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I’ve always been interested in Dead Space: Extraction because it’s a rail shooter. I always thought about picking it up for Wii but never did. It’s a prequel to Dead Space and is set during the same time as the film Dead Space: Downfall which I’ve never seen. Developed by Visceral Games with assistance from Eurocom and published by EA, Dead Space: Extraction was released for Wii in September, 2009. It was released on the same disc as Dead Space 2, specifically the Limited Edition, for PlayStation 3 in January, 2011. I almost purchased the standalone version from the PlayStation Store but I found a copy of the Limited Edition of Dead Space 2 for thirteen bucks on eBay so I bought that instead. Extraction is compatible with the DualShock 3 and PlayStation Move controllers and for this review, I used the latter.
The story will put you in the shoes of several protagonists and you’ll bounce between them throughout the campaign. The story opens with a small crew of miners helping to extract the Red Marker from Aegis VII. Among the miners is Sam Caldwell who, along with the rest of the crew, suffers hallucinations and he ends up killing his crewmates before being killed by Detective Nathan McNeill from a P-Sec squad. A week later, McNeill and his friend Sgt. Gabriel Weller who serves on the Ishimura, discover the entire Aegis VII colony is infected and the duo is attacked by colonists and Necromorphs. They eventually team up with other characters including Lexine Murdoch who was Sam Caldwell’s girlfriend and mining company executive Warren Eckhardt. The group flies to the Ishimura for help but discover the ship is infested with Necromorphs. On their quest to escape, they come across several NPC’s including Nicole Brennan and Dr. Karen Howell who assists Lexine after she gets separated from the group. The plot isn’t bad and it’s accompanied by some decent voice acting. Because this is a rail shooter, I didn’t expect the story to be as good as it is. I was always interested to see what was going to happen next. Extraction is a very story-driven experience and for a rail shooter, it’s quite long. The story plays out in chapters and took me about six hours to complete.
Dead Space: Extraction is a rail shooter so you don’t get to control your character’s movement and it does support two players. You aim and interact with things in the environments using your crosshair. I played with the motion controller and you’ll have to shake it to light up your glow worm to see better in dark areas and to use your Rock Saw which can be used as a melee weapon and to cut through obstacles. The characters are equipped with the Kinesis and Stasis modules. You can use Kinesis to grab and throw objects and Stasis to temporarily slow down objects and enemies. Stasis can be used three-times before you must wait for one of the stasis bars to recharge. You’ll have to push buttons, shake off enemies that grab or swarm you, you’ll jump from surface to surface in zero gravity areas, you’ll have to override panels by moving nodes around, and at certain points you’ll have to decide which path to take which does add some replay value to the campaign.
As you navigate the environments, you’ll have the opportunity to acquire items like weapons, ammo for your weapons, weapon upgrades, med packs to restore health, revive packs which restore your life when your health reaches zero, and text, audio, and video logs. These items can be found just lying around, in containers, or in supply closets which are only accessible after shooting the purple boxes near them. Enemies will drop med packs and ammo when killed and it can be very easy to miss items since you have no control over your character’s movement. Sometimes the game will let you look around freely for a brief time which is a good opporunity to nab any items you need. You’ll earn a star rating for a chapter based on your performance and items collected. The amount of stars you’ve earned will determine what features you unlock like extra health and stasis upgrades.
You can only carry four weapons and swap out three of them with others found throughout the environments. The Rivet Gun is a permanent part of your arsenal and comes with infinite ammo. Many weapons from the original Dead Space are present in Extraction along with some new ones and each one has a secondary fire mode. You’ll get your hands on the Plasma Cutter, Line Gun, Flamethrower, Pulse Rifle, Force Gun, Ripper, and Contact Beam. New weapons include the Rivet Gun, P-Sec pistol, and Arc Welder. The Rivet Gun can be used to nail items or shoot enemies and it can also be charged up to fire more powerful shots. The P-Sec pistol fires slugs of lead alloy and it can also fire three at a time. The Arc Welder fires an electricity bolt capable of arcing to nearby enemies and it’s alternate fire is a concealed ball of electricity which can knock back enemies. All weapons can prove to be useful and some are better for certain situations but you may grow fond of specific weapons and prefer to use them over others. You’ll want to play with them all to see what works best and you can find weapon upgrades throughout the environments which do increase their ammo capacity.
