Dead Space ExtractionESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
2 player cooperative (Nunchuk required only for player one)
Wii Zapper/Light Gun Compatible
Released last year to favorable reviews, Dead Space was a fresh take on the horror/action genre. Unfortunately for Wii fans the game was released only on competing consoles. Thankfully Dead Space Extraction fills this void in the form of a prequel to the original. This new story adds a unique control scheme for the Wii and a new viewpoint as well. How does it stack up? Extremely well in my opinion. If you want more details on what I thought read on for the gory details.
Extraction is probably the best looking Wii game that I've played to date. The game very much looks reflective of its bigger console brethren but at a lower resolution naturally. Overall the graphics have plenty of details and effects that really impressed me. I believe this can be partially attributed to the on-rail nature of the game, but that didn't matter to me as Extraction is dark and gritty looking and I loved it. I found myself commenting several times about just how good this game looks on the Wii. Body parts separate satisfyingly and head shots just have a feel that you just can't get using a controller. A game like this is all about creating a freaky atmosphere and the graphics help here big time. Overall I think that those who give this game a try will really be impressed with the visuals.
One of the things I appreciated most about the first Dead Space was how well the musical score added to the tension and atmosphere. Extraction for the Wii is no different. The musical score and sound effects are top notch and are a perfect example of just how much good sound and music can add to a game overall. Another high point in Extraction is the voice acting. In a game like this, voice acting is equally important in creating that tense atmosphere and the voice actors do a great job of sounding edgy, emotional, and afraid when they need to be. I play most of my Wii games through the TV speakers, so I can’t comment on the use of DPLII in this title, which the Wii supports.
Extraction is actually a prequel set three weeks prior to the events that transpired in the original Dead Space. The story follows four colonists on Aegis VII and their fight for survival in escaping an infection and the resulting Necromorphs. Extraction introduces players to a new character to the Dead Space narrative, the details of which I will let you figure out by playing the game as it's never fun to ruin a surprise.
Dead Space Extraction switches up the action from the third person viewpoint of the original to a first person view on the Wii. Before you start thinking it may be a full-on first person shooter, Extraction actually plays out as an on-rails shooter in the vein of such games as House of the Dead or Time Crisis. This change is a favorable one for the Wii and it allows it to excel in areas that I've not yet seen for most Wii titles. You do not control where you move or where you look during most parts of the game. There are some sections where you will be able to free look but they are far and few between. With this new aspect in mind, I found that there were a few sections where I would have liked more opportunity to explore more and use telekinesis to acquire ammo and stuff, but Extraction keeps you moving at a deliberate pace.
The transition to the on-rails style of gameplay on the Wii necessitates a new set of controls to take advantage of the Wii Remote. It also allows for some excellent tricks that lend themselves well to setting the atmosphere of the game. First and foremost are the controls. Extraction follows the lead of the original game in that to be effective in taking out enemies you must focus on their limbs to slow their attack before finishing them off. I found using the Wii Remote to do this allowed for greater precision than with a controller and a far greater sense of satisfaction. I actually preferred playing with the Wii Remote over using a controller. Rotating the Wii Remote 90 degrees to change the firing mode of the plasma cutter was too cool. That being said, aiming can be a little tough at times because of the game's camera as it frequently bobs to imitate your head movement. While this adds to the immersion factor it can make it slightly difficult to aim with precision at times. When you think about it though, it is probably accurate!
Extraction supports the Wii Zapper or other "light gun" attachments. While I didn't get the chance to test the game with such an accessory I think it would enhance the experience even more. Playing with just the Wii Remote felt a little lacking when I thought of the potential. It kind of felt like a Star Trek phaser which I always thought looked kind of wimpy when I was a kid. My only concern about using a gun accessory would be how the melee is handled as to do so you must shake the nunchuk.
If there is any negative it would be that the gameplay does get a little bit repetitive as the game progresses. Using stasis packs and telekinesis do help to add variety though, especially with the Wii Remote. As I played I found that Extraction plays less like a survival/horror and more like a horror/action title. While ammo usage and conservation is present it is not as big of a factor as it was in the original. As a more casual type of gamer I appreciated this approach, but survival/horror fans should take note of this. There are a few boss fights thrown in during the game for good measure too. Again, I won't spoil anything here but fans of horror movies will appreciate what I thought was a really cool way to end the game.
Dead Space Extraction really impressed me. Too often we see games dumbed down when they make their way to the Wii. It is nice to see a title like this on Nintendo’s console that is geared towards a mature audience. Let me make that point again, just because Extraction is on the Wii doesn't mean it is for kids as it is for mature eyes only. Overall the transition from third to first person is smooth and the on-rails gameplay really helps to make it a mature title as it captures the visual details that Dead Space is known for. This game is a worthy prequel regardless of console.