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What's Hot: Spooky atmosphere; Credible characters; Terrific use of the Wii Remote's crappy little good-for-nothing speaker; Looks good -- all together now, class! -- FOR A WII GAME.
What's Not: Suffers from a terminal case of I Want to Look Over There But I Can't syndrome; Ammo is terribly scarce.
Crispy Gamer Says: Fry
I didn't love the original "Dead Space" when I began playing it. But then it got under my skin, in a good way; and I wound up not only finishing it, but playing through it a second time. It was the game's layered soundtrack -- the constant feeling that something was lurking in the ship's walls around me, along with that supremely creepy rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle,
"Dead Space Extraction" functions as a prequel to "Dead Space." The game's events occur three weeks before those of the original game. The premise: Miners have located some sort of religious artifact called a Marker, and all hell breaks loose. An infection spreads, turning the colony's inhabitants basically into the same pale, semi-nude, long-limbed creatures that I fought in "Dead Space."
Extraction is an on-rails shooter, the videogame equivalent of the carnival funhouse ride. You get into your little cart, the safety bar is lowered into your lap, and the cart sets off. You can't determine where the cart goes. You grip the safety bar, peer into the dark, and just kind of hope that the whole thing is over soon.
I generally don't mind on-rails shooters. "
In an era when self-expression in games is so prevalent -- when gamers are accustomed to building their own levels in "LittleBigPlanet," writing their own music for "Guitar Hero" or being a good guy or bad guy in pretty much any BioWare game -- this brand of old-school design choice feels decidedly antiquated.
No surprise that I spent my first couple hours with the game feeling incredibly irritated by the whole operation. I'd see something that I wanted to take a closer look at -- a side room that looked interesting, or a flickering power-up off in a distant corner -- but I was already being hauled off, tugged into the next room before I had a chance to properly investigate.
You're supposed to play the game with the Wii Zapper or one of the other light-gun peripherals on the market. (Note: Pointing the Wii Remote at the television and pretending you have a Wii Zapper also works fine.) Gameplay generally consists of three actions: 1) shooting at incoming Necromorphs; 2) hitting the A button to employ Kinesis to suck stray items to you, and 3) managing your ammunition and weapons.
Crispy Gamer Pro Tip: Reload. A lot.
You will run out of ammo early and often. Ammo is in awfully short supply for a game that aspires to be an action-centric shooter. I was constantly running out of everything, which perpetually forced me to switch weapons, and more often than not, eventually switch back to my trusty -- but woefully underpowered -- Rivet Gun, which never runs out of ammo. Each weapon has an alt-fire function, which you can access by twisting the Zapper or Wii Remote sideways, "Boyz n the Hood"-style.
Since ammo is scarce, you quickly learn to constantly tap-tap-tap the A button/Kinesis button/suck-it-toward-you button between battles.
In some -- not all -- of the game's darker areas, you can vigorously shake the Wii Remote to activate a greenish light, called a Glow Worm, which no doubt one of the younger miners recently picked up at an all-night rave. The light will blink out every few minutes, requiring you to re-shake the Wii Remote to get it going again.
Extraction makes excellent use of the tinny speaker on the Wii Remote. The little speaker makes a sound like a can of spray paint being shaken whenever you activate the Glow Worm. And when you find an Audio Log, these audio files play through the Wii Remote's speaker. The transmission is usually difficult to hear, so I found myself sitting in my living room, holding the Wii Remote to my ear, listening to the final words of a now-dead miner or scientist.
I wish more developers would find creative ways to use the cruddy, cheap-o speaker in the Wii Remote.
Like in the original "Dead Space," shooting the limbs off Necromorphs, aka Strategic Dismemberment, is the easiest way to put them down. You can also swing the Nunchuk for a melee attack that will allow you to break through any barricades in the game. The melee attack is pretty puny, so you can't really use it during battles.
But the game also features, probably for the first time ever in a videogame, the classic cover-the-opening zombie-movie moment: While a non-player character holds a piece of steel over an opening in the wall, you must "board up" the hole with your Rivet Gun. These provide some of the most nerve-wracking moments in the game.
Overall, "Dead Space Extraction" turns out to be a fairly uneven interactive horror movie that's sometimes scary, sometimes boring and often frustrating. My inability to explore (or rather, re-explore) the game's semi-familiar environs -- feeling constantly rushed through the world -- makes me suspicious that the game has something to hide; something that the developers didn't want me to look too closely at, or linger on. As a result, the game only occasionally rises above banal cheesiness.
Maybe if "Extraction" had shipped before "Dead Space," I'd feel more generous toward it. Mostly all "Extraction" did was make me want to take another jaunt through "Dead Space."
One saving grace: The game features one of the strongest female protagonists of the year in Lexine. She begins the game bereaving the loss of her significant other, but eventually comes into her own as a skilled Necromorph ass-kicker.
EA and Visceral Games: Please leave the on-rails dynamic behind in all future games, but give us more Lexine.
And I said please.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Article: Copyright © iHaveNet
Video Games: Dead Space Extraction - Wii
Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services