Dead Space Extraction is probably one of the most surprising games I've played this year as it's a game that came out of now where and is backed by amazing production values and polish. Despite being an on-rails game Dead Space Extraction has all the Dead Space trademarks we would come to expect and in some regards pulls them off a bit better than the first game. Dead Space Extraction is such a polished and thrilling experience that it should be required to play if you own a Wii game like action/horror games.
Extraction has some very nice visuals that really set the mood and scale of the game. The game mechanics are a blast and shooting a Necromorph is as fun as ever. The story for the game is put together wonderfully and you may wish this to be the way future Dead Space games are presented.
While this may sound silly the game is a bit too dark at times which can make it a tad difficult to aim at Necromorphs. It would've been nice if the game has some sort of exploration element, perhaps akin to Killer 7, instead of just occasional times where you can choose which path to go down. Some of the enemy encounters lose a bit of their luckster in the later stages since it's obvious when they're going to appear.
Dead Space wowed gamers last year on the PS3 and Xbox 360 and now EA is hoping gamers are wowed again with the debut of the franchise on the Nintendo Wii with Dead Space Extraction. Instead of following the further adventures of Isaac Clarke the game is a prequel to the events of Dead Space that follows a group of people as they try to survive the madness that is erupting on Aegis VII and the mining ship Ishimura. Oh yeah, the other thing about the game is that it ditches the 3rd person action/exploration elements in favor of fps on-rails game play. Despite this change Dead Space fans need not worry that the game is a shadow of its former self or is a cash-in on the franchise as Dead Space Extraction respects the franchise and it takes on-rails shooters to another level.
I have a feeling that a lot of Dead Space fans are extremely worried about how Extraction is an on-rails shooter. Tons of thoughts may be racing through their heads such as this change in game mechanics is because of the Wii can’t mimic the “true” Dead Space experience. The fact that the player has no control over their movement besides pointing the aiming reticule where they want to shoot may be a total deal breaker to some. But it must be said that the on-rails mechanics in Extraction are pretty superb and the game manages to separate itself from other on-rails games available for the Wii. At first some may think the experience in Extraction is no different from what you can play in House of the Dead or Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles but in reality it blows those games out of the water in some respects as Extraction is highly cinematic and immersive and almost provides a richer experience to that in the first Dead Space.
As I previously stated Extraction is a prequel to the first Dead Space and it follows a group of survivors of Aegis VII as they try to figure out what the hell is going on. The one thing that really makes Extraction excel is that it has a nice cast of characters all of which have unique personalities including the detective character you assume the role of. Fans of the first Dead Space may not dig this as Isaac’s silence and isolation was what made the game so creepy but there’s still a feeling of creepiness while moving through the dark corridors of Aegis VII or the Ishirmura.
Players will still a feeling of “oh boy, things may not end well” while playing Extraction even though you’re usually accompanied by two or three additional characters. If anything the inclusion of these characters and the fact that they actually talk and have personalities helps you grow a connection to them. These characters also help give the game a more cinematic feel to the game as there is a nice amount of in-game cut scenes where the story is advanced or your objective is laid out. When these cutscenes occur you won’ be dreading it as the voice acting is solid and the camera work, which is of course from your perspective, really immerses you in a role of a man who is trying not to be stabbed by some monstrous beast. And seeing visions of things or strange text appear on screen due to the affects of the mysterious alien Marker on the planet all in first person view really gives the game a creepier edge and makes those occurrences that much surprising when they happen.
The fact that the game is split up into chapters with the first one serving as a prologue to things may not be entirely unique but it just makes the game feel a bit richer in terms of the story. Having brief story interludes to set things up both for the level at hand and for later down the road along with giving chapters a cliffhanger ending will make you want to play the next one immediately to see what happens. Once again this aspect of the game greatly differs from the narrative in the first Dead Space but it works terrifically in Extraction and fits with the themes of the franchise. Having the game set up like this is almost like you’re watching and playing a Dead Space TV series due to the excellent story it has and that desire to see the story advance. Those who played the first Dead Space game will also appreciate the several connections Extraction has to it and how it expands upon things such as Isaac’s girlfriend Nicole. But if you never played the first Dead Space you shouldn’t worry feeling totally lost since the game does a nice job of filling players in on certain story elements via text logs which can be picked up.
