ceno's Dead Space 3 (PC) review

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A solid and satisfying entry in the story of Isaac Clarke.

I'll go ahead and get this out of the way: Dead Space 3 is less scary and far more action-oriented than its predecessors. That said, the game provides the trilogy with a very satisfying finale that evokes H.P. Lovecraft's classic At the Mountains of Madness in more ways than one.

By far the biggest changes to the core gameplay are both the inclusion of human opponents and the complete redesign of how crafting and resources work. Isaac Clarke returns as the series protagonist, and can now crouch in cover and dodge roll as well. To be honest, I never used or needed the cover system. The Unitologist opponents never required it of me, so their presence simply meant a new type of enemy to fight (albeit one that can shoot back at you). The dodge roll, on the other hand, was quite useful in several circumstances, like dodging rockets or rolling out of the way of the melee attacks of larger opponents. In any case, I was never annoyed at having to fight human enemies. On the contrary, they provided a nice break from the usual necromorph dismembering that Isaac is up to.

The work bench has seen significant changes. Gone completely are credits, the currency that previous iterations in the franchise used to purchase weapons, power nodes and upgrades. Instead now, you collect several types of resources (tungsten, somatic gel, etc) that can be used to both improve your RIG, build or improve weapons, and craft other items like ammo or medpacks. Throughout the beginning of the game, it feels like the resource barrier will be impossible to overcome, but I found myself swimming in resources a little over halfway through the game, making the somewhat controversial inclusion of micro-transactions completely and utterly moot. In fact, it almost feels like Visceral Games went out of their way to provide you with enough resources, and the DLC option was simply a corporate mandate from EA that they were obligated to include. One of the consequences of this change is that Isaac's suit is now entirely cosmetic, so you can wear the one you think is the coolest without having to worry about losing out on any potential passive bonuses.

The controls and shooting feel tight and responsive, very similar to Dead Space 2. Ammo is done a bit differently this time, as it is universal. Since ammo is contained within clips now, it is possible to burn through ammo by compulsively reloading, as you can lose ammo that you haven't shot. Graphically, the game is stunning. There is some slight repetition in environmental design in the optional missions, but the core story environments are always impressive and relatively varied. The voice acting is very much on point and the overall sound design is right up there with the best in the franchise.

I have not had a chance to play any of the co-op missions, and other than a few points in the game where your co-op partner shows up somewhat inexplicably to move the story forward, I didn't find any design elements particularly obtrusive.

The story itself is far grander in scope than anything we've seen in Dead Space before. Visceral thoroughly answers questions about Unitology and the nature of the Markers, and while I found it harmless and moderately interesting, they probably answer more questions than we were ultimately asking. A lot of the story focus revolves around Isaac's personal journey, both in his relationship with Ellie (who returns from Dead Space 2) and coming to terms with his own role as someone who can both make and destroy Markers. All in all, it provides a satisfying end to Isaac's story, and leaves a carrot dangling should the franchise continue.

The biggest negative aspect of the game is the newly redone save system, which does away with manual save points in favor of an obfuscated and frankly bizarre autosave system that manages inventory and progress separately. I didn't personally experience any loss of progress, but you definitely can if you save and quit before reaching a progress checkpoint in the environment. I honestly have no idea why this decision was made. The only bug I encountered had to do with Origin either not registering the in-game achievements, or registering them somewhat randomly.

Dead Space 3 is not the best game in the franchise (for my money, that still belongs to the second game), but it is a very well done and satisfying end to one of the best original franchises to come out of this generation. Highly recommended.

This review is based on the PC version of the game, played on the hard difficulty setting.

Edited by hellos

I have to agree with the sentiment the scares could arguably have gone down in favor of more action from the last two games - given the slew of enemies the game throws quite mercilessly at you. Often enough any fear really comes from that, what will be the next slew of monsters thrown at me to kill me. Necromorphs are still as sneaky as ever.

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