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February 25, 2013
Dead Space 3 - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
7/2/2013EA GamesEA GamesVisceral Games12
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Isaac Clarke returns in Dead Space 3.
Without a doubt Visceral Games' Dead Space franchise is one of my favourites - it has certainly surpassed Resident Evil as the best, and most exciting, in the "survival horror" genre. Two years since the last game in the franchise and we now have the third game in our hands, Dead Space 3. Does this game continue the highs set by previous titles in the franchise? In our opinion, yes, this is a pretty damn fine game.

Dead Space 3 brings Isaac Clarke and merciless soldier John Carver together on a journey across space to discover the source of the Necromorph outbreak, and in search of Ellie. Crash-landed on the frozen planet of Tau Volantis, Isaac must comb the harsh environment for raw materials and scavenged parts. He will then put his engineering skills to the ultimate test to create and customize weapons and survival tools. The ice planet holds the key to ending the Necromorph plague forever, but first Isaac must overcome avalanches, treacherous ice-climbs, and the violent wilderness. Facing deadlier evolved enemies and the brutal elements, Isaac isn't just fighting for his own survival, but for that of mankind too.

Upon first starting Dead Space 3 the opening Prologue sequence really leaves you with a "what the hell" feeling - this wasn't the game we were expecting, nor was it familiar to previous games in the franchise. Soon after though you're into the main game and things return to normal with a third person action-adventure game with levels littered with all forms of mutated enemies, and some humans to take out as well. Indeed while the game has shifted to a more action-oriented title, there are still plenty of frights. Turn off the lights, crank up the surround sound and this game takes on a whole new level of atmosphere. Play it in a well lit room, with quiet, stereo audio from your TV and you'll be missing much of the experience.

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Isaac targets some enemies ahead.
This game is really split into two main halves. The first takes place in space on a number of space ships - all of which seem to be infected with all manner of enemies. At times you will enter zero gravity moments where you will fly around in jetpacks - we just loved this, floating around in space, taking out enemies, and collecting objects. Of course you need to ensure you're not going to run out of air when out in space - but it is possible to upgrade your suit with new health, armour, air capacity, kinesis effects and so on.

The second half of this game takes place on the ice planet of Hoth Tau Volantis which includes some great moments battling through a snowstorm, some bigger enemies, and new non-spaceship-looking bases and locations. We're not going to spoil anything but the games story really picks up when you hit the planet although it's still not groundbreaking and there's a bit of a love triangle that seems unnecessarily forced throughout the game.

Expanded in this game is the ability to craft weapons with all manner of attachments. This is done by finding minerals (often using Scavenger Bots) littered around the world or, indeed parts of weapons. Starting with a frame you then add on the Upper and Lower Tools and Tips (primary and secondary weapons), attachments (Which may include health or stasis supports - which helps both yourself and the co-op partners) and the upgrade circuits. These Upgrade circuits are found throughout the game world, but may give you increased damage, clip size or reloads, with each weapon having a maximum of four slots to fill with these circuits. Needless to say the amount of options available provides a near unlimited number of weapon options.

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Demented enemies return in the third Dead Space.
One major concern we had with the direction of this franchise was the inclusion of a co-op mode. How could you take a suspenseful horror like game and then throw in another human to run around like an idiot? Well, EA and Visceral Games have proven me wrong as this co-op mode is actually a fantastic inclusion in the title with a lag-free experience. Not only that but you can play the main campaign in co-op, but at various points you'll encounter some co-op only side missions. Sadly there is no option for a 2-player split screen mode, online only but it's definitely worth spending your time in.

We do have a few issues with Dead Space 3 however, none of which destroy the game, but could have been refined or omitted. First of all it's clear that the developers have hidden the loading behind waiting for doors to open, moving around the levels in the lifts or behind cut-scenes. We're not sure what it would have taken but an optional Hard Drive install may have reduced these load times - still they are done well enough that it feels like these are in-world delays rather than loading off disc.

