Many survival horror fans enjoyed Electronic Arts’ Dead Space, which took the science of terror to the stars and beyond. Despite developing a strong following, many fans haven’t followed the sequel/prequel, Dead Space: Extraction. Despite being on the Wii, Extraction captures the spirit and atmosphere of the original to create something that is not kid friendly.
First, the story. Dead Space: Extraction starts shortly before the excavation of the Red Marker, and takes the player through the terrifying events that follow. Throughout the game, the player controls a variety of characters, tackles challenges, and even solves a few puzzles. Players visit some of the same areas from Dead Space such as Hydroponics, the Bridge, the Captain’s Deck, and the Medical area (which includes a familiar blond-headed medical specialist).
A few differences set Extraction apart from its predecessor. For one, the player isn’t alone as up to four individuals tag along. Additionally, the game is a first-person rail shooter. For the ignorant (like me at the game’s outset), the characters move through the game automatically. It’s like being on a ride at Disney Land, really. The game also sports a two-player mode, an unlockable Challenge mode, and all the Dead Space comics that are viewable after the game’s completion.
Now, onto the graphics, which given the Wii’s lack of power is a critical issue. Moving from the Xbox 360 to the Wii, which has often been knocked for its graphics, might give one pause, but I’m glad to report that the Wii rises to the challenge. It doesn’t reach the high technical level of Dead Space, but the graphics, environments, and characters look very good. As the Wii isn’t as powerful as the Xbox 360, there has been some curtailing of the graphics. Because the team is always nearby, the pop-up video communications from the first game are rarely present, and the holographic inventory is gone. There are a few graphical twitches, like pop-up problems, but these are minor and thankfully infrequent. I’m impressed at the graphical muscle they’ve squeezed out of the Wii.
The audio is good for the most part, but like the graphics, has been reigned in and can be eccentric. The voice cast is mostly from the UK, and voice talent cements the game’s characters. The voice cast deserves special mention. Minor and major characters alike, they bring the game together. The sound effects have been largely drawn from the original game, and are at the same level of quality as the original.
The game play is one of Extraction’s more novel concepts. The game is operated with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination, or the Wii Zapper for those that have dropped $20 on it. The strategic dismemberment from Dead Space comes into play, as do the stasis field, kinetic power, and a new weapons like the rivet gun and melee force pick.
That’s all great, but how well does it work? Surprisingly well. Players aim and fire using the Wiimote, while tilting the Wii remote 90 degrees activates the gun’s alternate fire. Melee attacks are done by slashing diagonally, which is one of the more inexact parts of the game. Many times I’ve slashed all over the screen with mixed success, but it’s mainly used out of combat, so there’s plenty of time to chop away.
The game play is tight, but the rail shooter style holds it back. It’s great for the effect on pacing and story, but it detracts from other areas of the game because it makes item collection tricky. There are times when the character enters a room, looks this way and that for enemies, causing the player to flail around to collect items before they pass out of sight. When those items can mean the difference between success and failure, more time to grab them would’ve been nice. The game only lets the player look around at certain times, and even then it’s on a timer. That strikes me as too pushy; it’s like walking with someone constantly pushing me in the small of the back.
Pushy pacing aside, this game is very fun. It’s puts a fresh face on the Dead Space universe, and offers compelling new characters and dangerous encounters. The player nearly get swallowed about 12 times – tell me that’s not exciting. Those that liked Dead Space, its comics, and the gore fest Dead Space: Downfall should at least try or buy the game. Make it whole.