System: Wii (Exclusive)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Rail Shooter
I never played the original Dead Space on 360/PS3. It’s not that had no interest in the game, because I definitely did. I drooled at tons of screenshots, lustfully watched plenty of gameplay footage, and read a good amount of reviews. Everything I saw or read about the game definitely tickled my fancy, but for some reason I just never bought or rented it.
So when Dead Space Extraction, the Wii-Exclusive prequel, was announced I had very little interest in the game. Once it was revealed that the title would serve as a spooky and atmospheric On Rails Shooter, my ears perked up and I began developing an interest while the majority of Wii gamers scoffed at the Light Gun Style gameplay, calling it inferior and assuming it would be boring.
I’m not sure why people refuse to give the new Wii-driven era of Rail Shooters a chance, but those people are missing out on one of the best hardcore games the Wii has ever seen.As I’ve already stated, Extraction is a prequel to the original Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 frightfest. As also iterated, I have never played said frightfest, so I had no idea what to expect when starting Extraction. Thankfully the developers have done an outstanding job of creating a prequel that provides loads of backstory to the original Dead Space without making it feel like backstory to newcomers such as myself. This means the game is accessible to everyone, and the story is simply more rewarding to veterans.
The story opens with the discovery of a mysterious “Marker” near a colony resting on a planet called Aegis VII. Shortly after an excavation team attempts to harvest this Marker, the entire colony goes straight to Hell. It starts with people in the mines around the Marker going insane and brutally attacking each other. I’m not going to ruin it, but I’ll just say the opening sequence is fantastically done and does an excellent job of introducing players to the brutal gameplay to come as well as getting the story started.
Throughout the main campaign players will take control of a handful of different characters, which helps introduce several different perspectives and does a great job of keeping the storytelling fresh and very interesting. When the story isn’t pushed through action or immediate dialogue between the characters, it’s told via text and audio logs. This isn’t the most immersive way of pushing a tale along, but it works just fine.
As we’ve all learned by now, the controls are what really makes or breaks a Light Gun game on the Wii. It doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to do, but games like Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles have shown us how much stiff cursor movement and spotty collision detection can detract from the overall experience of a Rail Shooter. On the opposite side of the spectrum are games like The House of the Dead: Overkill, with responsive and fun controls that just simply work.
Thankfully, Dead Space Extraction’s controls work fantastically. Cursor movement is responsive and quick, making targeting Necromorph limbs a breeze. Unlike both Umbrella Chronicles and Overkill, however, players do not have any control over the camera. In both of those other two games players can manipulate the camera a slight amount to see enemies or items just outside the default view. No leeway in where you are looking can lead to some frustrating item-misses and awkward aiming scenarios.
At any time players can carry up to four weapons, accessible by the analog stick, as well as the ability to grab items with the A button and use Stasis to slow enemies or objects down with C while Z reloads. Waggle is limited to melee attacks with the Nunchuck and fighting off enemies that have grabbed you with the Wiimote. Melee attacks are extremely ineffective in combat, but is often forced to clear debris in levels. Shaking the Wiimote to fight off enemies that have gotten too close and latched onto your character is very effective and really increase your adrenaline.
Aside from controlling like a charm, the game looks fantastic. The developers have done a fantastic job of creating an enveloping environment with a vice-like grip that holds your attention the entire way through the game. The lighting effects are great, particles are nice, character and enemy models are all fantastic, and level design is creepy as hell. On top of that, the physics are excellent. Blasting off enemy limbs with pinpoint precision is a very satisfying feeling and works fantastically.
It isn’t all good, though. While the lighting effects help bring forward an amazing atmosphere, the textures are extremely blurry, water effects are extremely poor, and it is very hard to see enemies that are stationed a decent distance away. That last observation is particularly frustrating, especially when the far off enemies throw projectiles. There are also plenty of graphical glitches to be had, especially in round environments, where downed Necros float, as do several other objects.
Equally impressive is the sound design. There are loads and loads of well-done voice acting and, although there are some cheesy lines and unintentionally humorous tones (especially from the main heroine), the majority is exceptionally impressive. Sound effects are all spot on, from weapon sounds to audio logs to the grueling sounds of an enemy’s flesh being torn apart by your Ripper (one of the many awesome guns the game offers).
Dead Space Extraction offers 10 chapters through the main campaign and at least 8 hours of gameplay. Each level can be played over on different difficulties or in a challenge mode, the inclusion of jump-in-anytime coop gameplay makes playing through a second time a blast with a friend, and there are loads of unlockables including the full collection of motion comics released alongside the original game. There’s more than enough content in Extraction to warrant a purchase, and it’s one of those games you’ll keep going back to just for fun.
Dead Space Extraction is an extremely fun and engaging Rail Shooter, and a wonderful example of how the genre can thrive wonderfully on Nintendo’s console. Though in my opinion it doesn’t take the number one spot away from The House of the Dead: Overkill, Extraction gives it a fierce run for its money.
The controls and atmosphere are absolutely stellar, and if you can forgive a few technical mars and a slight lack of polish on some textures, it is a beautiful game. The sound design is one of the best the Wii has seen in a long time, which only adds to the level of immersion. If you can get past the fact that it is an On-Rails Shooter, this is a game that will appeal to nearly all hardcore Wii gamers.
- Excellent controls allow for high accuracy
- Immersive atmosphere
- Stellar lighting, particle, and sound effects
- Tons of unlockables and replay value
- Fun multiplayer
- Some cheesy dialogue
- Muddy textures and a few graphical glitches
- Hard to target far off enemies
Entertainment Value: 8.75/10