Game Info:

Dead Space: Extraction
Publisher: EA
Developed by: Visceral Games
Release date: September 29th, 2009
Genre: Shooter/Horror
ESRB: Blood and Gore, Intense violence, Strong Language.
Platforms: Wii, PS3 (Wii version reviewed)
$15 on Amazon

Dead Space: Extraction is a prequel to the original Dead Space, released for the Xbox 360 and the PS3 in 2008. DS:E takes place before the incident with the USG Ishimura, with a new cast and a story that explains why and how the events in the first Dead Space happened. After a brief introduction showing you how the functions and controls work, you\'ll be blasting through horde after horde of nasty monsters called Necromorphs, until the cliffhanger ending leaves you pondering what you\'ve just seen.

Cliffhanger ending aside, the story of DS:E is interesting, though it has some holes in it. In fact, even collecting all of the audio files (which play through the Wii Remote\'s speaker) and message logs still leave you with questions of what, exactly, is going on. Surveyors dig up an ancient and mysterious artifact called The Marker, and everyone starts going bonkers. I won\'t spoil any more, but you only get a general outline of events in the game. Nothing is truly explained, leaving it not much more than a run-from-the-monsters-and-shoot experience. I feel I should note that since I\'ve never played the original Dead Space, I cannot comment on whether or not these questions are answered in that game.

DS:E falls under the category of on-rails shooter, meaning you will be called upon at times to make choices as to which path to take, but you have no actual movement or screen control over your character, just their weapon. It added an element of suspense, not knowing what was off screen waiting for you. There are a few “free-look” areas in the game, allowing you to explore your current position briefly to gather items and such, but they are few and far between.

Strong Points: Graphically pushes the Wii, easy controls that never caused problems, sound used heavily to add to the already horrific atmosphere.
Weak Points: Too easy on standard settings, several glitches and frame rate drops, becomes repetitive at the end.
Moral Warnings: Intense, bloody violence and gore, foul language used frequently, nudity tossed in for no apparent reason.

You get a sense of actually feeling like you\'re in the character\'s shoes as you progress into the darkened corridors of Aegis VII. If they walk by a mirror, you see their face. If they trip, you go down with them, the screen tilting and tossing as they do. It was pretty cool getting that level of immersion out of what normally is a story-less (or at least interesting story-less) genre. It also added to the freakish factor, as the game throws necromorphs out of unexpected areas and right into your face. The atmosphere of the game follows suit and enhances with the immersion factor, looking like some sort of apocalyptic nightmare come to life. The graphics add to this, as they are (for the Wii, of course) excellent. Enemies are detailed, the environs (before they get wrecked) look lived in, and the textures for the world are great. The only problem I have is that the graphics have a vaguely cartoonish feel to them.

That said, very few parts of this game were what I would call scary. Certainly, a few parts made me jump, but after the first few levels it becomes the same thing as before. Actually, only the dark areas where you\'re crawling through tunnels are frightening. Thankfully, you have a trusty glow worm (activated by shaking the Wii-remote up and down--not a fun thing during a battle) to provide that “can\'t afford a flashlight” spooky feel and light up the dark a bit.

Unfortunately, like most shooters (and especially the on-rails variety) it suffers from the plague of repetition. The game manages to avoid getting old for a good while, but doesn\'t avoid it forever. Eventually, it becomes little more than target practice. Target practice for hideous flesh rending monsters, but still target practice.

There are a few puzzles along the way, and when it starts to become truly tedious, the developers throw in a few surprises. The puzzles were fun, but no more than “trace the line” exercises. Simple enough, but having to fight off necromorphs at the same time added more to it.

Still, as I played the final few levels, I was waiting for the game to be over. It\'s relatively short 5-7 hour length becomes a blessing in this case. Bonus content won\'t extend the game much further unless you liked it the first time through. You only unlock harder difficulty levels of the game, as well as a challenge mode (which allows you to replay each level without the story sequences, going for a high score). Also on the disc is the online comic series, which is a nice feature if you\'re interested. There is also a co-op mode I was unable to try. Funnily enough, no one wanted to play the game with me.

On normal mode, the game doesn\'t pose much of a challenge. I only died once, and it wasn\'t due to the difficulty of the game, but rather because I couldn\'t figure out how to beat one of the bosses. Part of this is the fact that most all of the weapons are strong--bordering on overpowered--until you hit some tough guys at the end. Even the beginning rivet gun is still usable at the end of the game, and since it never runs out of ammo, you\'ll be using it occasionally.
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay: 15/20
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 9/10
Stability: 3/5
Controls/interface: 5/5

Morality Score - 60%
Violence/blood/gore 2/10
Language 5/10
Sexual content/nudity 6/10
Occult/supernatural 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10

And if things still get a bit too fast for you, you\'ve been given a nifty little tool called a Cryo-Stasis unit. Basically, it will freeze your target temporarily, allowing you to focus on less dangerous enemies. You\'re also equipped with something very cool: a Telekinesis unit which allows you to pick things up, throw stuff, among other things. It\'s how you get power-ups and solve a few puzzles in the game, as well as grabbing audio or message logs scattered around.

