While Xbox 360 and PS3 owners were busy enjoying EA’s Dead Space, Visceral Games had no intention of leaving Wii owners out of the loop. Knowing that Nintendo’s hardware would be unable to do a straight port of Issac Clarke’s adventures aboard the USG Ishimura any justice, they decided to use the rich universe they’d created for a spin off title, Dead Space Extraction.
So it’s somewhat ironic that Extraction has been ported across to the PSN to coincide with 2011’s return with Dead Space 2. The idea of the port in itself is no bad thing. After all Extraction was a good title which was chronically undersold by EA and criminally underperformed as a result.
Following a rag tag bunch of characters fighting to escape from the surface of Aegis VII when the mysterious marker is disturbed by an excavation team (and if that means nothing to you, then you really need to stop reading this now and go and play the brilliant Dead Space immediately), the player and an optional partner in local co-op must shoot their way through the hoards of insane colonists and monstrous Necromorphs. This takes the form of an on-rails shooter with quick reactions required to fend off enemies and use the quieter moments to pick up weapons, and ammunition to survive.
With a strong opening section which lets you experience the initial madness on Aegis VII first hand, for the majority of the game Extraction’s pace feels slower in nature than other Dead Space titles. This is largely due to the games mechanics and the flaw in trying create any kind of tension during an on-rails shooter. It all feels very stop / start, almost schizophrenically so on times, relying heavily on cheap scares to try and catch the player out. Breakable boxes are stashed everywhere and the player is encouraged to use the telekinesis grab to break them, or shoot them for goodies whenever they see them. It’s ridiculously hard to build atmosphere when one of the core mechanics requires the player to grab and smash things frantically at every available opportunity, like some sort of butter fingered kleptomaniac.
So while it doesn’t have the same intensity in its atmosphere as the original, Extraction still manages to tell a compelling story, one that you’ll certainly want to experience right up to the end to find how it all ties in. Not even some dodgy voice acting (the biggest culprit being main character Lexine Murdoc’s abysmal accent which sounds like some crazy Irish/ American/ Scottish mutation) is enough to detract from things too much.
Ultimately the question is whether this PSN update of the game is enough to warrant its existence. Despite missing the bonus content like the animated shorts found in the Wii release, it’s a perfect port with a visual kick in the pants. That’s no bad thing since even Wii owners were pinning to see the game in HD once the Dolphin Emulator showed what it could have looked like. Its makeover certainly benefits things; the game looks crisper, really showing off the great detail which had been put into creating the environments. The increased fidelity also adds to the horror of the Necromorphs as they advance, with headshots and dismemberment feeling a lot more punchy now that it isn’t fudged by the constraints of low resolution.
The game is also Move compatible and this is undoubtedly the way the game should be played, closely mimicking the original Wii controls but with some added accuracy. While you can still play it with a Dual Shock pad, it feels like wading through treacle – it’ll do the job, but it won’t be pretty and nowhere near as fluid as it should be.
Wii owners will certainly be delighted to see the game finally get some of the treatment it deserved from the start, and fans of Dead Space who didn’t have the chance to experience the game first time around will revel in the chance to finally play the game, especially since it ties in with the first set of DLC to be released for Dead Space 2.