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Dead Space 3 came out not too long ago, and I've already sunk about 50 hours into it. It made its share of missteps, but my overall assessment of it was that, despite corporate meddling and a clunky story, its core mechanics have never been more refined, which turns out to be the game's saving grace. It's a game with a lot of potential, but there are some real head-scratching moments that make me think something is missing. With the power of patching, there are plenty of ways Visceral can make this amazing thrill ride twice as good. So without further ado, here are my quick fixes for Dead Space 3.
Crafting and Customisation
I love the crafting in this game. I've spend more time creating weapons and thinking about how I'm going to dismember Necromorphs than I do actually dismembering them. It's my absolute favourite part of the game, and if any part of this list made it into the game, I'd want it to be these suggestions.
First and foremost, we need to be able to name our weapons and blueprints. It honestly feels like they forgot to put this feature in, especially when every blueprint you make is called "Custom Blueprint" and every weapon in the game is labelled generically "Constructed Weapon". Wouldn't it make more sense if we could give our badass babies a fitting name like the rest of the pre-made blueprints in the game? Not only that, but it would make crafting feel even more personal, not to mention more convenient.
Instead of simply having a random finish for MK-V parts, why not let us add our own custom skins to weapons like we can in in Call of Duty: Black Ops and Far Cry 3? This would add even more depth to the customisation, and give us even more reason to hunt down that extra scrap metal. Oh, and speaking of which, me sell my MK-II and MK-V parts. I hate hoarding.
Cover System and Shooting Mechanics
Don't get me wrong; the shooting mechanics are excellent... when fighting Necromorphs. The game simply isn't built around shooting dudes with guns. Dead Space 3 lacks the fluid mechanics of a third person shooter, as well as the most basic of features.
At its best, the quasi-cover-based shooting segments of this game are stiff, clunky, and uninspired. Compare this to Uncharted 3 or Max Payne 3. The protagonists of these game have fast and fluid movements. They have to. They can roll, dodge, run, jump, and quickly snap to cover. Can Isaac Clarke do any of these things? Nope. He can crouch, but that's useless. He can roll, which is sometimes useful. He can squat next to cover if you aim next to a low wall, and that's about as deep as the cover mechanics go. God forbid you have to aim around a corner.
There are a few basic features they could add to make these segments more manageable. First of all, we need to be able to aim whilst crouching. There's really no point in crouching if you automatically stand up to aim. Second, we need the option to switch shoulders whilst aiming. This isn't really a problem when fighting Necromorphs, but it can be problematic in a firefight.
Cooperative Optional Missions and Carver's Characterisation
I really enjoyed co-op, but it isn't always easy to find a buddy to play with. My first playthrough felt a little... empty, like pieces were missing. Turns out, there was.
Without playing the co-op optional missions, you're missing out on Carver's characterisation. Unless you have a friend online who wants to play Dead Space 3 with you, or you're willing to risk playing with random people, you miss out on these parts of the story. This becomes especially apparent later in the game, when Carver has a bigger role in the story, and he starts to reference previous dialogue you never had, because you're playing solo.
The solution to this is simple in prospect, but likely very complex in terms of programming. I'm talking of course, about a buddy AI. Now, if we had one the whole game, that'd be fine, because unlike Resident Evil 5, it wouldn't be forced upon the player. That said, introducing an AI Carver would be difficult for the entire game. So if not the entire game, why not just for co-op missions themselves? It's a little disheartening when the game blocks your progress and your desire to explore because you're playing alone.
This one ties into the above suggestions, but it's enough to warrant its own section. This isn't so much a problem with Dead Space 3 as it is the gaming industry as a whole. More and more, we're seen this prevalent trend of excluding splitscreen multiplayer from video games. Why? This should be an essential feature for any co-op enabled game. If my friend is at my house, he shouldn't have to go home and get on his system just so we can play together. I appreciate that I can play with anyone from anywhere in the world, but too often video game developers forget that we like to actually play with people in person. You know, face to face?
It's a crime that this is excluded from any game, and Dead Space 3 is no exception. Patch it in, or make it available as a free download.
There's Always Peng!
This is one of the small things that really bothered me. In traditional Dead Space fashion, a Peng Treasure is hidden somewhere in the game. In Dead Space and Dead Space 2, these were extremely valuable. In Dead Space 3, it's utterly worthless. Did someone forget to program in a sell value? What's the point of letting me sell it if I get nothing for it? This is a small problem sure, which also means its something that can be easily rectified with a patch.
Slaying in Style
Isaac is an efficient engineer and proficient slayer of Necromorphs. He's an all-around badass who laughs in the face of death, dementia, and giant alien moon monsters. That's not all, though. He doesn't just kick ass and take names... he does it in style. Or at least, he used to.
Whether or not you like certain suits ultimately falls under personal taste. However, I think there's always room for more customisation and variation. Being the suit whore that I am, I immediately sprung for all the suits I could buy via DLC. At first, I thought they were pretty cool. Later, I found out they were really just variations on the suits that were originally in-game. I know Dead Space 3 isn't the first to be a perpetrator of this practice, but it should have been the last. Instead of giving us largely the same content with a slightly different paint job. Please, when doing future suits, give us something more substantial. Having a radically different appearance every other level keeps things fresh.
