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Dead Space 3: Awakened PS3 Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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Dead Space 3

Dead Space 3

Image © EA
"Dead Space 3" has been another smash hit for Electronic Arts, topping the February video games sales chart (in a crowded month that also included "Crysis 3" and "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance") and the publishers hope that gamers will keep exploring the saga of Isaac Clarke on Tau Volantis with the DLC, "Dead Space 3: Awakened." Is it worth the download? Maybe. If you LOVE "Dead Space 3" and just want a little more action, then dive back into the suit and get ready for some Necromorph amputations. However, one cannot deny that this is a bit of a letdown in terms of ambition. It's surprisingly short and consists almost entirely of recycled materials in terms of location and enemy. I do like the inclusion of more hallucinatory elements (a stronger part of "Dead Space" and "Dead Space 2" missing too often from Clarke's arc in "Dead Space 3") but this is a modest piece of DLC. It gives you about 70 minutes of action for ten bucks, kind of rewrites the conclusion of "Dead Space 3," and gives you mostly more of the same in terms of action.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: Visceral Games
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Release Date: March 12, 2013
  • Genre: Action
  • Website: Dead Space
  • Pros: Undeniably Well-Executed Action, More Hallucinatory Atmosphere
  • Cons: Awfully Short, Awfully Familiar

[Major Spoilers Ahead For "Dead Space 3"]. "Dead Space 3: Awakened" opens with Isaac Clarke and John Carver trying to figure out how they survived the end of the game and escaping a Tau Volantis & Terra Nova that seem increasingly closer to a vision of Hell. As Isaac traverses the snowy landscape, he sees former men praying to icons and has hallucinations where they turn into demons trying to kill him. The best element of "Awakened" is that it reincorporates an element from the first two games that was somewhat lost in "Dead Space 3" -- that Isaac Clarke is going insane. Have the people on Tau Volantis and on board the Terra Nova really gone so insane as to essentially pray to the Markers and hold up the Necromorphs as Gods or has Clarke finally ridden the space transport off the mental deep end? Can Clarke and Carver just get home?

Gameplay

Dead Space 3

Dead Space 3

Image © EA
It's more of the same. Clearly, one shouldn't play "Awakened" before they play the entirety of "Dead Space 3" so there will be little here in terms of gameplay that isn't totally familiar. In fact, nothing. You'll carry over the weapons and upgrades from the proper game, finding what feels like a more abundant number of circuits to make your arsenal even more powerful. You'll face most of the common bad guys from "Dead Space 3" along with a few new ones and the atmosphere on the Terra Nova, which has been overrun by culttist with an affinity for candlelight, is nifty, but one can't shake the feeling that a lot of "Awakened" is literally recycled elements from the full game. It's like playing through deleted scenes or levels that didn't quite make it past the design stage. While that's great for hardcore fans, it might have been better priced at five bucks instead of ten. It feels like a lot of people will get to the end of "Awakened" and wish there had been something more for the inaugural DLC for their favorite game of the year so far.

Graphics & Sound

Once again, more of the same. This time, I was reminded how well-designed "Dead Space 3" truly is on a visual level. The action is seamless, the environments are nicely detailed, and the cut scenes look great. The sound design is also appropriately terrifyiing. "Dead Space 3" is a game best-played loudly. Do the same with "Awakened." Let it live up to its title for your neighbors.

Overall

Dead Space 3

Dead Space 3

Image © EA
After only a little over an hour of gameplay, "Dead Space 3: Awakened" ends on a MASSIVE cliffhanger, the kind of plot twist that could redefine the franchise whether it leads into the next DLC or the inevitable "Dead Space 4." In fact, the end, while it comes too soon, may be the best reason to play "Awakened" -- if it serves as a bridge for what comes next. Maybe this is just the warm-up to some truly essential DLC or a landmark version of "Dead Space 4" on the PS4. It's unlikely to be the final word on Isaac Clarke's saga. Whether or not it's incorporated into "DS" canon or ignored, it won't be the most memorable word either.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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