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February 26th, 2013, 14:44
Finished Dead Space 3 over the weekend.

DS3 takes place 3 years after the events of DS2, and you once again find yourself in the boots of Isaac Clarke as he battles another necromorph outbreak.

Unfortunately, that's about the only similarity between this game and DS 1&2.

Visceral Games decided to focus more on action and co-op aspects in DS3, and the result is a very different feel compared to the prequels. Unlike DS 1&2, there are quite a few NPCs in this game, and a significant increase in the amount of interaction with them. There's also a *lot* more action - which is saying something considering that DS 1&2 weren't exactly lacking in action to begin with. There were long stretches where I felt like I was playing a Gears of War clone rather than a Dead Space sequel.

There were also a number of fundamental changes to this sequel that rubbed me the wrong way.

For one, the amount of loot is ridiculous. The prequels weren't the epitome of realism when it came to finding health and ammo, but DS3 takes it to a whole new level. There's way too much stuff just lying around, and, to make matters worse, items actually respawn in some places. It's possible to farm for health/ammo/materials by simply walking into some rooms, collecting the item, and then exiting and reentering to find another item. That pretty much destroyed any sense of immersion for me in those areas.

If that wasn't bad enough, item crates also respawn upon reloading a save even if you've already cleared that area.

That leads me to mention the new save system, or rather lack thereof. In DS 1&2 there were save stations that you had to reach in the game to manually save your progress. Although it was a console-like feature, I liked it because it added to the tension when you were running low on health and trying to survive to reach that next station. They decided to eliminate those for DS3 and go with nothing but an autosave. Even worse, you're also confined to a single save slot now.

There's an option to replay any chapter you've previously completed, but then you'll lose your current progress as soon as the game autosaves. So if you want to replay an area that you particularly liked, you'll have to manually back up your save file first. I think it's a terrible system any way you look at it, and I don't understand why they chose to go that route.

They also got rid of all the different ammo for the weapons in the game. Now everything uses the same ammo clip ala Deus Ex: Invisible War. I can understand why they did this because of the focus on co-op and the weapon building, but it was another immersion breaker for me in single-player. I would have prefered if they had just reduced the amount of ammo instead. For instance: instead of having unique ammo for every weapon, why not just have three main types? They could have broken it down to ammo for energy weapons, projectile weapons, and flame weapons. I realize it's probably just a minor change to most people, but I couldn't stop thinking of how ridiculous it was that my pulse rifle and flame thrower used the exact same kind of clip.

DS3 is also much longer than the prior games. There are 19 chapters in all, and I'd estimate that my play time was roughly equal to DS 1&2 combined. It's not a good thing in this case though, as there's quite a bit of filler compared to the prequels. Some of the side missions feature layouts that are almost identical, and it's hard not to notice.

I won't go into any details about the plot except to say I wasn't impressed. There are a few things that just don't add up compared to the other games, and the writing is inconsistent at best.

The game does have its moments. In particular, I thought the second main area you reach was fantastic at times. Unfortunately, you don't spend a whole lot of time there, and then it's off to where most of the game takes place.

You also get to build your own weapons in this game, either from blueprints or just randomly putting parts together yourself. I enjoyed experimenting with different builds, and it was one of the few redeeming aspects for me. Most of the weapons from DS 1&2 are included, although some of them look different now.

Ironically, their decision to go for more sales by making DS3 more action and co-op oriented may have backfired. Their opening week sales were down by 26.6% compared to DS2, and the user scores on Metacritic are significantly lower than DS1&2. I can only hope they learn a lesson from this and go back to what made the series so popular to begin with.

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