To accompany this gripping story you’re given all the classic Dead Space weapons and scenarios you would expect along with a few new ones. More importantly dismemberment is still in a game and is the key way to take down Necromorphs that are after you. Don’t let the fact that this is an on-rail shooter for the Wii fool you into thinking that the game holds back on the action you would expect from a Dead Space game. Things are still intense as ever and if not are a bit tenser due to the lack of movement you have which almost makes every enemy encounter a nail biting situation. You have all the weapons you would expect from the game such as a pistol, machine gun, flamethrower, bolt gun and trusty plasma cutter. Compared to the first game there’s a bit more ammo laying around but you still may find yourself in a situation where you run out of ammo for your pistol but thankfully in those scenarios you have the bolt gun as a last resort since it has infinite ammo.
When it comes to dismembering a Necromorph the game doesn’t disappoint as it’s still highly entertaining to shoot an arm off and then a leg to see it crawl on the ground. The game is even more satisfying in its gore in the earlier stages where you face off against crazed humans who can be taken out with an extremely satisfying headshot. Some of the gore and action may not be as visceral from a visual standpoint compared to the first game but it’s as entertaining as it was when you first played Dead space if not a bit more due to the pretty spot on accuracy of the Wiimote.
Even though you have a nice amount of weapons at your disposal and aiming them with the Wiimote works well there’s still a certain sense of dread or anxiety that occurs when you see four Necromorphs pop up and rush towards you. Due to the lack of movement you have there’s a greater sense of urgency to the enemy encounters since you’ll want to make every shot count in your quest to shoot off the limbs of the Necromorphs. The game almost has a more strategic side to the combat compared to the first Dead Space since you’ll have to pick out which enemies to blow the legs off from first since there may be three enemies rushing you and you’re totally helpless and can’t do a 180 to keep a nice amount of distance from them. As time goes on some of the enemy encounters lose a bit of their luster and surprise since there are sections where they keep on coming in waves and it’s very obvious that it’s a case of “end of level spawn fest” to end things on a somewhat intense note.
While there’s a certain lack of exploration to the game there’s still a nice amount of scares and scenarios. You know that a Necromorph is going to pop up along the way on your path down dark and creepy corridor #51 littered with bodies or flickering lights but there’s just a surprise factor to it. The actual set pieces themselves are quite wonderful with one being set in a ventilation system that is dark and is of course infested with Necromorphs. While these sections may have a few cheap scares they’re just as intense if not more so than in Dead Space once again due to the lack of movement the player has and the new found perspective on things. The game still has things like audio and text logs lying around which will fill you in on the story and while you can’t freely explore the environment there are a few occasions where the player is forced with choosing a route to take. Having this option may not present the player with the same freedom of exploration as they want but it’s still a nice little option to have and should give players something new to do when replaying a chapter.
But like any Wii game there’s always a certain worry amongst some that the game won’t look that good visually compared to its HD predecessor. It shouldn’t be a surprise that like everything else in Dead Space Extraction the visuals for the game don’t disappoint. While Extraction doesn’t have that extremely crisp detail that allows you to see every wrinkle or degusting fold of a Necromorph it does an excellent job of pushing out visuals that look good and manage to set the tone well despite not having fancy lighting or visual techniques. The character models for both the humans and Necromorphs pack a nice amount of detail. There are a few short comings to the game such as subpar flame effects and some of the larger creatures don’t look that scary due to not featuring a lot of detail. And you never get the feeling that the vision or potential of the game is held back by the Wii’s graphical capabilities and in some cases you’ll be quite surprised by how large some of the areas and set pieces are.
If you’re a Wii owner and like sci-fi games then you need to check out Dead Space Extraction. And if you’re a fan of the first Dead Space game you shouldn’t let the change in platform or game mechanics deter you from checking the game out. Dead Space Extraction offers a thoroughly enjoyable and scary experience that fills in a few holes in the universe of the franchise and more importantly gives players a very unique perspective on just how bad things went down on Aegis VII and the Ishimura. Extraction also has nice amount of replay value due to the chapters which can be replayed to allow players pick up weapons or upgrades they didn’t get on the first go along with trying to improve their score. This accompanied by the challenge and co-op mode makes Dead Space Extraction a game you shouldn’t grow tired of once you’ve finished the nightmarish adventure the first time.