Are two heads better than one?
The Dead Space franchise was almost a revival of survival horror, especially after Resident Evil turned into more of an action-shooter. I’ve played every Dead Space game to date and have loved the series; it’s been full of truly memorable moments, scary and definitive of the survival horror experience. When it was announced that Dead Space 3 would offer co-op, I didn’t know what to think…would it ruin the concept? Would it make it a weaker game? Is it necessary? The answer is a yes with a but…
The story takes place 2 months after the Sprawl incident in Dead Space 2, but the story is linked to well over 200 years ago when scientists came so close to stopping the Markers. The plot is gripping remains true to the series’ roots with fanatical Unitologists and the deadly and creepy Necromorphs. The cast is memorable and the story is great from start to end. There are co-op specific areas where Issac and Carver go and if you play as Carver then you see his hallucinations, which are trippy to say the least.
The gameplay of Dead Space hasn’t changed that much for the third outing, but the enemies have got tougher and faster, sometimes I felt overwhelmed with the amount of enemies. Crafting has been introduced so you can make your own weapons or create them with blueprints found through the campaign or shared with friends via co-op, but these need resources that you gather by yourself and through maintenance bots which will take them to your workbench 10 minutes after being deployed. You can also buy resources with real money, which has divided gamers but it’s a nice option for those who just don’t have the time (or patience) to collect them.
If there’s one real problem, it’s the way co-op is handled. I thought the game would offer drop in and out gameplay, but when joining games you quickly realise that you can’t join the game until the player either restarts the checkpoint or reaches the next one, there’s also problems triggering the specific co-op only missions, essentially I found out that you have to start the chapter from almost the beginning to make it appear, which is silly since you can’t just hop in to them. It would have been easier if you could just select the co-op missions from the quick menu when searching for matches.
Having said that, having a co-op partner definitely helps with the overall game. The only downside is that you can’t have one when playing Classic mode, which isn’t too bad really. There are other difficulty options include a mode where you cannot die at all, but I’ve heard it’s do-able as long as you backup your saves.
Visually, Dead Space 3 is a joy to look at. It rarely suffers framerate drops and its really pushing the hardware to its limits; the enemies are well designed and varied too. If there’s one thing that bugged me it’s the optional missions for the game which mostly feel like recycled areas, it just seemed like a wasted opportunity. Voice-acting is great for the most part and the music is creepy and matches the atmosphere really well.
While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Dead Space 3 is a great sequel to the series and I for one hope it continues in some form. The co-op is fun, although getting to co-op only missions is a real chore. I would say it doesn’t lose its edge and the scares are still in there if you were worried about that, it still makes me jump from time to time, even if I’ve replayed an area a few times…it’ll catch me off-guard. That’s the beauty of Dead Space and long may it carry on.