Every once in awhile you run across a game that is both enjoyable and frustratingly irritating. Dead Space 3 fits that bill. It's great to have another episode in the story of Isaac Clarke, but many things have changed since the last two games. Firstly, the game has veered more into a shooter than a horror game, but that actually makes some sense. We cannot reasonably expect Isaac to be surprised by the necromorphs anymore. Secondly, a co-op mode has been added (more about that later) and thirdly, crafting unique weapons at the bench is a new feature.
One nice addition is the recap of Dead Space events found in the Extras menu, which sets the stage for this next phase. This segment picks up with Isaac lamenting the loss of his relationship with his girlfriend, Ellie Langford, a character we encountered in Dead Space 2. We're left to assume the particulars of this relationship as it's not covered in either game other than to indicate that Isaac's past traumas have made him emotionally distant. However, Isaac seems very cut-up about it and when he learns that she has disappeared on a research project concerning the necromorphs, he is persuaded to join forces with the last battalion of EarthGov to find her. Once again, the plot revolves around the Marker and Isaac's main nemeses, the Unitologists. Since this basic story has really been told twice before, there's not much more you can say about it. Two other characters have been introduced, John Carver and Ellie's new boyfriend, Robert Norton, which causes constant tension and rivalry between the two men.
So let's talk about the new feature of crafting. You need to collect circuits and ingredients that enable you to build new weapons or modify others. It's extremely versatile, so that individuals can craft their own unique guns or buy pre-formulated blueprints that are found throughout the the game. Items are collected by various means including the usual stomping of dead necromorphs, breaking crates and opening lockers. Now, all of this could be a lot of fun except for the fact that one ingredient needed for almost everything from weapon crafting to suit upgrades is very scarce - Tungstan. You will not see much of this till later in the game, but even then drops are random and some players may be luckier than others. This means you cannot craft much in the way of parts till after that unless you buy this ingedient with real money. Which brings me to microtransactions. Is this a thinly disguised "pay to win" game? The answer is no, you don't need it to win, but if you want to get the most out of this feature by trying a variety of weapons and armor, you do. There are other things to buy such as bot upgrades, with most costing $4.99. Given this game was $60.00 on release, these are extortionate prices. I didn't get much satisfaction out of the crafting as I never had enough tungsten to craft a lot of different weaons, but perhaps in new game + with retained weapons and upgrades, you could use your collected tungstan to experiment more.
There have been some changes made to combat options as well. Isaac and Carver can now roll and take cover to avoid attacks, a mechanic appropriate to a game that has moved more towards a shooter. Carver is the AI in single-player that can be assumed as a co-op partner. There are co-op exclusive areas, which are not accessible in single-player, so these extra parts of the story and any bonuses included in these are missing in single-player mode. Some people took objection to this, including myself. Other mechanics include two-handed timed puzzles where you need to perform moves with both hands simultaneously using the mouse plus the keyboard direction keys. I personally detested these.
I've never been overly impressed with Dead Space graphics/visuals, finding them uneven and poor for a game of this generation. Sometimes it looks like people's parts don't fit together in quite the proper fashion and the coloring and shading is just bad. Perspectives and angles never seem to be quite right. But this becomes more apparent in the still screenshots than in the game when you are concentrating more on surviving.
The game continues to use the checkpoint save system of previous games, but it is pretty awful. There are zero checkpoints in optional missions, so be careful at what point you choose to slot these into the main game or you could lose all previous progress in the main quest as well.
Dead space 3 did not sell to the expectations of the publisher (although it did reasonably well) and the franchise is on hold. We won't be seeing Dead Space 4 any time soon. But is it any wonder? When you pay $60.00 for a game at release, you don't expect to be paying more to fully experience parts of the game. You also don't expect to see the unlockable co-op content while in single player mode. When are developers and publishers going to learn? Games that are very popular are popular for a reason. Remove those reasons and you remove the reasons why people buy it.
But aside from that, the story has really been squeezed to death and at approximately 75% completion, the gameplay winds down into a weak ending, which culminates in an easy final boss. There's not much more you can say about the Markers, so it's time for them to go. You could, however create a different story for Isaac. I think people would like to see him again.
After completion, you can play New Game + starting with all your inventory and upgrades. It also unlocks several other modes. Dead Space 3 is not the best of games, but it's not the worst either. However, I wouldn't pay top dollar for it.