Dead Space: Extraction Review
With LCD and Plasma TVs making traditional light-gun games virtually impossible to play, it has fallen to the Wii and its trusty sensor bar to provide a suitable home for arcade-style shooters. We’ve already had some great re-releases in the shape of House of the Dead 2&3 and Ghost Squad, plus new additions to established franchises like Resident Evil and the first House of the Dead. Even traditional FPS games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor have included the option to be played ‘on-rails’. If you’re a fan of the genre, the Wii is clearly the console of choice. With this in mind, EA have got in on the act with this prequel to last year’s classy horror title, Dead Space.
Set on a derelict deep-space mining vessel The USG Ishimura, Dead Space cast players in the role of an engineer battling for survival against an alien virus that re-animated the corpses of dead crew members. It featured a number of innovative gameplay elements and coupled with tremendously effective art direction and sound design, quickly became one of the surprise hits of the year. Dead Space: Extraction is set just prior to the events of the first game, when an alien obelisk is uncovered on the planet Aegis VII, unleashing the Necromorph virus on the mining colony. It features several characters that only made cameos in the first game via the Ishimura’s video recordings, fleshing out their individual stories.
Much has been made of the switch from third-person to first-person on-rails for this Wii outing. Although the decision has been unpopular among certain vocal groups of gamers, it doesn’t end up detracting too much from the experience and is actually helpful in some aspects. Pacing and plot exposition in particular benefit from the rigid structure, and keep the action as tight and intense as the original.
Visceral Games were acclaimed for introducing a bundle of innovative features to the survival horror in Dead Space. Some of those have had to be jettisoned for this title, like the health-bar and HUD-less display, but the impressive graphics, and use of sound are still present. It should be noted that this is one of the most impressive looking Wii games available, and a lot of care has obviously been taken to bring Extraction as close to the graphical fidelity of its predecessor as possible.
Like most games in this genre, Extraction is pretty easy to pick up and play. For the most part, it’s just a case of pointing at bad things on the screen and hitting the trigger to blow their ugly brains out. As you’d expect, the Wii remote is great for this type of game, and Visceral have tried to utilise some of its extra functions to shake things up a little. There are very few ‘waggle moments’ thankfully, but the tilt-sensor has been put to somewhat good use – tilting the remote 90 degrees initiates your weapon’s second function, a good idea but impractical in practise as it’s not easy to do so without losing your aim for a vital second or two. Aiming in general can be problematic, as the unpredictably shaky camera can be very annoying when you’re lining up a shot. The effect can be toned down, but strangely can’t be turned off completely – a major oversight seeing how much it affects the game.
Gamers who refuse to try out this game, and focus on what is isn’t rather than what it is, are really cutting off their nose to spite their face. Based on its own merits, Extraction is an exhilarating experience; one that is full of stand-out moments. It is also a great addition to the series and something that fans of the original should seriously consider purchasing. Hardcore Wii owners need to start showing games like this some support, before publishers are permanently put off from pouring money into bringing similarly well-made, mature titles to the console.
Visceral Games have clearly put a lot of effort into delivering Wii owners a unique and fulfilling title. However, will those gamers who are so vocal about the format’s lack of good third party support acknowledge that fact and put their money where their mouths are?