While most people are talking about the fate of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, I think it's a good idea to switch gears and explore the idea of a whole new frontier. Hideo Kojima is no longer shackled to pumping out MGS games, where does he go now?
Underrated Game: Dead Space Extraction
Dead Space is a cool franchise, but it has a few underrated entries. Did you ever play that light gun shooter on the Wii? Maybe I should narrow it down. Did you ever play that Dead Space light gun shooter on the Wii? Of course you didn’t! It was a Dead Space light gun shooter on the Wii! What a ridiculous idea! A survival horror game put on rails; and not only that but a game series well known for its visual prowess, put on the weakest system of the generation! How did that meeting even begin? But, as is often the case, the ideas that seem mad at first are often the most genius.
Genius is a strong word; it turned out to be pretty good.
Gameplay wise, it’s nothing you wouldn’t expect to see in a game of its genre. You point at the screen and then shoot your gun at approaching enemies. The light gun shooter is a genre that has been well and truly tested, refined to a science over the years. It is the little elements of Dead Space they managed to slip into Extraction that made it stand out. The most obvious of which is the inclusion of the Kinesis module. In the original game, kinesis allowed you to pick up objects and throw them, much akin to the Gravity Gun from Half Life 2. Its function in Extraction remains more or less the same. There aren’t many objects to throw at enemies, but its main use is to collect the various items scattered throughout the stages. The Stasis module also made a return, the function of which is surprisingly to put enemies into a short stasis. Neither of these changes the moment to moment gameplay all that much. Deciding which enemies to prioritize is a big part of the combat, so the stasis module helps you to order your fights, but other than that all it really does is keep the game universe consistent.
One particular facet of the original Dead Space that received a lot of critical praise was the lack of any heads up display. Visceral games managed to incorporate all the traditional metres of Health and Ammo right into the player characters design, making the game a much more immersive experience. Unfortunately, this is one thing that Extraction could not circumnavigate. I appreciate that it would have been more or less impossible to do due to the change in perspective from third person to first. But it is a shame considering how great it was before.
Considering this, the gameplay is pretty consistent with the Dead Space style, even with the genre switch. Yes the original game is a survival horror, and this is a light gun shooter, but it still feels like I’m playing a game in the same universe. Dead Space is not a game that builds tension over time like Silent Hill or Condemned, the horror in Dead Space is loud and in your face. The designers want you to feel constantly pressured, they want you to make mistakes with your inventory and fumble and stall, because the second of stalling is all the enemies need to close the distance. It’s fast pace and panic inducing and Extraction follows suit. The benefit of having it on rails is, they can tailor every encounter to best make you sweat. They could, but the amount of equipment you get is a bit too much for my taste, even so they can be very tense shoot-outs, especially in the late game.
If you’re a Dead Space fan and you passed up this experience, you really have no excuse (also no excuse to pass on Dead Space 3). The gameplay is consistent with its predecessor as hard as it may be to believe; and those juicy engineer weapons you love so much are all there in force. The story is nice and gives a lot of context to the Ishimura incident Isaac deals with after Extraction concludes. Not only that, but the Dead Space 2 DLC pack Severed works as a sequel to some of the characters from this game. If you’re looking for the total Dead Space experience, then Extraction will deliver. The game is pretty cheap these days if you want to pick up the Wii version. There is also a HD version of the game available for download on the PlayStation Network. If you have the move controller and are a bit of a graphics snob, seek it out, but bear in mind it doesn’t contain as much content.