As expected, the best way to defeat enemies is to sever their limbs. Shooting them in the head or body will do damage but you’ll consume more ammo than if you just shot off their limbs. Shooting off their limbs also slows them down which is great for when you’re up against multiple at a time. The stasis module will prove to be extremely helpful when you’re outnumbered. You’ll engage most of the Necromorph types you encountered in the original Dead Space like Slashers, Leapers, Swarmers, Exploders, Lurkers, and a Brute among some others. And you will encounter some bosses which are large and grotesque. Most enemies will rush you, you’ll often get attacked when trying to interact with something, some enemies fire projectiles which can be intercepted with your kinesis and thrown back at them, and they will often side step to avoid your shots. Ammo isn’t hard to come by but you can blast through your ammo quickly so you’ll want to make your shots count. You can always fall back on the Rivet Gun if you’re out of ammo for everything else. You should also know how long it takes to reload because you can be attacked during that time so there is some thinking involved when it comes to combat. There is a fast reload mechanic which allows you to reload your weapon quickly as long as you press the reload button at the right time. It’s similar to the active reload mechanic in Gears of War.
Extraction includes four difficulty modes, two of which need to be unlocked. You will be forced to navigate down specific paths and sometimes you’re given the choice of multiple paths. You’re always going from point A to B and will have to complete objectives and solve basic puzzles. This has to be one of the most interactive rail shooters I’ve ever played. There’s more to the game than just pointing and shooting. You’ll have to move objects out of the way, manipulate objects, seal off gaps and entrances, and there is a neat set piece where you use a cannon to defend a ship from asteroids and intercept enemy fire. You will traverse through several of the locations seen in the original Dead Space and most of the campaign takes place on the Ishimura.
If there’s anything negative to say about the campaign mode it’s that you have to sit through all the dialogue and interactions. It’s more of an issue on subsequent playthroughs. If you just want to shoot shit, then the Challenge mode is what you’re looking for. But you need to unlock the Challenge mode stages by playing through the campaign. In the Challenge mode, you choose the stage, difficulty, and an extra weapon in addition to the Rivet Gun. You need to defeat enemies in waves and there are items like ammo and med packs to collect. You will acquire new weapons to equip in your other slots as you play through a stage but they are randomized. Luckily, the weapon upgrades you acquired in the campaign do carry over. Every time you sever a limb or kill an enemy, you earn points and the goal is try for a high score. After each wave, you advance a little further in the stage and the stages are based on locations seen in the campaign.
Dead Space: Extraction does look better than it’s Wii counterpart thanks to the graphical enhancements made possible by the PlayStation 3. I did frequently notice shadow pop-in and some textures are a bit muddy but, overall, the presentation looks decent. You’re usually travelling with a group so that sense of loneliness and isolation experienced in the first game isn’t really here. However, Extraction does retain the creepy atmosphere without a hitch. Dead bodies, blood, and objects will be littered all over the environments and lights will flicker. Enemies are grotesque and creepy looking and blood will spew and chunks will fly off their bodies as they take damage, and the fact that you’re not constantly engaging enemies in the campaign keeps the encounters from feeling predictable. The music is full of ambient and intense tunes that ramp up during encounters and the sound effects are solid. Weapons fire sounds satisfying and enemies will make all kinds of creepy noises. On the technical side, I encountered some frame rate dips and stutters, the game froze after completing the last chapter forcing me to replay it, and in the Challenge Mode, an enemy get stuck behind an object out of view.
Dead Space: Extraction is a very good rail shooter. I really did expect this to have a throwaway story with gameplay similar to that of the Challenge mode. But instead, I was pleasantly surprised. It has a decent storyline, there’s a good amount of replay value, the combat is fun and satisfying, and the campaign is very interactive. It’s also rather long. I had a great time with Extraction and the combat is just as fun and addictive as it was in the original Dead Space. There’s just something about shooting an enemy’s limb’s clean off. Extraction may not convey the same sense of dread as the first game in the series but it does retain the creepy atmosphere and the action is still brutal and gruesome.
If you’re a fan of Dead Space or rail shooters, I would absolutely recommend Dead Space: Extraction. Unfortunately, the PS3 version does not include the animated comic that was included in the Wii version. But this version does look better. Extraction is surprisingly better than I thought and is easily one of my favorite rail shooters for consoles. Definitely check it out.