Dead Space was our runner-up for Game Of The Year 2008, and when a prequel was announced for Wii AND it was an on-rails lightgun shooter…
I got nervous.
Jump inside for the full review.
DS Extraction takes place just before the events of the original game, and I do mean JUST BEFORE. There are moments of narrative overlap between the two titles, and a few key questions answered concerning the state of things on the USG Ishimura (like why the HELL the auto cannons weren’t working).
If you’ve followed the 6 episode animated comic (included as a bonus feature on the disk), watched the animated feature, and played the first game, the locations, weapons, and enemies will be familiar. The developers have clearly mastered George Lucas’ concept of a ‘lived in’ universe, and subtly call back some of the cooler set pieces from the previous game.
For all the fan service Extraction includes, if you haven’t stepped into the Dead Space universe previously, you won’t be lost.
Playing to the strength of their intended platform, the developers created what is essentially a light gun game… but that would be selling Extraction short. The game is paced and presented in a very cinematic manner. Choosing the first-person view, and putting the player on a predetermined path allows a precisely controlled experience. Rather than hoping a player is looking in the right direction, at the right time, the developers know exactly where your attention will be focused, intensifying the horror elements and emotional impact.
Not having to draw, render, and account for object in the room you’ll never actually see also lowers the CPU/GPU overhead, making this game the best looking title currently offered on the Wii.
Long stretches of gameplay leave you watching character interaction and development, with little interaction as a player. While this may sound like a bad thing, it rarely becomes annoying, and by the end of the game, you appreciate the time spent building a relationship with these characters.
It’s like watching a decent horror movie, only you can make a few decisions along the way, shoot the bad guys, and it makes you give a damn about the outcome.
Where I come from, that’s pretty cool.
I did run into a few problems though. The aiming reticle rarely lined up with the sights on my zapper, and repeated attempts at calibration only seemed to make it worse. Eventually I just started watching the on screen reticle and ignored the gun sights entirely. I was much happier.
A few times a cut-scene would begin before I had finished killing all the enemies in an area. Hilarity (and some frustration) ensued when I was turned away from the critter to engage in a calm conversation with my fellow survivors… while I was still being attacked, and eventually killed, by the creature behind me. This required me to play the same area again from a recent checkpoint.
Aside from those few gripes, I have nothing but praise for Dead Space Extraction. Getting away from the typical lightgun formula of throwing as many enemies at you as they can, as fast as possible, EA/Visceral just might have redefined what an ‘on-rails shooter’ should be.
Matt says BUY IT.
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