Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Q3 2009
Last year's Dead Space was the centerpiece of a full-fledged multimedia blitz, encompassing the game, a six-issue comic book from Wildstorm, and an animated movie, "Dead Space: Downfall." The story begins with the discovery of an alien artifact on the planet Aegis VII, the religious mania and mass suicides that followed in its wake, and the subsequent invasion of an alien species that animates the bodies of the dead.
Dead Space: Extraction is a fourth installment in the story, set before the events of "Downfall." The miners on Aegis VII have just unearthed a Marker, an alien artifact that figures prominently into the teachings of the religion of Unitology. This causes a lot of stress both in the colony and in the Ishimura, which has come to finish the mining process by cracking open the planet. Before too long, though, most of the Unitologists who were participating in the argument have killed themselves, and the people who are left are a bit more worried about the necromorphs that are trying to murder them all.
In Extraction, you and a friend play as two members of a group of miners that are trying to escape the colony on Aegis VII. As in Dead Space, you're not hard-bitten space marines using a variety of semi-automatic weaponry; instead, you're wielding repurposed mining tools. Necromorphs are particularly vulnerable to dismemberment, so using a plasma cutter to take off their limbs is a solid Plan A. You can also use the whole arsenal from Dead Space, such as a flamethrower, a rivet gun, or the giant plasma saw blade launcher that the game just calls the Ripper.
Dead Space's holographic UI is used to decent effect here, and the goal-finder feature, which projects a line of light on the floor telling you where to go next, is used to indicate branching paths to your next destination.
You also have access to Dead Space's big panic button, the stasis module. Designed to slow down time in the event of a cave-in, the stasis module dramatically but temporarily slows down a necromorph, allowing you to carefully blow bits off of it. Extraction makes extensive use of in-game physics, allowing you to throw objects around more or less at will, including using the kinesis module to propel objects as improvised weapons.
When seen in action, Extraction has more of a cinematic feel than anything else. Other recent rail shooters on the Wii, like Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and House of the Dead: Overkill, took their inspiration straight from arcade quarter-munchers, piling on the enemies as fast as possible. Extraction looks more like an FPS that doesn't give you the option to move. In the demo EA showed me in San Francisco, in between fights with necromorphs, you get to watch the people with you run for safety, get messily killed and generally act like extras in Half-Life, right down to the really short lifespan.
If absolutely nothing else, the Wii is a great system for rail shooters, and it's good to see a resurgence in the genre. Dead Space always had sort of shooter-esque gameplay anyway, and the Wiimote lends itself well as a tool for lopping off zombie limbs. At the end of the day, Dead Space was also a bit bland and very derivative, but it was still playable. Dead Space: Extraction, as such, will probably be at least as good.
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