When I first heard the next game in the blood and gore filled Dead Space series would be a Wii exclusive, I thought the developers from Visceral Games had lost their mind. Why would you take a mature game, which launched on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, and then move away from its fan base to develop the prequel on a system which caters to soccer moms and kids?
Well have no fear, because Dead Space: Extraction is not your typical Wii title. Visceral Games made sure that nothing was lost in the translation, keeping the game true to its survival horror series roots. If you’ve been looking for a more mature title to give you a reason to dust off your Wii, or if you are a fan of the Dead Space series, you should read on to find out more about this gory good time.
Extraction starts off three weeks before the events of the original Dead Space on the remote mining colony of Aegis VII. The game begins as the mysterious alien artifact from the first game, “the marker”, is being transported up to the USG Ishimura for study. Soon after this happens, all hell breaks loose and the colonists suddenly go crazy. Those who aren’t killed by others are slaughtered by the alien infections known as Necromorphs.
In the game, you control a small band of individuals attempting to escape the colony and make it to the Ishimura for protection. Unfortunately, upon arriving at the ship, the group discovers the same nightmare awaits them there. Their only hope is to find any remaining survivors and locate a shuttle to escape to safety.
Each of the ten levels in Dead Space: Extraction places you in control of a different group member, but in a very limited capacity. That’s because the entire game is an on-rails first person shooter. Except for a few situations, you have no control over where you look or move. All you can do is point and shoot anywhere on the screen.
Typically, on-rails shooters get bad reputations for being simplistic and childish. However, Dead Space: Extraction uses the genre to its fullest to tell a story and create an experience that would probably be impossible any other way. One way it does this is through the dynamic control of the first person camera.
A benefit of this technique is it amplifies the mood of the scene. When you are scared, the camera is constantly jerking around to see if there are any enemies or danger nearby. If you are calm, the camera will pan around more slowly and comfortably. Your controlled perspective always manages to keep your attention on what’s important to the story, which really helps considering there’s a lot of story to tell.
Extraction gives you plenty of ways to interact with what’s on screen, but the main and most obvious one is by shooting items and enemies. If you’ve played the original Dead Space, you’ll feel right at home, thanks to the fact all the original weapons return, plus some new ones. You still have old favorites like the Plasma Cutter and Line Gun, but a welcome new arrival is the Rivet Gun. Since ammo is not easy to come by for most weapons, you’ll find yourself using the weaker Rivet Gun a lot because of its unlimited ammo supply.
Each weapon in the game is also upgradeable, allowing you to carry more ammunition to dish out more firepower. You’ll find weapon upgrades as you move through the levels, so be on the lookout because you won’t want to miss them.
The game also lets you interact with enemies and items using the Kinesis and Stasis modules. Series veterans will be very familiar with both of these abilities. Kinesis allows you to manipulate gravity to pick up, move, and throw objects. Stasis lets you freeze objects and enemies in time. You’ll use both to pick up ammo, health, and weapon upgrades and to assist in combat.
Performing all the actions in the game requires both the Wiimote and the nunchuck. The wiimote is used to shoot and grab items. The nunchuck changes weapons and fires the stasis and kinesis modules. Some motion control elements are thrown in as well, like shaking the wiimote to push attacking enemies off of you or turning it 45 degrees on its side for alt weapons fire. The most interesting use of the hardware is holding the wiimote speaker to your ear to play back audio logs found throughout the levels. For the most part, the game manages to use the Wii controls without feeling to gimmicky or clunky.
Killing enemies in Dead Space: Extraction follows the same line of logic as the previous game. Combat revolves around chopping off limbs to immobilize and incapacitate your prey. Using the stasis module to freeze enemies in time makes this a lot easier, but you have a limited number of stasis charges, so use them wisely.
Since you also have limited ammo, I recommend using more powerful weapons to immobilize your enemies, and then use the Rivet Gun to finish them off. You retain the same amount of ammunition as you move from level to level, so try to conserve as much as possible.
