradual shift to action horror was flawless, the end result was glorious. I do have some nitpicking to do, however, but that’ll come somewhere within the general praise.
To avoid spoilers, I’ll give you a vague shorty about the final boss. It’s an epic fight, on the easy side, with a sequel-hinting post-credits conclusion. You can’t skip the long as hell credits sequence, so don’t hurt yourself searching for the “thanks but no thanks button.” First and foremost, Dead Space 2’s boss was tip-fricken-top. Challenging, horrifying, and generally unpleasant. Evil Nicole is evil, what with her screaming magical shining light into your face and making you shoot yourself with a javelin gun.
I’m a little concerned with Hardcore Mode, though. Since there’s still a fair bit of work to be done with the instant-kill hazards, particularly the cliff-climbing sequence. I mean, I shot my stasis at that sheet of ice six times, and it still blew me in half when I touched it. Have you ever been blown in half by an inert chunk of ice? Because I have. It hurts my feelings more than it hurts my tattered body, I can tell you that much. I also spontaneously exploded while fighting the Hydra for the last time. He was harpooned, I was winding him up, and SPLAT. Hardcore Mode is going to be impossible until some things are patched. Even so, I eagerly await the day I grow the balls to shoot for Retro Mode.
Overall, the introduction of optional missions and quasi-nonlinear areas really did the justice. They’re not really optional, because the rewards they yield are damn spiffy, and most everyone wants damn spiffy goodies. Magnesium Afterburner? Telemetry spike shotgun? Why yes, I would enjoy that. I’m sure you would too. Do the side missions.
In the end, there really weren’t a lot of new necromorphs to murder. You will see new versions of golden oldies, considering the prime of the necros this time around have had 200 years to decay. Good news is, the encounters are varied. You’ll get to see all your good friends from the first and second Dead Space! Twitchers? Yup! Stalkers? Oh yeah! Exploding babies? Sorta. They’re not babies so much as they are giant raspberries. There is one new necro that is particularly terrifying, however… The alien race that once populated the Marker homeworld was brilliant, powerful, and huge. They’re big. Imagine being chased by a steamroller made out of chainsaws. Spooky shit.
The plot focuses a bit too heavily around the Ellie-Norton-Isaac love triangle. I mean, Norton is a complete asshole, Ellie pays more attention to Isaac’s jealousy than the creepy boogies trying to eat her damn face off, and Isaac is such a cynical badass. He’s a character you can’t really help but to like. He also has one of the manliest pain shouts you’ll ever hear in a video game. You almost want him to die so you can hear it. That’s a bit off-topic, though. Plot-wise, it was great but not perfect.
Dead Space 3 deserves extra-special credit for doing their big-reveal-explain-absolutely-everything moment flawlessly. Once you discovered just what was happening, what “make us whole” means, your mind is blown. It’s exceptionally done, forethought and clarity apparent. Many would rate Dead Space 3 a poor game simply because it isn’t survival horror, but if they read my first review they’d shut the fuck up about that rot and give a fair opinion for once. Sequels done right.
Analysis: Yes. Very yes. If you enjoy the series and have the flexibility to endure/enjoy a change of pace, this will be the game with the most yes. I do recommend playing the three in order, or at the very least playing the second before the third. If you play the first then the third, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Counting is a good thing. One two three, not heep jeep four six one zero brap.
Nick Dinicola of PopMatters makes several good points about Dead Space 3, along with several poor points. But as we like making friend with our alternate reviewers, we encourage you to forget the latter portion of that initial remark. The praise given to Visceral for pacing the change of their game and maintaining quality throughout is deserved. Combat is much more action-packed and volatile, which should serve to keep you on your toes. That is, unless you’ve found out how to make a full-auto telemetry spike railgun. Er, anyway, review link. Read up, eh? http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/168585-dead-space-3/