Posted on Blogcritics.org
In 2008 Electronic Arts put out a terrifying survival horror-action video game titled Dead Space that was met with approval by the critics and gamers alike. Tense, scary, and remarkably set in outer space, the game covered Isaac Clarke’s journey through a mining ship as creatures came out of everywhere trying to eat him. As the story enfolds thanks to holographic blips and found information, the player had to use strategic fighting with the very creative weapons scattered about the station. Now when EA announced that they were putting out another Dead Space game, everyone was delighted … but then the details came out. A prequel game set on a Wii console? There’s no way that bloody, vicious high-def game on PS3, 360, and PC could be replicated on the most casual gaming system, right? Well any doubters were wonderfully wrong, as Dead Space: Extraction delivers!
The game takes place before the original story begins, and approximately around the same time as the events in the animated film Dead Space: Downfall. Where in the original game the human miners were already turned into elaborate alien beings, this is when things first began to break down. You’re part of a group of space colonists who are fighting the alien Necromorphs as they mysteriously start taking people over and turning them violent. It sets off after a mysterious marker is found in the very beginning, and the workers all try to find sanctuary and simply get out … alive. If you’ve played Dead Space, you know where this story is going, but it’s still fascinating to watch.
One interesting factor is that you switch protagonists as things become more dire. Anyone around you could die at any given time, including the person you are currently playing. This makes everything more tense and adds danger to every door you open, because this could be the room where your soldier or his team dies. The aliens become increasingly scary and dangerous, having their own weaknesses and strengths, and you often have to think on your feet. The excellent use of the Wiimote for action lets you shoot guns, use telekinesis, shake glow sticks to see in dark places, reload, switch weapons, and the excellent Stasis ability that freezes your enemies in time so you can get a leg up on the fight. There are several guns you can switch between and upgrade as the game goes on, and you can learn to use boxes or explosive barrels for a strategic advantage in a dangerous place. The action is consistent and often startling, sudden attacks and random puzzle moments causing your pulse to jump because any slower and those damned Necromorphs will be on you! Ahhh!
For the Wii, the graphics are excellent and work incredibly well with the style put forth in the first game. It is dark and polished and creepy, futuristic yet brutal all at once, and the designer for Dead Space: Extraction embraced the particular style. It is not quite as scary as the first game, as sometimes on-rails game have trouble since you know the story is moving at a predetermined pace. There were plenty of times when I got swarmed and could simply keep them at bay swinging a glowing axe until I reloaded. It does seem slightly simplified in case casual gamers wanted to give it a try, but there are difficulty levels to sort through if you want more of a challenge. Even experienced gamers might have trouble aiming the Wiimote and taking out the limbs of aliens rushing at you, especially if you turn the difficulty up to the highest. The voice acting is good and the characters have developed personalities and motives … although mostly that’s just ‘please please please let me live.’ Good luck to them.
After the run-through of the game’s story, you have 10 challenge modes on top of it. There’s also co-op for two players, although that can get a little confusing since you both are hovering over the screen with guns and can criss-cross the shots. Good communication will solve any muddled gameplay with a friend, however. Generally, Dead Space: Extraction was a welcome surprise, an on-rails light action game that is genuinely scary and entertaining, plus it respects and acknowledges ties to its predecessor. They pushed the powers of the Wii so that it looks and feels better than ever, so anyone who says the Wii can’t do an M-rated shooter should bite their tongue. While it may not visually be the same as the 360 or PS3, and even if it wasn’t as spine-crawlingly scary as the original, it was an exceptional addition to the Wii. It’s proof that the system is capable of more than just casual gaming, and that’s what the industry needs to do: push the envelope and believe it will be worth it.
Dead Space: Extraction was a delight to play, although I’ll now be having nightmares for the next few weeks of blowing off spidery limbs and ignoring creepy whispering voices in the darkness. If you were a fan of Dead Space, this is a must-buy. If you didn’t give the first one a try, there’s no harm in starting the series now since this is technically the beginning.
Dead Space: Extraction is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for violence and gore. This game can only be found on the Nintendo Wii.