There is a nice selection of 9 weapons, with each having an alternate fire mode activated by turning the Wii remote 90 degrees. That got tricky during firefights, but I actually enjoyed it. And following along with the original game, most of the weapons are, ahem, “re-purposed” power tools. The rivet gun will be used in action sequences several times, functioning as a tool and weapon. The ripper, a botany tool I dearly want, is a whirling saw blade of death which, interestingly enough, is controlled by moving the Wii remote closer or farther away from the screen. My favorite though, would be the flamethrower, which spits a fireball in it\'s alternate mode. In its normal mode, it simply torches everything in its path. A weapon called a line gun fires an energy beam that shreds any living thing in its path.

And speaking of shredding, shredding you will do. Before I get into the moral content though, I offer a spoiler warning, as I will have to get into them a bit.

DS:E is easily the most violent game I\'ve ever come across. Limbs, heads, and organs will fly off, explode, and roll around your feet. The reason for this is simple: Necromorphs aren\'t just your normal variety space zombie monster; their heads aren\'t their weak points. Dead Space brought in a feature called “strategic dismemberment”, and DSE holds onto that dandily. In fact it may used more, considering the first person perspective and Wii Remote control. You\'re required to remove certain body parts to get past enemies, differing on which type of Necromorph you happen to be fighting. The few infected humans you fight die in similar ways, with heads or limbs exploding with your shots. You\'ll come across a woman who repeatedly shoves a dagger into herself, laughing as she does so. Several human bystanders have their heads removed by a nearby necromorph or blow up entirely, with limbs and such rolling about. Blood, too, flies everywhere with each shot, coating everything. You\'re also required to cut off your character\'s own arm with a melee attack in one game sequence. The comics (in the bonus content) are just as, if not more, violent than the game itself. Oddly, the language is worse too, with five minutes of the first comic having the language you hear in one hour of game play. The f-word is used a dozen times or more, God\'s name is taken in vain perhaps half of that (paired with d—n most of those) and smatterings of b---h, b-----d, hell d—n and a-- sprinkled through audio logs, crew messages, and the dialogue of the main characters themselves. Nudity is surprisingly present, though in a non-sexual way. The explicit parts are blurred or obscured, but you see a woman\'s backside for five to ten seconds as she steps out of a medical examination. There are also ads for a club of some sort up on some of the walls, though you likely won\'t have time to notice. The story somewhat revolves around a mysterious cult called the church of Unitology, which promises new life after death, and worship the Marker and a leader martyred on earth.

The game controlled fluidly and was easy to grasp. The Pointer function controls targeting, A button is Telekinesis, and swinging the Nunchuck is your melee attack. B button acts as your trigger. There is also a more motion reliant form of control specifically for use with the Wii Zapper, though I stuck with the standard configuration throughout the whole game. Very short learning curve. The game held a steady frame rate for the majority of the experience. Only when there were many Necromorphs on the screen with several explosions did it drop momentarily. There were a few glitches, however. And at least one of them could have ended very badly. In both cases, a Necromorph got caught on a wall or object in the game, and was unable to approach. If you can\'t kill them, you won\'t get to the next triggered event. Thankfully, I had an explosive weapon that killed it inside the wall, or I would\'ve had to reset.

The sound is one of the impressive things about the game. I played with headphones on, and the sound turned up, and it added much to the experience. As the characters traverse the ship and planet, cries ring out from the darkness, screams from persons or monsters that aren\'t there sound out, and you will soon learn to listen for certain sounds that lead to something jumping out, or a large fight ahead. Not really much music, but then, music in the background likely would have detracted from the overall “feel” of the game.

I\'ve been told before that survival horror games aren\'t my thing. I agreed, so I thought I\'d try out DS:E, which appeared to be a mixture of horror and action, with much more gunplay than the other horror games I\'ve tried. To be honest, I think I\'m going to listen to the advice given to me next time. Though the tale (what you got of it) was interesting to be sure, I finished Dead Space: Extraction with a bad taste in my mouth. The violence is such to the point of earning the word grotesque or, dare I say it, visceral. And this, along with all the other negative moral content, left me kinda blank faced in the end. I don\'t honestly believe I could recommend this game to anyone in good conscience. This may be a problem of sorts, as the total game package is quite impressive, especially coming from a third party developer. It\'s definitely not for everyone, least of all me, but it\'s still a solid game that perhaps explains a few things to Dead Space fans, and gives Wii owners a darker title for their collection.

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