Dead Space...on the Frozen Planet... with Oxygen...
There's only so much that you can improve and innovate. Regardless, some franchises thread on a very thin line when they start experimenting with the basic formula of what made the initial game turn into a franchise to begin with. Take one extra step and you've gone too far. Dead Space 3 is somewhere along that line. It's the same developers, and it has only been two years since the last game but the differences between the two are pretty noticeable.
In retrospect, Dead Space 2 was a nearly flawless game in that regard. It improved everything about the first game, improved the upgrade system, gave the main character voice, added more tension, more exploration, more shock value, more locales, more enemies, etc.
DS3 shines with same solid production values, impressive visuals even though there is no DX10 or 11, decent textures, realistic lightening, great shadows, detailed environment and plenty of gore, same as before. The mouse control is a little wobbly at first though since this is yet another port, thank you very much, but you get used to it in the first hour or so. You can also crouch now (in order for when you face human enemies later in the game) and roll around which I barely used myself because I just can't imagine doing those things in a Dead Space game. Also, don't forget to disable Vertical Sync. if you want to play with more than 30 FPS. In addition, there is no way to disable ingame voice chat except for when you gather party in main menu. So if you join someone mid game you will hear their open mic constantly and vice versa.
The gamelpay is still there, however there are some changes. You can only carry two weapons now, both in Co-Op and Single Player which makes the game more realistic. However, the work around is that you can attach a secondary fire option to any weapon you like and have an equivalent of four weapons in actuality.
The story is okay. Find the girl, kill the Necromorphs, find the Master Marker, etc. Nearly half way through the game I forgot what I was doing though. Find the the shuttle, fix the shuttle, backtrack, find the parts, refuel, backtrack, venture out to another nearby half destroyed ship in a flying space toilet, backtrack, find parts of the satellite, backtrack back to the shuttle, why? Oooh, that's right, we are trying to land on the planet down below. Once you land though, the environments come down to traversing snow storm areas while exploring the buildings. I thought it was somewhat cheap for the necros to jump out of the snow in broad day light, I swear in some cases there are infinite spawns of them with almost every step you make. Also, nearly every foe you killed yields something in return, which is kind of disappointing as you do not scramble for resources and ammo as before.
I gotta say though traversing space is truly something magnificent. The first 35% of the game is taking place around the space junk yard where flying by using your thrusters and exploring while running out of oxygen is extremely entertaining. The near total lack of noise and the sound of your heart beat immensely add to the atmosphere.
Now this is a big one. I've never seen upgrade variations of this magnitude in any game, well Ghost Recon: Future Soldier kind of tried going into that direction. The amount of tediousness and chunkiness that goes into using a bench for upgrading, crafting, selling and dismantling items and weapons is astounding. When you try to upgrade the specifics of the weapon you get a window and then another window displaying all the possible variations of upgrading or substituting just about any portion of your weapon (In order to access the windows in the upper and bottom left and right portions of the screen you need to use a mouse, which you can't see anyway, because using the WASD keys just doesn't work), thank you for making experience equal across all platforms, Visceral games.
You can even attach a pistol handle to your pulse rifle (that appears much later in the game) and make it worse. Then you will scavenge for the 5-6 of various resources, by yourself and by using your scavenge bot at which point you may feel that you have enough resources for the next suit or weapon upgrade. Incidentally, you may waste one of your most precious resources on buying upgrade slots for one of your weapons that may only upgrade your fire rate ability or reload time by a tiny tiny fraction instead of using same resources on upgrading your suit which is much easier done and which actually gives you relevant bonuses. When you finally decide to build a new weapon instead of upgrading the ones already available to you by using the precious resources, you will most likely build a useless toy that does barely any damage since there are zero indicators as to the weapon stats until you load them into your two available slots. Then you might scrap the whole thing and retrieve the lesser amount of resources in return. All in all, only after playing the game for about 4 hours I started to slowly get a hand of the whole crafting business. And yes, I skipped the tutorial, I doubt it would help much anyway unless you had a substantial amount of practice.
OR, you could just spend $ 5 for a better scavenge bot or a better weapon that isn't really that much better (I know, I checked) or buy a $15 survival pack....yeah. Seriously, I can't believe they okayed this whole crafting endeavor given how user unfriendly it is. It's like they made it tedious on purpose to increase the chance of you saying "F*ck it* and buy yourself an allegedly decent weapon with $ 5 Earth dollars.
I also do not remember doing this much back tracking. Granted, the first game had plenty of back tracking because 99% of the game was happening on one ship. DS 2 barely forced you to retrace your steps. In DS3 you have to backtrack a lot. In many instances you will have to go in one area, explore it, activate or fix something and then retrace your steps and face same enemies on the same path.
In addition, the ammo is, unfortunately, plentiful and applies to all guns. No more trying to figure out if you want to carry 6 grenades, 4 mines or a dual healthpack.
As far as the enemies go, well, there a couple of new ones, notably the mine workers, the creepy skeletors, the tall necros with long limbs and a few others. Gone is the tension when you expect the Necromorphs the least. Now it is nearly predictable to know when the next wave of them will appear. Granted, there is some good pacing there and there as well as the build up of tension which incidentally is accompanied by a great deal of elevators that serve as loading screens anyway. In general, I can understand that co-op may require more enemies to face but at the same time the gravity of their not so dreadful presence is diminished because there are more of them attacking now and there is more ammunition available to you to take them all down. You just don't feel too guilty about dying when you get overrun by 8 necros instead of 4 like in the past. I will always bring up this argument: It's more fun to barely manage killing zombies in Dead Island rather than easily mow down hundreds of them in the matter of minutes in Left4Dead.
The additional exploration missions aren't many but there are there. One even lasted a good half-hour.
Co-Op. One could tell it was implemented in the game from the scratch and it is done extremely well. I don't have a problem with it given the fact that I felt no dread fighting the Necromorphs by myself unlike in the first two games.
Finally, this is a decent shooter, it just takes some steps away from the horror shooter it was just recently. Some sequences are pretty amazingly done. Some, however, are pretty cheap like zipping through the space debris and getting killed every 5-10 seconds for little known reasons other than you probably hit something. Some boss battles are extremely tedious especially when you have to deal with an infinite spawn of Necros at the same time. The game is pretty long though, we've played for 8 hours straight and only got to the 9th chapter. In addition, the fact that this game is on Origin only and is capped at full price sucks big time. I can't earn any Steam Achievements and I can't take any screenshots which I desperately wanted to quite often. Also, if you play with someone online and then try to add them to your friends list you won't be able to unless you've written down their nickname. In Steam, you can just bring up the Recent Players list and add your potential friend from there. I also strongly advise using a very simple exploit in Chapter 8 (youtube it) to generate an infinite amount of resources so that you never have to actually buy guns from EA. I wouldn't be surprised if EA investigated a developer team member who might have messed up on that bug and cost EA a few hundred thousand bucks or so in the process.
Oh, and Origin must die.