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PLATFORM: Wii
ESRB RATING: M
DEVELOPER:
Visceral Games / Eurocom
PUBLISHER: EA

With the great critical and financial success of Dead Space, everyone expected EA to quickly announce plans for a followup. They just didn’t expect it to be for the Wii.

Changing the game from a third person action/adventure title to a on-rails first person shooter (similar to what Capcom had done with Resident Evil) turned out to be the perfect idea, as Dead Space Extraction offers a unique experience while retaining that gory, limbs-strewn Dead Space feel.
    
THE PITCH
 
This prequel to Dead Space actually starts you off where you ended the last game- on the planet where the strange marker was found. This strange alien artifact has been uncovered during an excavation and is about to seriously impact the population of the colony. You start off as an engineer who is working on moving the marker from the dig site until your coworkers start going mad and attacking you. Using your tools as weapons you fight off your former crazed friends and try to survive as more and more things attempt to kill you. While you’ll go through some familiar locations you’ll also play through events that have only been hinted at before in the game and comics, and learn much more about just what is going on here.
 
THE PLAY
 
This is the most story driven on-rails shooter ever made. You’ll be amazed at how great the story
and voice acting is here, which is good because it has five times the
dialog of the first game. In the first Dead Space
you played a voiceless character who was separated from his comrades
and the story took a backseat to the crippling atmosphere and scares.
But here you’re constantly fighting alongside others and interacting with them, seeing them react to situations. They don’t help you out at all
in combat, though, the lazy bastards, but you’ll get a really
good feel for them and actually like them quite a bit. The voice acting and storytelling
is the one part of the game that clearly beats the original.


CHUDTIP- In the first chapter you’ll actually kill humans, something you never did in the first game. It’s a little disturbing.


The
other clever thing the game does in regards to story is constantly
place you in different characters. You’ll play as many different people
throughout and the game has no qualms about killing off anyone- even
the person you’re playing!

They completely and utterly stick you in these characters’ shoes, with the first person camera making sure you’re completely immersed. The camera will shake little nods of the head towards other characters, it will do quick spins when your character hears a sound behind them- it’s a dynamic, exciting experience and you really start to feel like you’re in this situation yourself. Whenever enemies appear on screen the camera levels off, giving you a better shot at the creatures and letting you enjoy that oh-so-satisfying gunplay.
 
The Wii was made for Dead Space. As with the original title the only way to kill the “necromorphs” (dead, reconstituted human beings) that swarm you are are to dismember them limb by limb, and it’s never been so easy as it is with the precision of the Wii remote.

Each weapon has its own little trick to it but the controls are simple enough- you pull the B button (the trigger) to fire your gun, and to use secondary fire you turn it sideways gangster-style. This works best for the plasma cutter which changes the horizontal laser to a vertical one. You’re given a new default weapon that’s really an engineering tool, a rivet gun. It shoots out fairly weak rivets but they can be charged up with secondary fire to make a shot that will sever pretty much any limb. Thankfully it has unlimited ammo, because the other guns/tools will run out fast if you rely on them.



CHUDTIP- If you turn the rivet gun sideways to charge up its secondary fire shot you can return it to the regular position and have it ready for the next necromorph that pops out at you.


Along with all the weapons made famous in the first game there are two more new ones- a pistol, which has a large clip but doesn’t do much good against these creatures, and a Arc Welder which shoots out bolts of electricity that can arc from closely packed enemies and fry them all at once.

Of all the weapons the Ripper’s the most fun once again, mostly because it shoots out a spinning saw blade that you can maneuver in any direction in and out of the screen using the remote, lopping off heads and arms with ease.

There are a few moments where you’ll have to rivet a door shut or solder a circuit board to bypass a door or lock but besides this though they haven’t really let this game fall into the gimmicky, mini-game laden pit that traps most developers on the Wii. Shaking the nunchuck works as a melee attack when enemies get too close but there aren’t any motion specific controls required- except for frantic shaking whenever you get grabbed by a creature. Thankfully all this serves to do is make you more frantic and you smash around you controller, trying to shake the monstrosity loose as quick as possible. You’ll feel like spazzing out anyway when you see these things up in your face.


