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Dead Space 3: Awakened DLC – The Verdict

Dead Space 3: Awakened DLC – The Verdict

This review contains spoilers for anyone who hasn’t yet completed the main storyline of Dead Space 3. If that’s you, turn away now.

“Even more gruesome and terrifying than ever before” reads the quote from Steve Papoutsis, boss of developer Visceral Games and in many ways he’s right. The fact that Visceral and EA have the nerve to charge near £7 for DLC that lasts around the same amount of time as one of the optional side missions in the main game certainly is horrifying for the average consumer. This coming from a game that’s already sprung controversy due to its inclusion of microtransactions, I would certainly have expected them to try and save face with this content.

The length is not the only concerning factor in the shoddiness of the newly released Awakened DLC. The story seems to have been passed off as an afterthought with little consideration of just how to join the pieces of the puzzle together. Awakened takes place just minutes after the conclusion of the main story. Isaac and Carver have defeated the giant necro-moon and against all the odds have lived to tell the tale. Just how they managed to traverse hundreds of miles of space to touch ground again on Tau Volantis without any mode of transport is never really explained. Carver and Isaac both audibly shrug it off as the work of alien technology and after a brief slapping in the head it’s time to hit the road again as if nothing ever happened. Even Isaac’s quest journal reads “We fell to our deaths, I’m sure of it”.

From here onwards what there is of a plot is highly predictable to anyone with at least a little knowledge of sci-fi films. The lines between sanity and delusion are seemingly stretched and Isaac is often left asking himself if what he just saw was real. To the player however, it’s abhorrently obvious what is going on and what effects these will have in the coming scenes. Story ideas that have been apparent in every other Dead Space game are used again here, just in a rather more rushed fashion. What’s even worse it that during some visions loot drops from non-existent enemies still show up in the real world when you decide to snap out of it.

Dead Space 3 Awakened DLC Review The Verdict Isaac Clarke John Carver Necromorph Unitology

On top of the overused plot ideas are a few of the problems that were around in the main story. Loot drops are still far too plentiful on normal difficulties and co-op still spoils any kind of chilling atmosphere that once existed. For a DLC pack that was touted as being scarier, these factors really didn’t help.

If I had to fight to find any redeeming factors for Awakened it would be that just like the main game, it feels very polished as far as the gameplay is concerned. The controls are still easy to use and get to grips with, even after a month of playing other games I had no problems jumping back into it. The voice acting is also well performed yet again, with Carver as butch as he always is, providing a strong character and some funny lines of dialogue from time to time.

Awakened may not be the scare-fest that fans of the previous games may have hoped for but it’s certainly a tad scarier than the main game which is some sort of bonus, right? At the very least you get to hear that awesome heavy guitar again when the credits roll.

Verdict – Off Target

Platforms Available – PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Platform Reviewed – Xbox 360

Review based on a purchased copy.

Please check this post for more on our scoring policy.

Dead Space 3 – The Verdict

Dead Space 3 – The Verdict

Someone once said that in space no one can hear you scream. It is possible however, to hear the shriek of your mum as she discovers just how much you’ve spent on microtransactions. At the very least your scrapbot will have its own personality now, which is more than most people can claim.

I feel strange for saying this about a game known for its survival horror background but Dead Space 3 is a lot of fun, especially during the intense and largely scripted moments that almost act as boss battles. But is fun really what I wanted and expected from the third installment in the series? Well no, not really. Dead Space 3‘s opening scenes cut a distinctly different atmosphere than that of its predecessors. Instead of dark, blood covered corridors and cramped conditions you traverse through the steam punk style streets of Earth, decapitating Unitologists and ducking for cover behind objects in the street. The last thing we need is another cover based, third person shooter and followers of the series might well be getting worried at this early stage in the game.

