The verdict has been in for a while now - the original 'Dead Space' is a modern masterpiece, a nearly ideal fusion of science fiction and scare-you-out-of-your-seat horror. Its flaws are few and can be easily dismissed in light of how well it plays and the effect it has on those who dare.
So why mess with a formula that works so well? 'Dead Space: Extraction' is the answer to that question. It's a game that succeeds well on its own merits and even manages to improve on some things from the original.
Where 'Dead Space' was a survival horror game that put the player in full control of a single character, able to stop and start at will and explore fully, 'Extraction' is a "rail shooter," meaning that the player does not fully control character movement, and it is seen from the first person. The player is in charge of picking up powerups, occasionally selecting from a choice of routes, and shooting whatever beasties pop up in our path.
And there's a lot to shoot at. Many of the same creatures from the original 'Dead Space' make their appearance here as well, rendered in lovingly gory detail. The Wii's graphical limitations were surely pushed to their limit here, but it rises to the challenge as grotesque monsters and mutants attack the players in seemingly never-ending succession. Sounds, too, are reproduced faithfully, and the same growls, shrieks, and gurgles you remember from the original are plentiful in 'Extraction.'
The story of 'Extraction' takes place prior to the events of 'Dead Space,' beginning with the discovery of an ancient artifact ("The Marker") and carrying through to the infection of the crew of the USG Ishimura and the chaos that follows. In some ways it's a bigger story than the one in 'Dead Space,' told from the perspective of several different characters and spanning a lot more plot and intrigue than the original. The multiple character viewpoints, and the transitions between them, are handled very well, and each character has their own important piece of the puzzle. 'Extraction' also does an excellent job explaining some of the more frustrating aspects of Isaac's many tasks in 'Dead Space,' and unlike Isaac's dearth of personality from the original game, 'Extraction' features full-bodied and well-drawn characters, each with their own personalities, their own agendas and their own secrets.
"But Rich!" I hear you saying. "Is it SCARY?!"
Scary? Disturbing? Upsetting? Nausea-inducing? Oh yes - it's all of this and more.
What impressed me most about 'Extraction' is that it not only replicated the feel of the original, it enhanced and broadened the effect. Rather than a limitation, the "on-rails" aspect turns the game into a mad rush to escape a rapidly deteriorating situation. In 'Dead Space' you were mostly alone on the huge Ishimura from the very beginning and it was the sense of isolation that was frightening, but you can take all the time you need to explore it and deal with it. In 'Extraction' you begin on a fully-populated space station. When things go bad, they go bad fast. The scenes of sheer madness as the infection takes hold are memorable and fast-paced, filled with disturbing images and sounds as the games pushes you inexorably forward.
After the first five or ten minutes (which is sort of a training mode with a nasty twist), you're immediately on the GO-GO-GO setting, with precious few chances to stop and catch your breath until you meet your end, one way or another. You'll find weapons along the way, familiar friends like the trusty plasma cutter and some new toys too, and you have to be quick to keep them powered and loaded. Missed a powerup or ammo pack? No time to go back and get it. Wanted to check out that hallway? Too bad, we're moving on. Unlike some rail shooters, I found this aspect of 'Extraction' added to the intensity of the game as a whole, and propelled the story forward steadily.
Once you get deeper into the game, the ship is dark and quiet and the sense of menace hangs all around. Things go from bad to worse as the infection spreads. An unforgettable scene near the end forces you to do something you REALLY don't want to do. And thanks to the Wii controls, you get the experience viscerally as well as visually.
The controls are simple and intuitive, and after the first few minutes shouldn't cause any problems. Shooting is as easy as pointing at the screen and pulling the "trigger," while using telekinesis is also a simple button press. Reloading can be done quickly if you learn the trick, and shaking the nunchuk in the right area will even charge up a glow stick to beat back the darkness for a while.
Final analysis: 'Dead Space: Extraction' matches the look and feel of the first game almost perfectly, fills in many aspects of the story we were missing from the original game, and is a grisly, gory, scarily satisfying experience overall. You don't have to have played the original to play this, but at least knowing the story of the original will help you understand what's happening. Those familiar with the Dead Space story already should find this a worthy, if different, experience, and those new to the horrifying alien mutations will likely be blown away.
Why mess with what worked before? Because they can, and they can do it well.
This is a great game - probably the best rail shooter for the Wii so far, a real testament to the capability of the system, and a fitting way to expand on the story of 'Dead Space.'
Dead Space Extraction is the prequel to last years hit game Dead Space for the 360 and PS3. It was developed by Visceral Games and published by EA. It was released Sept 29th 2009. Dead Space extraction is a "guided on-rails FPS"; since it is a prequel it takes place before the events of Dead Space but run parallel to the events of Dead Space downfall. Unlike most other on-rails shooters in Dead Space Extraction you play as different characters, this way you can see the story … more