Alternate title: On the Ice Planet, no one can hear me scream except my co op buddy and that's because we failed that stupid climbing sequence like 4 times.
Man, I’m surprisingly relevant this year. Normally, you’d be listening to me talk about some RPG that came out more than a decade ago and probably only came out in Japan or from similarly obscure roots. Well, not today. Today, we talk about a game that came out this week, as opposed to 1999. I’m on the bleeding edge here, and I’m not going to stop until I run out of blood (i.e. money. So… after this blog. Yeah, just don’t expect me to be writing about Bioshock Infinite any time soon). But before I regale you with tales of me dismembering limbs and being kinda “eh” about it, let’s talk other games.
I played through the first dungeon of Darksiders, and that game seems pretty neat with how blatantly derivative it is, but I could really do with fewer of those stupid challenge rooms the game seems to throw whenever padding is required. I also kind of dig the game’s extremely 90’s aesthetic and the deathly seriousness that it presents itself despite being the most McFarlane/Liefeld esque thing ever, at least to my untrained eyes. I’ll probably keep going, and I have the second one as well, so a direct comparison blog is not out of the question. Apparently people don’t like the second game as much? Other than that bit, not really much else, other than me messing with a bit of the post-game in Valkyria Chronicles II and the usual indecision that takes place whenever I finish a game and try to find a new one. Storm of Zehir? Dinosaurs? That game I intend to finish? That other game I intend to finish?
The game I actually finished
In an alternate universe, this blog would be about Fire Emblem. Sadly, because I don’t currently have a job and because the onset of adulthood has made my parents reluctant to purchase me video game related things, I don’t have a 3DS. Until I do, which is basically when I get a job in like the spring or something, I’m going to have to rely on Tear Ring Saga and it's "This is pretty much Fire Emblem but on acid" for my turn-based-tactical murdering action. But enough about that, let’s talk about Dead Space 3! It’s… ok? Yeah. Ok. That’s about the highest level of praise and enthusiasm I can muster for it. That’s unfortunate. As you may remember, Dead Space 2 was #3 on my “Best of 2012 that didn’t come out in 2012” list, and I put that game on roughly equal footing with the first game, which didn’t make a list whenever I played it, for whatever reason. Point is, I liked those other two games quite a bit, and I found this third one to be underwhelming, albeit competent and still enjoyable.
DS3 is a game that goes in the wrong direction, plain and simple. While I question the scariness of the other two games other than some cheap jump scares and some gloomy atmosphere, Dead Space 3 doesn’t even bother with either. It soon becomes apparent that enemies are going to spawn any time you do anything of note, and there will probably be a few behind you, or something. I’m usually not one for nitpicking nebulous traits like “atmosphere”, but the way the game is designed makes most of the non-set piece encounters in the game blur together into a mess of “BLARGITY BLARG I AM A NECROMORPH” followed by me shooting aforementioned fake-zombie in the legs with my chaingun. Much like our very own Brad Shoemaker, I blame the repetitive level design and lack of variety in enemies for that, both traits being far more prevalent in the second half of the game than the first. Also there are exactly 5 boss battles, 3 of which are against the exact same enemy, oh and they’re all on the ice planet. Blame everything on the ice planet, because I was actually enjoying myself quite a bit when I was on that flotilla of ships.
The ice planet is also when the story gets significantly dumber, so it has that in its favor too. Oh right. The story. It’s… something else. While I don’t think the first or second games are masterworks by any stretch, they kept it subtle for the most part and didn’t focus so much on the human drama (and the parts of DS2 that did were the parts that kinda sucked). I still maintain that making Isaac talk was a terrible idea, and the things they make him say in this one continue to confirm that assertion. This game loves itself some poorly-written human drama, and some poorly written explanations for what the actual nature of the markers actually are, leading up to an ending reveal that is hilarious in how colossally stupid it is. Carver sucks too, with his only character trait being that he is a tough-guy soldier prick for most of the game and then comes around for ill-explained reasons. Having played parts of the game solo and parts of the game with random people online, I can confirm that his presence seems forced when he is there and it’s even funnier when you’re playing through a segment alone and the game comes up with some absurd justification for why he can’t follow you around. It all operates on this middle ground between the isolation of the other games and the constant companionship of Resident Evil 5/6 and it doesn’t work nearly as well as either of those did (keep in mind that the presence of Sheva in RE5 didn’t bother me nearly as much as it apparently did for other people). I mean, the actual act of playing with another person makes things somewhat more enjoyable, especially if there is some shared humor involving my webcam mic being automatically turned on without my knowledge, but I’m going to side with the people who say that the co-op is totally unnecessary, but it also fits for the kind of game Dead Space 3 is and it’s sad that I have to say that.
If the game does something good, it’s that the shooting is still pretty great and the weapon customization is actually quite awesome. I messed around with various weapons before finally settling on what worked for me, which is to say a Contact Beam/Chain Lightning Gun on one hand and a Chaingun/Magnesium Afterburner on the other. However, if there is an issue that arises from this nifty customization, it’s probably the whole “universal ammo” thing. I was always drowning in it, and much like Deus Ex Invisible War it meant that I could abuse heavy weapons as well as I darn pleased, as you can tell from the above weapon choices. I bet the pure survival and the classic modes would fix those specific issues and I can confirm that I think the set weapons of the previous games were probably better, but it’s still a neat mechanic that fits the kind of game that Dead Space 3 is, which is to say that it’s a third person shooter where you shoot things that run directly at you. (Except for those parts where you fight enemies with guns because apparently that’s a thing that they needed to throw in. Those parts are also not great).
I’m not going to waste much more time with my prattle, other than to say that Dead Space 3 does its job with a workmanlike degree of competence, no more but possibly more less. I think I as a person could have probably been ok with not ever having to have played it, but at least it’s given me the opportunity to say that if you plan on playing this game, wait for it to be $30 and possibly grab a buddy so you can make fun of the story and kill necromorphs together. Now I’m poor and that much further away from Fire Emblem-ing it up. And that, dear reader, is the scariest thing of all.