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Dead Space Extraction: Dismemberment = Good Times

Dead Space Extraction for the Wii is actually a good game, honest. It's unfortunate that many people may have written this game off because of it being an on-rails shooter and not a third person shooter like it's older brother Dead Space. I've tried out other on-rail shooter such as Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles (not fun), House of the Dead Overkill (fun) on Wii and I can safely say that Extraction (awesome) is the best on-rails shooter I've played in a long long time. When you play the game you get the feeling that EA and Visceral games did not rush this game out the door like a lot of other Wii games. Visceral Games took an old genre and expanded upon it in a good way in Extraction. Here's why.

Story and Presentation: Extraction tells the story of the events that lead up to the first Dead Space. The basic outline here is that humans in the future are mining planets with giant spaceships for resources. Before that can happen they establish large colonies on these planets to prep them for mining years in advance. On this particular planet the colony finds an artifact that is called "The Marker". No one knows the Markers origin but one similar Marker had been found hundreds of years earlier on Earth and a religion called "Unitology" was formed around worshiping these artifacts. The colony on this mining planet is ordered by the Unitologist to remove the marker and get it ready for a epic spaceship ride back to Earth. The game begins with you as one of engineers who is front and center when The Marker is being extracted right out of the ground. When the engineers try moving it something goes wrong and people start turning into psychopathic  murdering monsters that are called "Necromorphs". From this point on your along for the ride.

The story is told from the perspective of different characters and is presented in a way that more resembles a movie. The game uses shaky cam effects, excellent sound and lighting effects to enhance the atmosphere and never takes you out of the feeling that your viewing the world from your current characters perspective. You do end up following a core group of 4 people trying to escape the planet alive and get to the mining ship Ishimura for safety. What makes this on rails shooter more engaging is that the story is told mostly through the characters as your playing the game. There is almost constant dialogue, giving you bits of the story along the way. The voice acting in the game is actually quite good and there were only a few moment where the voice acting seemed to be a little off and doesn't match the situation 100%. The story helps keep the game moving along and it doesn't make you feel like your just blasting waves upon waves of enemies. Your characters always have an objective throughout the levels and your are asked to do more in the game than just shooting, such as hacking door circuits or bolting debris against doorways to keep the Necromorphs at bay. The story and presentation all comes together well and convincingly. Best of all the games looks great. I was impressed by the amount of detail they got up and running on the Wii. The game does suffer from blurry textures here and there and some of the characters models look a little off, but if you played the original Dead Space you will feel right at home. The one thing you do lose with the on-rails format is that the game lacks a lot of the scare factor that the first Dead Space had. Not being in control of the character movements and being forced to confront the enemies head on all the time takes the fear right out of the game. There were only a few times I got startled by something in the game and I decided it was time to turn my lights back on.

Game Play: What makes playing Extraction fun to play is the enemies you fight and the arsenal of weapons you have to dismember them with. The dismemberment of enemies is a gameplay mechanic that was a big part of the first DeadSpace and translates perfectly in Extraction. The weapons (each has an alternate firing mode) in the Dead Space universe are rather unique so shooting and slicing off the Necromorphs legs or arms to slow them down is quite entertaining and each enemy has different weaknesses that you learn to exploit. You main weapon is called the Rivet Gun that has unlimited ammo but it's not very effective when surrounded by enemies. For the games better weapons your likely going to be low on ammo, so your best bet is to not go around wasting it and being strategic with your blasting. This will become a necessity, especially in the games harder difficulty levels where the enemies are quite ruthless. One of my favorite weapons is called the "Ripper" and basically it's a gun that shoots out a spinning saw blade. Where it gets interesting is once you shoot the blade you have control of the blade and with the Wiimote you can control its angle and push the blade closer or farther away from your self to reach enemies. If your good you can go in and surgically slice off limbs one by one, but I preferred the more haphazard method of swiping the blade across the screen and slicing of multiple enemies limbs at a time in a gory sound screeching mess. Good times. The only thing about the weapons that bothered me a little bit is that the aiming reticules on the screen do take up a good amount of screen space and it made it difficult to aim at first but once I got used to them it wasn't much of an issue.

On top of weapons the game also give you a few other abilities at your disposal. You have the ability to use a "stasis module" to freeze enemies in place, you can pick up objects with a "Telekinesis" item and throw them to stun enemies and you also have a glow stick that you can shake with the Wiimote to light up dark areas with a green eerie light. The glow stick mechanic makes for some interesting situations where you must decide to blast the oncoming Necromorphs or take the time to shake the glow stick to activate it. You can't shoot and shake at the same time people! Its just not possible. But I feel like they could have exploited this mechanic a bit more since it helped make the game more tense and they only let you use it a certain times in the levels.

What it comes down too is that the player has a lot more gameplay options than what you would normally find in a on-rails shooter. It's keep the game fresh and the action tense. The game take about 5-6 hours to beat so you do spend a good amount of time listening to the dialogue and watching the scenes play out than some people might like, but in the end I feel that it's necessary for the experience. If you really need that arcade style shooter action fix the game does provided a challenge mode where you just fight through 10 different levels fighting waves and waves of enemies nonstop for high scores. I can see a lot of people having fun with two players in this mode. The game also includes all 6 episodes of the Dead Space comic that are unlocked as you play the game that gives you even more details into the Dead Space Universe. Very cool.

As I was battling Necromorphs, I did ask myself, "Why isn't this a full fledged FPS like Metroid Prime 3 or Resident Evil 4?". If you can pull off Resident Evil 4 on the Wii this game shouldn't have been a problem. Granted there is a lot of effects and detail in the levels and maybe the Wii just wouldn't be able keep the frame rate up. But for me I feel like if the game was in a FPS format the Developers wouldn't have been able to tell the story in a cinematic way and keep the player in the middle of the story as its happening in real time. The game does an excellent job of making you feel like you're in the characters shoes. Frankly why would you bother putting it on the Wii in the first place as third person shooter when you could do it on the PS3 or XBox 360? I think the developers may have wanted to try a different approach to telling the story.

I personally enjoyed the game and had a good time playing it. I think if your a Dead Space fan with a Wii and anyone who has the slightest interest in on-rails shooter should give this game a shot and support Visceral Games. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by it. I was. For the rest of you this game just might never be up your alley and will wait for Dead Space 2.

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