With the success of the first two Dead Space games, can Visceral Games give gamers a better experience through co-op with Dead Space 3?
Back when Isaac Clarke first encountered the Marker and the gruesome Necromorphs in the ship USS Ishimura, the dank and dark hallways dripping with blood and body parts revitalized the survival horror gaming scene. Necromorphs still pop out in attempt to feast on your innards when you least expected it – and no place is safe, even if the location is in the elevator or having a Bench and/or Suit station.
While Dead Space 1 and 2 is about fighting for your own survival and experiencing the agony and insanity the victims went through, the current feels somewhat muted. The scary factor is downplayed, but there is a silver lining in this. Players new to the franchise can jump right in, and those who are too scared to play the first two will be able to jump into the game more comfortably, gory bits and all.
Apart from Necromorphs, Unitologists will be around to stop you at the later part of the game, and dismembering human appendages might be morbid to some, while gratifying to others. Melodrama is frequent and abundant when a triangle relationship and conflicting ideals between saving humanity and saving your own skin. This addition also contributes to the reduction of the chilling atmosphere that is present in the previous installments.
Graphics and textures have not much difference from the previous installment and feels slightly dated, but lighting effects and other filters add on to the grandeur of certain environments within the game. On our test machine running on max settings on a 7870 with a year old high-end CPU, the average FPS hits between 150 to 250, with the lowest at 120. Undoubtedly, the game is sure to operate at silky smooth frame rates even on a laptop at medium settings.
Visceral Games has tweaked a few components within the franchise, and these changes are a welcoming one. The Bench station allows you to create weapons from materials and resources gathered throughout the game. Now before you forget Isaac Clarke is an Engineer and not a soldier, you cannot argue that he isn’t able to ‘conjure’ up weapons based on spare parts. After all, he did turn a medical laser cutter into a weapon in the second installment.
From these materials, you not only can create weapons, but also ammo, stasis pads and even torque wrenches that enable you to enter otherwise inaccessible rooms filled with loot and weapon schematics. But the true delight comes in creating the weapon best suited for your style of play. Do you prefer rapid fire weapons as compared to wide range weapons? My personal choice is a souped up plasma cutter and a chaingun fitted with a rocket launcher.
Materials gathered can also be used to create upgrade modifier modules to weapons and increasing its slots. Of course, this applies to Suit upgrades as well. Unfortunately, swapping out different suits does not give you increased defensive or offensive capabilities. They are purely for cosmetic purposes, with the exception of Suits made to endure cold environments.
While most trailers show the snowy planet of Tau Volantis, there is actually a fare bit of exploration to experience in deep space. Abandoned space ships are gold mines that contribute to the parts, and provide some background story to the previous inhabitants who came to a gory end two centuries ago.
The co-op system is a great experience, letting you play as Carver if you choose to join an ongoing game session. Don’t worry about your partner stealing your medi-gel, as the system is smart enough for both parties to obtain the same thing. You can opt to trade items with your partner as well if your inventory is full and wish to collect other precious materials or schematics instead.
Controls are tight as they were in the previous installment, unlike the clunky and sluggish movements of the first. Some side missions can only be accessed via co-op, and will affect your completion percentage. While the difficulty will be increased during co-op play, watching your partner’s back from another location makes short work of stopping the horde of Necromorphs. Despite encountering some connection problems during co-op, the gameplay is still very fun.
The original essence of Dead Space is reduced, but the flavour is still there, and more palatable with casual gamers looking to gun down gut-hungry aliens. Now, someone else can hear you scream in space.