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Critical Reception: EA/Visceral Games'  Dead Space Extraction

Critical Reception: EA/Visceral Games' Dead Space Extraction

September 30, 2009 | By Danny Cowan

September 30, 2009 | By Danny Cowan
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More: Console/PC, Columns



This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Dead Space Extraction, which reviews describe as "one of the best-looking and most fun action games on the Wii." Extraction currently earns a score of 82 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

GameSpy's Anthony Gallegos rates Dead Space Extraction at 4.5 out of 5 stars. "Dead Space Extraction is an example of a game where huge decisions were made regarding player choice and freedom," he writes. "While the original game was a largely linear third-person shooter, Extraction is a light-gun title that almost entirely removes the player's decisions about where they're heading."

"It could have easily wound up as a boring, arcade-style affair," Gallegos notes, "but it's been carefully crafted into an immersive first-person experience. The fantastic voice-acting, sound design, and technology that made the original Dead Space universe so engaging are brought back in this Wii prequel, combined with a cast of realistically flawed characters who make the narrative itself a compelling reason to play.

Gallegos finds that Extraction's new gameplay style works mostly to its advantage. "Enemies pop up in a series of traditional horror-movie 'boo' moments, leaving you to blow them away with any number of guns," he explains. "It's a lot of fun, and it stokes the fire in all of us that loves to blast the crap out of things."

However: "I was a little bothered by how hard it was to see enemies in the distance. Sometimes this was due to the game's use of darkness -- which I think is great, and well-done for a horror title -- but other times it was simply because the enemies looked muddy against the background, creating some situations where I'd get hit by a ranged attack and have to flat-out guess if my cursor was on top of them or not."

Otherwise, Gallegos describes the title as a standout in the Wii's software lineup. "The removal of player choice is anything but bad in Extraction," he concludes. "The minute components of the carefully crafted characters and engaging narrative would be all too easy to miss out on if I was too busy wondering whether to make a left or right turn. And hell, even if you aren't interested in the story, Extraction is still one of the best-looking and most fun action games on the Wii."

Robert Workman at GameDaily gives Dead Space Extraction a score of 8 out of 10. "The game serves as a prequel to Dead Space, chronicling the events that consumed both the colony and later, the planet cracking ship USG Ishimura," he explains. "Instead of directly controlling your character's movements, you're more along for the ride, blasting Necromorphs with a plethora of different weapons and collecting all sorts of items, including ammo, new guns and data logs."

Workman praises Extraction's focus on narrative and character development -- a rarity for the light-gun genre. "Instead of conjuring up a cheesy narrative (as seen in other shooters like Ghost Squad), the developers put a lot of effort into the story and its characters," he says. "Everyone has a unique personality and voice, and frequent cut scenes help blur the line between game and film. Sure, they have some cornball lines, but you'll care for these people and hope for the best, despite the overwhelming odds."

Extraction features many weapons and enemy creatures that fans of the original title will recognize. "Necromorphs appear from everywhere, and you'll blow them to bits by pointing the Wii remote at the screen and rapidly pressing the B trigger," Workman writes. "There's also a wide variety of weapons to kill them with, including the plasma cutter, pulse rifle, flamethrower and contact beam, each of which features upgrades as well as a secondary fire mode if you twist the remote."

Workman also describes Extraction's Wii Remote-specific features and drop-in co-op mode as noteworthy additions. "The developers combined all of these elements to create the Wii's best shooter, a mature-rated game that's well worth the $49.99 price tag," he says. "All of the dramatic moments, the satisfying combat and cut scenes make it a journey worth taking and proof that mature games belong on the Wii."

Eurogamer's Kristan Reed also scores Extraction at 8 out of 10. "Say what you like about the Wii, but if on-rails shooting is your idea of gaming bliss, there's no better platform for getting your RSI-inducing kicks," he begins. "Having been pleasantly surprised by the reboot that the likes of Resident Evil and SEGA's over-the-top House of the Dead have experienced, the idea of one based on Dead Space made a whole lot of sense."

"Gameplay is straightforward, yet it's a refined familiarity, borrowing numerous elements from the original Dead Space in abundance while wrapping them around the well-worn demands of a typical on-rails shooter," Reed notes. "Armed with body part-separating weaponry from the word go, you can target limbs in exactly the same way as was possible in the original, and soon the environment is awash with bloody chunks. "

Reed finds that Dead Space's dismemberment mechanic translates well to Extraction. "Getting the feel of the combat right is one of the game's triumphs, and in this area it's no less than exceptional," he praises, "with no end of heart-in-the-mouth moments as you fight off wave upon wave of determined and deadly Necromorphs, targeting the limbs to stop them in their tracks. At first, shooting their legs from under them might seem like the answer - that is, until you realise that they'll simply crawl towards you and whip you in the face with their tail instead."

Extraction's short length and lack of mid-level save points prove to be its greatest shortcomings. "Admittedly it's not the longest game in the world," Reed warns, "clocking in at about six hours for the entire main campaign, but it's worth discounting that on the basis of a decent amount of replayability. It's also slightly irksome to have to play each chapter without the ability to save your progress - particularly if you're stuck on the tricky boss encounters."

"Luckily for a game with such unapologetic cinematic pretensions, Dead Space Extraction does a fine job of weaving an engaging sci-fi narrative into a slick action game," Reed notes in conclusion. "Far from being a stripped-down side-show to the main event, Extraction provides yet another reminder of how brainlessly entertaining the on-rails shooter can be when it's done properly."


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