One topic that hit a lot of headlines prior to the game being released was that of Electronic Arts pushing Microtransactions in the game. We're mildly pleased to report that this allows you to buy minerals which can be used to create new items, rather than give you exclusive content. Essentially it will help those that can't be stuffed searching for minerals and objects by just allowing them to buy them immediately - it's pretty much paying to "cheat". We never used this, and you won't have to pay an extra cent either, but we can see it's another revenue stream for EA - it's just one we don't agree with. Never fear, while it will take more time, you can get exactly the same items by working hard in the game.

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Dead Space 3 includes co-op gameplay.
There are a couple of impressive bonuses in the game including several alternate game modes which are unlocked upon completing the game for the first time. One unlocked bonus is a Classic mode which disables co-op, and limits you to the weapons from the first Dead Space game. Pure Survival sees you needing to create all items needed through the game while the Insane Hardcore mode sees you given one life to complete the entire game - although you can save along the way fortunately.

Dead Space 3 is a visual marvel in every regard with superb levels of detail in everything that is presented with wonderful character models, stunning lighting, fabulous effects, and gorgeous cut scenes. Have I put enough superlatives there? Well if not, just know that this is one of the finest games we've seen on the PS3 and we're sure this game will hold up over time. Whether you're creeping around dimly lit corridors hoping nothing jumps out and frightens the crap out of you, or battling the freezing snowstorms on the planet Tau Volantis. All this is done at a 720p resolution at a near perfect 30fps frame rate with no screen tearing.

We can, however pick a very small faults with this game. First of all we would have liked a little more variety in the enemy design - players of previous games will note how familiar the enemies are and while there are some new ones, a little more variety would have been appreciated - perhaps a few less human enemies too. Another minor niggle is that the game occasionally has issues with the camera, especially in the close-quarter situations which makes taking out nearby enemies somewhat annoying. Still, these are minor niggles in an otherwise pretty gorgeous PS3 title.

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Detail levels in Dead Space 3 are superb.
Sonically this game is stunning in almost every regard. The sounds, and in particular picking up items, reloading weapons or using benches will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has enjoyed the Dead Space franchise. The surround sound channels are used non-stop through the game too and certainly helps to pinpoint enemies.

Music in Dead Space 3 is suitably atmospheric although (and this is a complaint I could level at many titles) it would be nice if the music somewhat abruptly cuts back as soon as all the enemies are cleared out of an area. Part of the suspense about this game is not knowing when enemies are around, but the music makes it all too clear when you've killed everything. Don't get me wrong though, the music is still fantastic overall. Dialogue is also quite solid with generally solid delivery, although the games storyline and scriptwriting could have been a bit better.

Dead Space 3 really leaves me in two minds - well, ok - is a brilliant game and definitely worth a purchase, but leaves me with a couple of minor concerns which aren't really gameplay related. On the one hand it's a superbly crafted game with stunning audio visual presentation, engrossing gameplay and plenty of jaw-dropping moments. On the other the series has moved away from the franchises horror roots to a more action based title, but more concerningly it's clear that with slow progression for weapon upgrades the developers are "encouraging" the use of microtransactions, while the amount of DLC is both good, but also concerning. Still, if you love the Dead Space franchise this is well worth checking out

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSThere is just so much to love about Dead Space 3 visually. It looks super at all times.
SOUNDMusic and effects are fantastic, surround sound gets a workout but dialogue occasionally disappoints slightly.
GAMEPLAYThe Dead Space franchise has always played well, is scary, and this third game is no exception although it doesn't advance the series greatly. Co-op works surprisingly well.
VALUEIt will take around 15 hours to get through the game, but you may replay and there's side missions too. Then you unlock some great bonus game modes.
OVERALLDead Space 3 is a very entertaining game although it doesn't advance the franchise greatly. Still, it's one to add to the collection.

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