Review: Dead Space Extraction

DeadSpaceExtraction.jpg As the industry has moved into an era of open-world games where we as players are afforded so much free-form choice and control over our virtual avatars, on-rails shooters have quickly fallen out of favorability. And that’s really sad. I enjoy the latest and greatest FPSs as much as anyone, but I also still love to whip out a light gun (or similar controller) and blast baddies away in a guided fashion without having to think about exploring every nook and cranny of a game world.

That’s one reason I love my Wii. While the other big consoles have long forgotten about on-rails shooters, the genre has been in steady supply on the Wii. Some of my favorite Wii games have actually been light gun shooters, titles like Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, House of the Dead: Overkill, Ghost Squad and the arcade mode in Medal of Honor Heroes 2. Now Dead Space Extraction has joined the party, and let me tell you something, this is the best on-rails shooter on the Wii yet!

What I love about Dead Space Extraction is how it captures the best of both worlds. Playing through the Story Mode you’ll find yourself engulfed by a narrative-driven on-rails experience that’s more in-depth and immersive than any other game in the genre. And by completing the 10 chapters in the Story Mode you unlock missions for the Challenge Mode, which is faster paced and more action-oriented like a typical arcade light gun game. At any time, a friend can also jump in for cooperative Necromorph limb dispatching in either mode.

The Story Mode is definitely my favorite part of the game, mainly because the story is so captivating. Extraction’s plot takes place prior to the events of last year’s PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 third-person action/horror game and does a splendid job detailing the events that led to the Necromorph infestation of the USG Ishimura through a seamless integration of storytelling and gameplay – what would normally be considered cutscenes play out as the guided rail system is moving you forward, so you are always immersed within the setting and narrative.

Throughout each stage you’ll also find collectible text and audio diaries, and there are six video comic issues to unlock as well, all of which extend the Dead Space universe in a meaningful way. In addition, the character interaction is phenomenal throughout, and the strong voice acting performances, impressively detailed character models and dynamic camera system pull you into the experience even more (don’t worry, if you aren’t a fan of shaky cam you can tone it down in the options). Overall, there aren’t many Wii games that look or sound better than this. This game is quite the technical achievement, so kudos to Visceral Games for really digging into the Wii hardware and squeezing out as much graphical horsepower as possible. In an atmospheric horror game like this, every little detail and lighting effect is vital to generating a tangible sense of tension and fear.

As for the gameplay, it’s great too. Yes, it’s an on-rails shooter so most of the time you are simply pointing the Wii Remote and shooting with the B trigger, and there’s a deep arsenal of upgradeable firearms to collect through, most of which fans of the original will feel right at home with, like the plasma cutter, flamethrower and pulse rifle. But there’s more going on here than just pointing and shooting. For one, the same tactical dismemberment system that was so cool in the original Dead Space has returned, so there’s a lot more to shooting than mindlessly spamming bullets all over the screen. To defeat Necromorphs efficiently and effectively, you must aim at their limbs and pick them apart piece by piece. Personally, I always like to start with the legs so it slows down their approach, then I can pick them off more easily as they crawl on the floor.

Extraction goes even further beyond the traditional bounds of on-rails gameplay by utilizing the full range of the Wii’s motion-sensing capabilities. Flicking the Nunchuk, for example, functions as your melee attack, while shaking the Wii Remote charges your Glow Worm to light up dark areas. Each weapon is also equipped with an alternate-fire mode which you use by twisting the remote sideways when you shoot. Like the original, you can fire Stasis projectiles to temporarily slow down time and use kinesis to grab ammo pick-ups and other collectibles.

Honestly, I can’t come up with a single thing to complain about with Dead Space Extraction. I can see how some players may find the Story Mode limited in replayability given its story-driven pacing and, like the original, possibly tire of shooting the same Necromorph variants over and over, but neither of these things bothered me in the slightest. In fact, the game’s star-based rating system and numerous hidden collectibles make replaying stages a joy if you ask me.

Overall, Dead Space Extraction is one of the finest games I’ve ever put into my Wii. Please, guys and gals, go buy this game and let developers know that creating Mature-rated Wii games isn’t a lost cause (reportedly, Extraction sold less than 10k units in its first week, and that’s just sad). Regardless of platform, you really won’t find a tighter, more immersive combination of shooting, survival-horror and storytelling than this.

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Pros:
+ Richly detailed graphics
+ Immersive storytelling
+ Excellent voice acting
+ Great shooting mechanics and depth of control
+ Rating system, multiple paths, co-op, two play modes and lots of collectibles

Cons:
– Not coming up with anything here…

Game Info:
Platform: Wii
Publisher: EA
Developer: Visceral Games
Release Date: 9/29/09
Genre: On-Rails Shooter
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1-2
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!