Review: Dead Space Extraction HD (PS3)

Title: Dead Space Extraction HD
Format: PlayStation Network Download
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Visceral Games
Original MSRP: $14.99 PSN Download or free with retail copy of Dead Space 2
Extras: PlayStation Move Compatible

Preceding the catastrophic events that occurred on the USG Ishimura, Dead Space Extraction allows the player to witness the birth of the original Black Marker.  As an origins tale it packs in quite a story and a decent adventure within a very short time line.  There is an admirable amount of environmental variety as well as character playability.  From start to finish you are dropped into the body of roughly 4-5 different characters – man, woman, scientist and soldier.  If you’re familiar with the Dead Space cannon you know that survival, regardless of character, is most assuredly difficult at best.  But who meets their grisly end and how is part of the overall fun that I had with Dead Space Extraction.

Focusing primarily as a light-gun rail-shooter, Dead Space Extraction does a fine job of providing highly-paced gameplay while taking nearly all control away from the character.  I say nearly all because there are numerous occasions during the game that players have the ability to choose a path or assume limited, and timed, control of your character’s movement.

Playing this High Definition version of Dead Space Extraction isn’t my first time experiencing the Necromorph horror as a rail shooter.  I am a Wii owner (and still proud of it) and, if you haven’t figured it out by now, a huge fan of the Dead Space franchise (see my reviews of Dead Space Ignition, Dead Space 2 and Impressions article of Dead Space Martyr).  Because of this I most assuredly played through Extraction when it was a Wii-exclusive title.  The biggest change this time around was represented in a far superior Move controller and the fact that I played through the entire campaign in co-op mode.

If you have a couch partner that is willing to play through this 6-8 hour campaign I highly recommend it.  Not only will it be significantly easier than managing the game by yourself but it is also infinitely more fun.  Extraction does a nice job of adding variety between players – most notably during the numerous “hacking” mini-games.  Quite often the game prompts players to hack into a computer or electrical panel to open an otherwise locked door or start up a much needed piece of machinery.  Typically these hacking sequences are presented in 3-4 parts that rotate between the 2 players.  Further into the game the tension of these hacks ramps up considerably.  During these more intense situations hacking is added to the already difficult combat defense against wave after wave of Necromorph.

The Move controller resulted in better than average response time.  Although not entirely 1:1 it was still better than what I recall the Nintendo Wii-mote’s response being.  The biggest improvement between the two – as is the case with the overall design – the Move controller simply felt better in the palm of my hand and allowed for longer periods of gameplay.  As the game loads up it displays the standard Move safety precautions – provide enough space and don’t smack your partner in the head – as well as an indication that the PS3 Dual Shock controller could be used in addition to the Move controller.  I regard this added controller option to be a lost feature and completely unnecessary.  From start to finish I was able to count on one hand how many opportunities I was prompted to use the DualShock – primarily during various quick-time events.  By the mid point of the game’s campaign I totally abandoned the Dual Shock.

Although it was our intention to add some in-game video to display the visual accomplishments of Dead Space Extraction, things have gotten a bit crazy here at PS Nation as we prepare for this year’s GDC.  We still hope to upload some video in the near future but, until then, what I can tell you is that compared to the Wii version I was incredibly impressed with how sharp everything looked and how smooth the gameplay was.  The first moments of Extractions I actually thought that I had mistakenly started playing Dead Space 2 (my copy of Extraction came with DS2).  The colors were vibrant, the light and shadows were ominous and the details were crisp.  In other words, I wasn’t expecting such a polished visual transformation from the original Wii title – but it was most welcome.

It really wasn’t until shots of the various character’s faces that I began to realize that this title was not built from the ground up solely for the PlayStation 3.  Although far from bad, the facial animations were more cartoon-like than I had remembered and seemed a bit out of place compared to the much better detail of the surrounding environments.  Still, compared to some of the more recent games I’ve played (Dark Void comes to mind) the characters in Dead Space Extraction were light years ahead of that disaster.

Where Dead Space 2 excelled with the audio Dead Space Extraction, even as a remastered copy, comes nowhere close to the same level of audio expertise.  Those disturbing sounds that typically resulted in a firmer grip on your PS3 DualShock were almost non-existent throughout Extraction’s game experience.  Sure, things jumped out from vents and floor grates – and they did so with alarming force – but that which you hear and not see never really hits the mark as it did so well during Dead Space 2.

Although Extraction affords for a nice variety in character voice-overs – and for the most part they are authentically presented with a good amount of believability – they are distracted from by a consistently annoying sound effect.  As with Dead Space and Dead Space 2, Extraction provides players with the much needed abilities of Stasis and Kinesis.  Both abilities come in handy from start to finish but Kinesis has added an unnecessary and unusually loud sound effect.  The constant whooshing sound is loud enough to drown out much of the dialogue and other sounds throughout the games campaign.  Added to this annoyance is the fact that the player is constantly using Kinesis to quickly grab as many items as possible that briefly flash on screen.

If you’re a fan of the Dead Space franchise, a fan of rail shooters, a fan of the PlayStation Move or just want to play through an above average survival-horror game for a more than reasonable price I would say that Dead Space Extraction is the game for you.  The game is already several years old and is not breaking any major ground with the HD remaster for the PlayStation but it should, for the most part, keep you (and hopefully a partner) entertained for the full campaign.  Just don’t set your expectations too high and everything will be just fine.


Written by Bill Braun

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