Humanity is sacred. Human beings are characterised by the emotions that flow within them, but yet humans are fragile beings. The line between life and death can be broken in an instant, and extract fear from deep within. Dead Space: Extraction finds a group of humans walking the fine line between life and death in deep space, where curiosity has pushed the limits too far, and only a few will survive.
Earth’s resources have been exhausted, and humanity has had to move into the depths of space to survive. Aegis VII is a planet far from Earth where miners have discovered something alien: a large mysterious statue called "The Marker" by human scientists and Unitoligist (Marker worshippers), and their curiosity has The Marker being extracted from the depths of the planet for further research. Unbeknownst to the scientist is that The Marker holds alien power that will soon bring terror to mankind unlike any seen before.
Stepping into the boots of Sam Caldwell, a miner on Aegis VII, at first seems as if nothing is wrong: the Marker has been brought to the surface and waiting extraction. Looking directly through his eyes, the camera twists and turns with his head and shakes with each step, giving the feeling that the player actually is Sam Caldwell. Approaching the Marker and prepping it for extraction, suddenly the Marker becomes activated, glowing red and creating a loud high pitched noise; everyone starts falling down while strange symbols flash across the screen, and an explosion goes off in the distance. Sam and his crew are sent to investigate the explosion, only to find a crazed miner fatally stabbing a scientist, and forced to kill him when he tries to attack. Within minutes Sam’s crewmates start babbling nonsense and he starts hearing voices, but who is it, and what is going on? Why is everyone going crazy, and is any of this real? The psychological mind trip that is Dead Space: Extraction has just begun, and from here on it’s one wicked ride!
Dead Space: Extraction originally released on Wii and is a prequel to the original Dead Space, which is a well-received third-person survival horror shooter, with a Metacritic score of 88 on PS3. Dead Space boasted superb graphics and even better sound, bringing an excellent shooter that was every bit as terrifying as it was intense. Dead Space became well known because of the Necromorphs: humans that were mutated into terrifying alien creatures that are most easily killed by shooting off their limbs. Extraction changes the game play to a first-person light gun shooter, but is still very much a true Dead Space game infested with Necromorphs. Looking directly through the eyes of multiple characters throughout the game, movement is handled automatically, but yet it never feels on-rails because of the excellent camera work and realistic movements the characters make.
Using either Move or DualShock controls, gunplay is handled in typical point-and-shoot light gun fashion with an on-screen cursor. DualShock controls are acceptable, but Move controls are excellent here, with pinpoint precision and great use of minimal motion control inputs. Weapons range from a standard pistol to a telekinesis-controlled spinning saw blade, and all have powerful alternate firing methods, which are cleverly handled by simply twisting the Move controller on its side and firing with the trigger. Melee attacks are handled as expected by swiping Move back and forth, and the Move button doubles as the action button when needed, and also can be used to pull in items with telekinesis. Stasis, used to slow down enemies, is handled with the Circle button, while reloading and weapon changes are handled with the Square and Triangle buttons. If needed the Navi can be used to balance some of the many inputs into two hands instead of one, but we prefer using just the Move controller itself, as the excellent button layout of the Move controller generally negates the need for the second controller. Move's quick aiming and pinpoint accuracy are a perfect fit in Extraction, and make blasting through the large waves of attacking Necromorphs manageable and fun.
Extraction on PS3 has received a graphical update to HD from its Wii counterpart, and fixes one of the few issues the Wii version has, improving the draw distances allowing for the ability to easily shoot far-off enemies. The graphics are just updated though, and not remastered, so while the graphics are good here, they don’t compare to the visuals in Dead Space 2 by any means. There are a few graphical glitches here and there, but overall the graphics look impressive throughout.
Extraction is a game with a deep story, and with a great deal of dialogue. The voice acting throughout the game is top-notch, and the in-game characters that are constantly interacting with each other and have lifelike animations. Together it creates a feel of the characters being real human beings instead of just characters inside a video game. Excellent audio presentation adds to the aura of realism as the sounds of crewmates breathing deeply with fear, pain when hurt or even compassion for the others can be heard. Characters are constantly talking and trying to find ways to survive the ordeal, and ultimately escape, with plenty of half-heard noises as creatures move around out of sight keeping nerves constantly on edge throughout the game. Dead Space veterans will recognise some of the characters from the original game, and even some of the locations, as all of the events in Extraction are immediately prior to the beginning of Dead Space. Not only is Extraction great for fleshing out the story behind Dead Space, but as an entry point for those new to the series as well.
Extraction is an extremely intense game throughout, and in the true nature of the survival horror genre ammo conservation is key. The Rivet Gun is a single shot, slow-firing gun, but is the only weapon with unlimited ammo, while other guns have limited ammo scattered throughout to be picked up. When the Necromorphs attack in packs, and the intensity builds, blasting inaccurate shots and running out of ammo can be deadly. Most alternate firing modes require multiple bullets at once and can exhaust ammo reserves quickly, and accurately shooting off limbs and conserving ammo is crucial to survival, as well as acquiring gun upgrades along the way.
The game offers a lengthy campaign mode that can be played in both single and two player co-op. Completion of the campaign mode unlocks new weapons and upgrades, as well as unlocking the Challenge Mode stages. These stages eliminate the story telling and dialogue, letting you progress through sections of the main game in typical on-rails shooter style, where enemies constantly attack in waves. This mode is tough, and will challenge the best to achieve the top scores. Full Trophy support is cleverly implemented, and brings even more replay value to the game, especially for those looking to acquire the revered Platinum Trophy.
Dismissing Dead Space: Extraction as a stripped down version of Dead Space is a mistake. Extraction is a fully fleshed out title that brings the story behind Dead Space to life in great detail. The unique play style lands the game as one of the premiere on-rails shooters available on the market with its intense gameplay and deep character interaction. For a limited time, Extraction is free with the purchase of the PS3 version of Dead Space 2, or available as a standalone title on the PlayStation Store.
Regardless of how the game is acquired, Extraction lands as one of the definitive titles for PlayStation Move. This mature psychological thrill ride is not to be missed, especially for fans of the series. Just be prepared, because stepping onto Aegis VII is stepping one foot into the grave.