So has Dead Space 3 become an action game? Not entirely. Yes, there are action elements in the game that weren’t there previously. Things like the cover system, customisable weapons and wide open spaces for beasts of a gigantic nature all influence the direction this adventure in the series has taken. But at its heart Dead Space 3 is still the same survival horror game, just with a little polish added to keep things from getting stale and repetitive. The amount of production that has been poured into the fine details of the game has gone a long way to making sure that this is the case. The eerie lighting effects, deafening audio and brilliant voice acting all add to the sense of tension and dread that die-hard fans of the series will be craving.

Thankfully (for some) Isaac’s Earthly adventures are fairly short-lived, and It’s not long before he finds himself whisked away into a dark corner of the universe in search of marker technology. It’s at this stage that you progress into the familiar gameplay of creeping around corners and closely watching every vent you pass for explosive necromorph appearances. It’s also at this stage that I began to notice the effect the difficulty setting I chose was having on my experience.

After all its new additions, Dead Space 3 is still as brilliantly scary as ever.
After all its new additions, Dead Space 3 is still as brilliantly scary as ever.

Having not played a Dead Space game before, I opted to go with normal difficulty hoping that it would provide somewhat of a challenge but nothing too strenuous. While the enemies of normal difficulty still provide a challenge for a relative beginner, the fact that every single one drops a health pack, ammo or an item that can be sold takes away from the survival portion of the game. While getting used to the tactics of how to properly deal with each enemy can take a bit of time, being stocked up on twenty health packs means survival is not a problem in the slightest. This in turn seems to make the dark corridors a little less ominous and the waves of enemies a little less formidable. For anyone who has experience with shooters or past Dead Space games, I recommend a harder difficulty if you want to keep a true sense of fear and foreboding in your playthrough.

Aside from the obvious graphical update and the addition of more action styled elements in the gameplay, Dead Space 3 has undergone a number of major changes. Most notable are the changes to the weapons and inventory systems and enemy drops, which have become more complex than previously. Where before enemies used to drop credits with which you could buy upgrades and weapons, they now drop a variety of materials and everything you need can be crafted at a workbench. The sheer number of weapons craftable from these materials seems almost endless. From double grenade launchers, to plasma pistols with acid spewing attachments, to a shotgun and assault rifle combo. Providing you scavenge for the correct materials, the choice is yours to make and trying out different mixtures of weapons and picking your favourite is half the fun of the early stages of the game.

Another major addition in Dead Space 3 is the ability to play the campaign with a friend. Co-op may seem like another strange addition for a game meant to send a chill down your spine, but generally it has been handled quite well. If you want, you can drop in on your friends game, or vice versa and begin the exclusive co-op missions, taking the place of Carver as you discover more about his dark past. These missions along with the optional side missions in the single player, uncover some of the more interesting fragments of the back story, like how others in the areas you travel met their demise at the hands of necromorphs and worse.

With little story behind the new characters, it's hard to tell if they're really friend or foe.
With little story behind the new characters, it’s hard to tell if they’re really friend or foe.

They also uncover stashes of materials, upgrade circuits and weapon blueprints that will make a huge difference in the higher difficulties. The only disappointment is, that without a co-op partner you are unable to explore the story of John Carver and his character becomes very bit-part in the main plot alone. He shows face rarely and while his comments and actions feel like they should have meaning and understanding behind them, instead they often end up making little sense.

Finishing off any story arc, let alone that of a trilogy of games with a strong following, is a hard task. I think it’s fair to say that however you do it there will always be someone who is unhappy in certain respects and for me there was one main problem. The ending of Dead Space 3 seemed somewhat underwhelming, the big reveal in the story didn’t seem all that revelational and left me feeling a little flat. Gameplay wise it was great and ended up being a little Final Fantasy end boss, which actually worked really well but might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

In conclusion, while Dead Space 3 may have introduced some action gameplay mechanics such as the open areas of Tau Volantis, or the duck and cover system, at its core it’s still as scary and gruesome as it has always been. The controversial microtransactions and DLC are unneeded and not pushed in your face, and while the storyline is not best handled it is not by any means terrible and is still a good addition to the series.

Verdict – Headshot

Platforms Available – PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Platform Reviewed – Xbox 360

Review based on a copy supplied by EA.

Please check this post for more on our scoring policy.