Just like Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.
Dead Space: Extraction is a game that doesn’t trust you. It assumes a few things. It:
1. assumes you are an inept jackass who can’t play games for squat, you worthless swine.
2. assumes you play games on the Wii people buy. Those kinds of games.
3. assumes you rode and loved Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
It rips direct control away from you and forces you to watch a 6-hour long sequence of events play out, which is occasionally interrupted by fairly mediocre light-gun action. It fully believes that you would skip every little instance of plot if you had the choice, so it forces you down by soldering your ass to the couch and even tapes your thumbs together, which is arguably the worst part, because you fully believe you’re fully capable of freeing yourself of this situation, but you can’t. You just can’t. You’re pulling as hard as you can, to the point where tears start ejaculating from your eyes, but it just isn’t happening. Figuratively speaking.
Maybe, by the end of it, you end up thanking the game for the things it did, because I sure felt grateful. Extraction is more or less a ride and qualifies itself as a game by occasionally letting you shoot stuff. It’s not the shooting that makes it any good, because it isn’t well-done; it’s how it maintains a good, pulsing energy throughout the entire game by always moving. Always stringing together another motion-captured moment, always feeding its characters dialogue and always trying to extract the most out of this limited genre. Heh.
It’s not that the narrative is the most interesting thing in the world, because all it is is a group of survivors who try to make their way up to the Ishimura, where the original Dead Space takes place, only to realize that, dude, you’re in the Ishimura. We should probably get out of here. It’s the moment-to-moment stuff that makes it interesting, as characters constantly chatter amongst themselves and new dilemmas pop up left and right. It’s pretty exciting and it’s executed with a lot of polish. Character models express themselves convincingly and the game looks really good. This really is one of the best-looking games on the Wii and if you were to, let’s say, spin in circles for one minute before playing the game, your brain might interpret Extraction as Dead Space, because really, it looks great.
That’s what Extraction is best at. Very high production values are the foundation of this game, because what little light-gun shooting there is isn’t very good. There are a multitude of reasons, but the first problem is the starting distance between you and the necromorphs. They’re almost always way off the in distance, offering little tension as they apathetically lurch towards you. It’s a shooting gallery, making the actual playable parts of the game rather uneventful. This issue does start to get rectified towards the end of the game, but by then, it’s a little too late.
Extraction’s also very dark. Atmospherically, it works, since you’re not controlling any of the movements, the game is. When you’re shooting though, it’s irritating. Necromorphs blend with the dark so well that it can be hard to make out what you’re shooting. It’s a reminder of what Doom 3 tried to do with its Tactical Flashlight Swapping Action Time mechanic, and we all know that was a pretty miserable experience. It’s almost as miserable here, but again, it’s a shooting gallery, only this time, the lights are off. True, the game has a rewaggable glowstick, but it only really lights up what's about a foot or two in front of you, not that necromorphs pelting you with bone rockets off in the dark corner.
The game also plays with some of the mechanics in Dead Space, like zero-g, but they’re stripped down to the point that it only reminds of how cool zero-g was in Dead Space. Upgrades are nothing more than pointing and grabbing the shiny blue hexagon to get an ammo capacity upgrade. Telekinesis acts as an elongated hand grabbing the stuff that shines. Stuff from the original game finds some neat contextual use in Extraction and nothing more.
After your brief run-through of the game, you can try the Challenge Modes, which contain more not-so-good shooting action. The meatier stuff lies in the animated comics, which chronicles all the chaos that goes down in the Ishimura before you enter it. It’s neat and it answers questions.
Even though I dug the game, Dead Space: Extraction is a game you probably shouldn’t buy. It’s really short and higher difficulty levels only mean the weak shooting will last longer. It’s the ultimate rental. It offers a satisfactory trip through the chaos and ends at an appropriate point in the Dead Space chronology. I never really liked Dead Space very much, but Extraction was good fun because it wasn’t mired by the problems I had with that game. Extraction is on the extreme opposite of the spectrum, relinquishing control from my hands and offering a steadier, less monotonous experience. I think it worked as well as a game like this could, so the game’s a success, all things considered.