CHUDTIP- This is where you don’t want to be. Shake the remote as fast as you can and get ready to hit the A button to punch them off, because they can whittle your health down real fast.

 
In the first game you were given a Stasis module that slowed down enemies and equipment, and it’s back here and an absolute requirement. You have three shots that recharge over time and you’ll really need to use them cleverly to stop the greater threats from getting too close to you. It makes it a lot easier to dismember when you have a slow-moving target, anyway.

During the plentiful story moments (really, I’d say the game is split about 60-40 story/action) you will be on the lookout for weapon powerups, ammo and health, all of which can be pulled towards yourself with Kinesis by hitting the A button. It’s a clever way of keeping you entertained and always on the lookout for things while everyone’s talking, helping to ensure it never gets boring.


CHUDTIP- Keep an eye out all over the screen for items that are glowing blue- these are upgrades for your weapons, and the most valuable pickups.


Another big feature is the jump-in, jump-out co-op. By simply pushing the plus button on the Wii remote at any time a buddy can join right in and give you some much-needed support. The screen can get a little cluttered with the two big reticules on it but it’s so much fun to play through with a friend.

The one big letdown for Extraction? It’s not scary. You’d think that a game that controls every thing you see would have an easier time of making you jump but there are no real jump scares or suspenseful scenes. The only time it gets frightening is when too many creatures get too close and you start to get low on ammo- but even then it’s a more frantic sense of panic than anything else.


CHUDTIP- Once again, avoid shooting the pregnants. The best way to deal with them is just like real life- kick them down the stairs.


There are a couple of nitpicks. There are still audio and text logs to find which just serve to bog down the gameplay (although it’s pretty awesome to listen to the audio logs through the remote’s speaker), and a couple of times I ran across bugs where I couldn’t advance to the next screen because an enemy was hiding behind some piece of scenery. Also- much like the original game the bosses are a bit of a letdown, and there are only a few in the game.

But as anyone who played through the original game already knows- there’s just nothing more satisfying than taking apart an enemy piece by piece. The gameplay here is top-notch, and pile that on top of the compelling story and you’ve got a must-buy game for the Wii. And how often do you get to hear that?
    
THE PRESENTATION

Forget The Conduit- this is the best looking Wii game ever. Sure, when you get too close to a creature or a wall you’ll see how muddy the textures look but otherwise you can almost be fooled into thinking this is a next-gen game. Even the lighting effects are better than anything you’ve seen on the system before, and there’s a whole lot of blood and gore and viscera to keep the horror fans happy.

The music and sound effects are just as jarring and atmospheric as the original game, and while the lack of Dolby Digital due to the Wii’s limitations is a shame the Dolby Pro Logic II keeps things going nicely.
   

THE REPLAY
 
The ten chapter campaign will take you around eight hours to beat, but the fact that it’s so story-based means that you won’t really want to jump right back in for another go. You do however get judged on your performance (out of five stars in each level) and can find powerups for weapons in specific locations, encouraging at least one more playthrough since you’ll inevitably miss some stuff the first time. But the game is too slow-paced and methodical at the beginning to make you want to jump right back in.

Thankfully they’ve smartly included unlockable Challenge modes, which will definitely keep you playing much longer. There are ten of these as well, all of which place you in sections from the game as waves and waves of enemies attack you. This is what you’ll play when friends come over, and it gets pretty vicious on the tougher difficulties.


CHUDTIP-
Hope this is not Chris’ blood.


The only downside here is that besides the Dead Space motion comics (which you can see on the website) there are no real unlockables. There aren’t any online leaderboards for the Challenge modes either so there’s no real incentive to do better on them, rather than beating your own score.


 

THE VERDICT

This is easily one of the greatest Wii exclusives ever, and the best game on the console so far this year. Completely faithful to the original game while doing its own thing (and doing it so well!), Dead Space Extraction is the kind of game you’d wish you see more on the little white console- one that completely plays to its strengths.

A must-have for any survival horror or shooter fan.
 

9.0 out of 10