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In space no one can hear you complain
on 7 February 2016
Third time is not a charm for long-suffering spaceship engineer Issac Clarke. Since he escaped the Titan Sprawl his life has been on a downward spiral, Ellie has left him, his landlord is kicking him out of his New Horizons bedsit, and he's a broken man. Wouldn't you be after facing the Necromorph menace twice already? In the meantime EarthGov has fallen and the Unitologists, led by the odious Jacob Danik, are bombarding what is left of humanity. Issac is seized by the last EarthGov battalion and hurtled to the other side of the galaxy to Tau Volantis, a frozen planet orbited by 200-year-old wrecks of the Sovereign Colonies. Ellie, convinced she has found the Marker homeworld, is somewhere amid the wrecks and has assembled a ramshackle plan to destroy the Necromorphs once and for all.
After a slow start, the game is sort of split into two halves as Issac explores the decaying, orbiting wrecks and solves the mystery of the frozen planet below. The first half feels a lot like the familiar Dead Space formula while the second half feels like a generic shoot-em-up in the vain of COD. The relentless wave after wave of Necromorphs is mind-numbing. The overwhelming sense of dread and gut-wrenching anxiety that permeated every square inch of the first two games is largely gone. There are still shocks and scares, and the sound of elevators arriving are still frighteningly similar to the shrieks of the Necromorphs but it feels stale at this point. I felt like logic and sense took a back seat here. How did the Necromorphs end up on the New Horizons colony? How did they end up on the CMS Roanoke or Greely for that matter? It's never clearly explained. Why did the Sovereign Colonies Armed Forces panic so easily and opt for mass-murder/suicide instead of pushing for further research into the alien machine? It seemed like such a mindless and heavy-handed reason to have Tau Volantis scattered with body parts.
It seems like it goes on forever, even if you ignore the optional side-quests. Upgrading your weapons and suits never feels like it has a noticeable effect but the weapons crafting feature can lead to some fun inventions. The co-op gameplay comes across like a last-minute addition (and it was) and it is not the kind of thing Dead Space fans want from this series. Online play is necessary for the Platinum Trophy but there's no way I can get it as the Hardcore trophy is just too difficult and time-consuming, especially since you cannot skip the cut-scenes.
Dead Space 3 was a best-seller, but not best enough for Electronic Arts who have put the series on hiatus, though they insist that Dead Space 4 WILL happen, we'll just have to wait and see. It is a shame that a groundbreaking horror experience has been reduced to a generic shoot-em-up bore. The amount of DLC offered on the PSN for this game is outrageous and proof that EA are only out to exploit the fanbase rather than give them their money's worth up-front.
DEAD SPACE 3: AWAKENED - 2/5
The "final chapter" DLC is over very quickly and gives us a confusing, though interesting, insight into what becomes of Issac and Carver after the climax of the main game. I know for a fact that Dead Space 4, when/if it ever happens, will retcon this stupid ultimate ending as "it was all a dream". Worth playing once just for curiosity though.