In addition, there didn't feel like there was as many suits this time around. In Dead Space 2, you got a whole bunch of suits for doing various things. Completing Hard Core mode got you the sweet soldier suit, beating Zealot netted you the Arctic suit, and playing in New Game Plus revealed Elite versions of the different variants in the game, provided you could find them. I would love to see this game do something similar. The more the merrier, right?
Instead of uncovering cool suits throughout the game, and actually having to pay for them, the game just occasionally gives you a freebie as you progress. I'm fine with freebies, but where's the fun in just being handed everything? Sure, you can unlock a few suits by completing all of the optional missions, or finding everything, but where's the exploration in that? At the very least, offering more variety with future suits released as DLC would alleviate this.
One way to do this is simply to offer more suits. Here are some suggestions to get you started Visceral:
- The Vintage Suit. This was a really unique suit, and it was really fun to float around like Neil Armstrong in this NASA-inspired suit.
- The Advanced Suit. Isaac's badass armour from the second game was shown pre-release, but was cut before the game came out. Don't be like that. Don't show us cool stuff only to take it away before release. Don't be like Aliens: Colonial Marines.
- Something resembling the Hacker Suit. Forget what I said about "personal taste". This is the coolest suit in the game. Fact, not opinion. Isaac wears some more casual attire near the beginning of the game, so where's my Hacker RIG? Something like this would quickly become a fan favourite.
- Anything with a see-through visor. I believe we saw a couple of those in Dead Space: Downfall, so why not? It'd be cool to see Isaac's face during regular gameplay.
- All of Carver's variants. Some of these are really cool, and it's a shame I can only use these suits when playing online. At the very least, I'd like to get my hands on the Security Suit in solo. This would effectively double the amount of suits we get in the single player campaign.
Here's another suggestion. To get the most bang for our buck, why not let us customise our suits with different colours and paint jobs? Instead of slapping a new skin unto an old suit and reselling it, give us a palette of colours to choose from and let us re-skin it ourselves. I wouldn't mind paying a dollar (or five) to something that gives extra depth to the customisation in the game.
What's better? A gold-version of the Extra Vehicular Suit, or the option to simply take the EVA suit, and make it gold, or any other colour you choose? It's a small thing sure, but it would go a long way to make the game a more varied and personal experience.
One last thing about suits. Why don't they do anything? In Dead Space 2, suits came with their own perks. This wasn't just to give you an extra edge in combat, it also made each suit worth wearing. These small additions made me actually consider what to wear, and made simple customisation more strategic. Even if these things made no difference, it felt like it did, and that's what made it all worthwhile. Simply add a passive bonus to each suit such as "+5% stasis" or "+10% damage with x weapon type", and you'll add even more depth to the game, on top of what was previously mentioned.
User Generated Content
Generally, user generated content is a breeding ground for faecal matter and other phallus-esque constructs, but if you're willing to wade through the shit, you can find real gems.
Going back to what I said about naming and personalising your weapons, this would be a great way to complement that. Allow us to make our own unique weapon blueprints to share online, each with their own custom paint job, name, and description. This will add more creative depth to the game than ever before.
Another small thing that is oddly missing from Dead Space 3 is the ability to play the music from your hard drive in-game. This was also absent in the original, only to be latter added in the sequel. This is a feature that more games on the PS3 need, Dead Space especially. Hell, I even made my own playlist for the game.
I really like the addition of the Weapon Crafting Arena; it suits the game's crafting system. I just wish there was a little more to it.
There is more however, that Visceral can do to a make this a better hub for players. First off, it'd be helpful if we could access our Suit Kiosk here. It’s literally one room over. If not, just put a suit in the same room. This allows us to check out our suits and change them when we can’t reach one in solo, since they are so scarce. In addition, it'd be nice we could access our inventory (don't know why we can't) and allow our friend to come in as well.
Here me out here. I know the multiplayer wasn't very great in Dead Space 2. But the combat in this game is a lot of fun. I'd like to see some additional cooperative missions available in Dead Space 3.
There are a lot of ways Visceral can go about this. Here are some ideas off the top of my head:
- A horde mode. Shooting Necromorphs is fun, so give us a mode without any filler, atmosphere, story, or cutscenes. Give us a mode where we can cut right to the good stuff. Pit one or more players against waves of increasing difficulty, with more powerful enemies being thrown against them each wave. Allow us to take our saved inventory in and gear up at a safe room with a bench and suit kiosk. Reward the player with resources, ration seals, weapon parts, circuits, etc.
- Endless survival. Simple. Start the player off with one or two weapons, or let them choose like you can in Dead Space: Extraction. Then, simple have a timer count up until the player's demise as you pit them against more and more powerful enemies. This one isn't so much about getting through rounds as it is seeing how long you can last. Like my sex life.