Yesterday mega published Electronic Arts dropped their latest installment in the über popular undead sci-fi survival-ish romp that is Dead Space 3. The title is finally here, but a mere glance over its shoulder reveals a road paved with controversy. The most bludgeoning of which came when EA announced microtransactions would be introduced to the franchise. For those gaming purists and others not in the know, a microtransaction system allows players to pay real money for in-game items such as player clothing, weapons, resources, boosts to XP and the like. It’s a great and proven model for Free-2-play games where the cost of entry is $0.00 or mobile games where the initial fee is nominal at just a few buck$.
Dead Space 3 hits your wallet for a full $60 and then goes on to salaciously temp your billfold for even more. If it had implants and was on stage gyrating against a metal pole, I would call a duck a duck. But despite its strip club similarities and the financial molestation of those hungry for instant gratification, (isn’t that what cheat codes and walkthroughs are for?) we all want to know, Is the game any good? So I turn again to the quick-to-publish games media for enlightenment. You guessed it, the Dead Space 3 Metareview now awaits your perusal.
With such a loaded opening, let me continue by stating, Dead Space 3 seems to hold a warm place in the hearts of the gaming press. This is in lieu of all the fan-protested changes like online co-op, Gears of War-style cover mechanics, Kinect voice command support and the aforementioned microtransactions. Challenging, to say the least, must have been flavor of such an endeavor. How could such sweeping change not throw the game off-balance? To this Destructoid makes an interesting point, Visceral’s new “…’improvements’ do nothing but get in the way of everything fans loved about the series.“ Well that’s no surprise. All the change seems like a ploy almost, to garner all the “popular” game mechanics from other games, into a single cauldron for instant and near-microwavable mass appeal. Destructoid ultimately feels “Dead Space 3 still retains the flavor and quality we’ve come to expect.” But they do note in parting, “Sadly, newcomers with no preconceptions will likely enjoy this rollercoaster more than the series’ fans.“
Eurogamer is much less forgiving, noting the developers have tilted this installment of Dead Space more toward action and away from actual survival horror. Although it’s my opinion the series was only horror-based in imagery alone. The necessary tropes of horror like isolation, hopelessness and vulnerability were never issues the protagonist had to seriously wrestle with. Again the newness creates an amalgam of good and bad. Eurogamer mentions contradictory mechanics, such as main character Isaac’s lack of preparedness for his more action-y roll in Dead Space 3. “…despite the more action-centric universe he finds himself in he’s still unable to shoot from the hip” Oops! However, they ultimately feel Dead Space 3 is a “… breathlessly entertaining game…“ But what about those microtransactions?
New to the game is the ability to craft weapons and the like by hand, using resources scavenged from crates and the undead you’ve laid low. Or you can purchase these resources with real money. Eurogamer quickly noticed the changes this brings to the gameplay, “… by breaking everything down into constituent parts it tips here into something more akin to a loot-drop RPG. Every crate must be smashed, every corpse stomped, every corner investigated just in case the parts you miss are the parts you need at the next bench.“ While I’m glad the title holds up, the contradictory mechanics are disappointing. If survival is key and enemies are at every turn, when would I find the time to meticulously scour every piece of undead flesh and smash open every crate?
Interesting stuff so far. But Kotaku comes right out and tells you why you should and shouldn’t play Dead Space 3. Their reasoning for why you shouldn’t, “…this isn’t how Dead Space should be remembered. Play 1 or 2 instead, and savor the happy (creepy) memories.” Kotaku goes on to call the levels “boring” and “repetitive”. Enjoyable moments include being able to “….sit on a turret and blast through dozens of Necromorphs.” and discovering the prequel events that lead to the current setting through audio logs and reading through text entries. Not particularly inspiring stuff. But Kotaku does state, “ it’s fun to play with a friend.” at which point the editor could “…focus on fighting interesting creatures with amazingly fun weapons. And maybe that’s enough.” Maybe.
I have to say I was less concerned about the microtransaction model–understanding its optional intent–and more interested to know how the whole co-op thing panned out. Ars Technica reveals,”Co-op feels like a natural extension of the series, not a tacked on last-minute value-add.” That is to say the world feels like it was built from the ground up with the idea of two protagonist traversing each setting–and that’s exactly how it should feel. Ars echoes Kotaku’s sentiment on the co-op play and calls it a “killer implementation” and great for playing with a friend. They also like the newly introduced crafting mechanic dubbing it “deep” for creating “incredible killing machines.” Still Ars ultimately feels all this can be enjoyed as a rental rather than spending your hard-earned $60.
Now let’s hear from the complete other side of the fence. These Game Informer quotes require a disclaimer of sorts. Just remember this is the company that is owned by Gamestop, whose sole interest is the peddling of video games. Any bashing is just bad business. So with that, Game Informer calls the crafting system, “... best weapon-crafting system I’ve ever encountered. “ To their credit the crafting does sound like loads of fun with seemingly limitless variables and modifiers to bring out new features and abilities from crafted items. They also agree with most other outlets, Dead Space is definitely more of an action shooter now than ever. The judgment of such is better left to readers/players. But GI are in the minority concluding, “Dead Space 3 evolves the winning formula into a title not only befitting of the fantastic series, but also one of the best games of this generation.” To this I say, Uhhhh…
Honestly I still need to crack the cellophane on my copy of the game. This is just a glimpse into the minds of those who’ve played. Overall it sounds like it’s fun stuff, especially with a buddy. But waiting for a reduced price sounds like the smart course of action. It should be noted: Dead Space is the exact same game on all systems. No special PC attention or graphics enhancements for this one. Also, RockPaperShotgun has pointed us all to a video detailing how to bypass the goofy microtransactions. Yup! Someone has already figured out how to circumvent EA’s real money-grab. That time and money-saving piece of media lies below. Enjoy and let us know what you think of Dead Space 3.
Shawn loves gadgets, literature, history and games. For 10yrs+ he's straddled both the comic book & video game industries, as a writer, editor, marketing officer & producer. Shawn got his start in tech & games as an editor & Hardware Director for GameRevolution.com. More notable accomplishments include Executive Producer on mobile games Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved & The Shroud.