Extraction maintains the horrific atmosphere of the original, making it enjoyable in an entirely different way.
Dead Space Extraction finally answers a lot of questions in the events that happened before Isaac Clarke and the USG Kellion's arrival in the Ishimura. Set 3 weeks before the events of its predecessor, you will get to witness the downfall of the Aegis VII colony and the USG Ishimura through the eyes of new and multiple characters. Audio/text logs in Extraction provide some updates on the current situation about the colony infestation as you gather more of them throughout the game, though I found some of the long and drawn out (like literally nothing happening but just the person moving from place to place) scenes very tedious. More particularly, Extraction's story mode is extremely short and over way too quickly. Fortunately just like the original Dead Space, Extraction keeps you pretty much engaged in the storyline and doesn't take away from the experience completely. Also, Extraction's cliffhanger ending will once again raise many questions because of how it turned out, and how it will supposedly tie in with Dead Space 2, which is currently in development.
Bonus content is available for you unlock that contains all six issues of the Dead Space comics, which run parallel to the events of Extraction. These incidents were only kept in logs left by the less-fortunate Ishimura crew but you will get to know what happened to some of the characters before the events of the original, as well as observe how the infestation outbreak manifests firsthand. Extraction's characters are the most important in setting the tone for the game, and are quite a realistic bunch. It's hard not to be concerned about them, and you'll also find yourself relating to a character or two.
Sharp and easy-to-handle controls make Extraction an enjoyable rail / quasi- light gun arcade shooter in general; and thankfully reloading doesn't feel so awkward compared to doing so in Call of Duty Modern Warfare Reflex. If you've also played House of the Dead Overkill, Dead Space Extraction will feel quite similar. Weapons and health status can be accessed with just a touch of a button, and the main menu contains some helpful hints in getting used to the Wii zapper/remote's controls. As responsive and functional Extraction's controls already are, you can still modify gameplay options to your liking. Acquiring new weapons (as well as returning favorites) is a must-have, and you'll be able to upgrade these weapons for heavier damage and more ammunition. There are no stores to be found for upgrades and such in this game, but you'll be able to pick which 4 weapons you can use during each stage.
There are lots of items (ammunition, health packs, etc.) scattered throughout both Aegis VII and Ishimura; every camera angle gives you many opportunities to grab as many extra loot as you can, though you're only given just seconds to grab everything you see on screen. There will be numerous occasions where you're opening 5 lockers at a time, but only manage to successfully obtain half of the loot instead of all. This tends to happen on many occasions, and you would be compelled to repeat the chapters at least twice or more until you've gathered anything else you might've missed before. It is a bit irritating flaw to encounter, but it's worth it to get all the important items lying around just waiting to be picked up.
I also found the various camera angles rather irksome and disorienting. There were multiple times where I was occupied dismembering a handful of Necromorphs' limbs on one side, and then suddenly the camera bobs and switches to another angle. These can be a frustrating experience to go through, especially if you're trying to reach 100% accuracy in a certain chapter. Situations like this often make Dead Space Extraction somewhat unforgiving. It takes some getting used to and eventually you'll get it, but playing it for the first time can be fairly exasperating.
Thankfully, the strategic dismemberment gameplay mechanic is still intact in Extraction, and the variety of weapons you can choose from are remarkable and feel just right. Stasis and Kinesis abilities remain as useful tools as in the first Dead Space when keeping the ever-persistent Necromorphs at bay. Extraction has some light puzzle elements, though these only require you to connect the power from one node to the next. I found that aspect of the game to be somewhat lacking, but solving these lackluster puzzles while fighting the Necromorphs at the same time proved quite an entertaining change of pace. Though you would find many of the game's gameplay mechanics rather dull and frustrating, Extraction still manages to keep you immersed in the story and the environment, much like its predecessor did.
Overall, Dead Space Extraction isn't a very hard game, so you'll breeze through it in about 5 hours or so on the regular difficulty setting. Afterwards you can try your skills out in the harder modes and see how you fare. I must say the boss fights are amazingly stellar. Though few in numbers, these massive baddies are definitely epic in a grand scale, and bring much needed challenge and intensity to the table; obstacles that are definitely worth tackling. The hordes of Necromorphs are already forceful, but these boss battles will definitely fill your heart with much needed panic and excitement.
If you were disappointed with the game's awfully brief story mode, you can add in an extra hour or two with some entertaining dismemberment in Challenge Mode. You're basically just replaying the levels of the story, while fending off ten waves of Necromorphs in each stage. The only way to finish each level is--well, kill all the Necromorphs in the area. When you finish a particular stage you're given a total score based on how your performance went. Accuracy, damage taken, perfect reload count, and how you dismembered your foes factors in acquiring more points. In the end you're just aiming for the top spot in each level's leaderboard; afterwards Extraction doesn't really offer much from that point. Co-op is what you would expect; an extra reticule on screen to help player 1 out. Though an extra hand in combat is indeed helpful in overwhelming situations, you're pretty much in a guided experience all the way through.
Dead Space Extraction's graphics are rough on spots, but slightly better from some of the more mature Wii games I've seen. The environment is well-detailed, and retains that dark, frightening atmosphere that was already previously established the first Dead Space last year. Character models look actually pretty good and move quite fluidly, though their lip movements seem awkward at times. Various animations look a bit stiff sometimes but are altogether satisfactory. However, I found the frame rate inconsistent and uneven on many occasions throughout the game. A sporadic lag or glitch can occur in transitions from one scene to the next which can feel somewhat cumbersome. These are visual flaws that are very noticeable, but doesn't take away from the gameplay experience altogether. The new and old Necromorph designs may not be as sharp and high-res like its Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC brethren, but still manage to preserve their menacing and disgusting tone. Extraction is also not as frightening as the first one, but a few scare jumps here and there can still potentially shock the living daylights out of you.
Voice acting has a lot of much needed emotion, and the actors portrayed their characters impressively. Overall the dialogue and voice acting are well-executed and very solid. The roars and shrieks of the Necromorphs never cease to amaze and haunt me, and the grunts of the playable characters are pragmatic at best. Music provides the scary tone for the game, and you'll find your heart beating fast sometimes while a frightening tune plays. And if you've played the first Dead Space the gun/laser shots or even the sound of tearing flesh will all feel very familiar.
In the end, Extraction feels more like a spin-off title than a major Dead Space installment, but that doesn't mean that's a dreadful thing entirely. Extraction manages to retain the frightening atmosphere we've come to know and love, and the creepy Necromorphs that inhabit every nook and cranny of the Ishimura and Aegis VII. The story may be extremely brief, but it finally fills in much needed gaps to connect it with Dead Space 1's narrative. Though not as scary and enjoyable as the original, Visceral Games manages to give Dead Space fans a similar experience that still honors the elements of the original in almost an entirely different and interesting way.