Besides killing crazy colonists or flesh eating necromorphs, you’ll take on a couple bosses as well. Unfortunately, all of the boss encounters are long, tedious, and arduous affairs. While there is typically some trick to killing them, it isn’t always obvious, and they always requires a ton of ammunition to take down. It can be extremely frustrating and is one of the only elements of the game that needs tweaking.
One thing Dead Space: Extraction does perfectly is returning you to many of the locations from the original game. Not only do you get to see many of the environments in their original states, but you also get to see how and why certain events occurred. For example, in the original game when you reach the medical ward, you discover someone had created a barricade to fend off incoming enemies. In Extraction you actually get to create that barricade. Situations like this occur throughout the entire game and are all great fan service moments that help tie the two titles together.
Another thing that the game does extremely well is it pushes the graphical limitations of the Wii to its max. There are very few games on the system that look as good as Extraction. The developers were able to squeeze every last ounce of power out of the Wii to deliver an experience that really immerses you in the environment. The textures are highly detailed, the lighting sets the mood perfectly, and the blood and gore effects are all frighteningly life like.
Speaking of blood and gore, Dead Space: Extraction holds nothing back in the mature game department. Not only does the game throw death and dismemberment at you in truck loads, it also really tries to mess with your mind. While the main characters might be lucky to be alive, they are not immune from the mind altering effects of the marker. You’ll constantly see things that aren’t really there and hear voices that no one else can. The effect this has on a player is profound and can make you wonder if anything you are experiencing in the game is real or not. It also has the affect of scaring the hell out of you.
The music and sound effects in the game are top notch and help set the mood. Many of the sounds return from the first game, so you’ll feel right at home here. The music also has the effect of perfectly setting the mood of the scene. If you are being chased or attacked by monsters, the music will ramp up and be very dramatic and intense. If the scene is calm, the music will be almost non existent, letting you hear every small detail of the environment. It’s eerie how well sound is used in this game.
As you complete levels in the 6-8 hour story mode, you’ll unlock levels for the Challenge Mode. This mode places you in specific sections of the game and throws waves of enemies at you. You are then scored based on how long you survive and how many enemies you kill.
One problem with the game is once you complete it, you don’t really have any reason to go back through because the experience is always exactly the same. This is one of the drawbacks of on-rail shooters. While there are four difficulty levels to choose from, the only real difference is how much damage enemies take before they die, and how much their attacks hurt you. This isn’t really motivation to play through the game again.
It’s important to note that both the story mode and the challenge mode can be played with two players. At any point, a second person can press the + button on their wiimote and immediately enter the game. Both players share the same health meter, but have their own separate weapon load outs and ammunition. The game doesn’t get any harder with two people, so the extra fire power really comes in handy.
As you complete Extraction, you also unlock issues of the Dead Space animated comic series, which was originally released on the web when the original game came out. These issues take place parallel to the game and give you a little bit more background story.
Overall, Dead Space: Extraction is a great game that nails the feel of the series and allows you to experience it in a whole new way. Fans of the first title will feel right at home and will really appreciate a lot of the fan service. Newcomers won’t get as much out of the experience, but it should hopefully convince them to give the original Dead Space a try. The point is, with a interesting mature story, incredible graphics, and bone chilling sound effects, no one will be disappointed after trying this game.
Visceral Games knows how to deliver when it comes to atmosphere, even on the less powerful Wii. Extraction does a perfect job capturing the essence of what made the first Dead Space game so great, yet creates a new experience that stands all on its own.
|How does our scoring system work?|
While the on-rails style is very simplistic at heart, Extraction brings it up a couple notches with an impressive number of weapons and some inventive uses of the Wii controls.
Creepy sound effects, an excellent soundtrack, and a keen knowledge of when "less is more" keeps your heart pumping throughout the entire game.
Once you complete the game, there's really no reason to go back and play through it again, because the experience is exactly the same each time. The challenge mode could be fun if you try to compete for the highest scores against your friends.
Extraction is one of the finest on-rails shooters you will ever experience on any platform. If you are looking for a more mature Wii title, or if you are a fan of the Dead Space series, this is a game that should be in your library.