Dead Space: Extraction Review: Pure Fun on Rails

Dead Space: Extraction is another chapter in the horror-laden universe Visceral Games created back in 2008. Extraction is a prequel to the first Dead Space, and shows the gruesome details of what happened aboard both the colony and Ishimura before Isaac and his crew got there. Originally made for the Wii, this rail shooter from 2009 was ported to the PlayStation 3 in 2011 with incredible results – and an HD facelift. Surprisingly, Extraction isn’t just another rail shooter.

Platforms: PS3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Visceral Games, Eurocom
Genre: Survival Horror, Dismemberment On Rails
Release Date: January 25, 2011
ESRB Rating: Mature

Dead Space: Extraction first came out two years ago on the Wii, but EA announced a PS3 port at E3 2010. It comes packaged with the Dead Space 2 Limited Edition as well as the Collector’s Edition, but can also be purchased by itself on the PSN for $14.99. I opted to get the Collector’s Edition, mainly because I wanted the replica Plasma Cutter, but it was an added bonus to get to play more Extraction. I had played it on the Wii at PAX Prime before it came out, and while I had enjoyed it, I didn’t get to experience it any further because I didn’t own a Wii at that point. I was looking forward to seeing what Visceral Games had cooked up, but I wasn’t sure what this remake had to offer beyond an HD upgrade.

After beating Dead Space 2, I busted out my Move and Nav controllers and dove right into the action. I was expecting a game with little to no plot, something that would basically just move me from one section full of Necromorphs to another – that it would be more about cutting off limbs and less about having a real plotline. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was the story coherent, but the characters were likable, and the entire thing fit very nicely into the overarching timeline of the Dead Space universe.

Extraction begins just after the Marker has been unearthed and is being prepared for the Ishimura. You play as Sam Caldwell, a member of the crew responsible for getting the Marker off of Aegis VII. Predictably, things go immediately wrong, and you end up in a dark room full of people trying to attack you. They were just regular people gone crazy, but I still cut their limbs off – old habits die hard. After that chapter, you slowly build up a party of four – Detective Nathan McNeill, security officer Gabriel Weller, “Dead Space Girl” Lexine Murdoch (Sam’s girlfriend), and super executive Warren Eckhardt who is here representing the mining company.

There are so many small things and so much amazing attention to detail in this game. You visit many rooms that look awfully familiar, but Isaac Clarke hasn’t gotten to see them yet. There’s also a character you’ll recognize immediately and, if you’re as immersed in this world as I am, it’ll be a painful experience. Additionally, you get to hear more of the mythology of the Unitologists and get more of the story of the Marker they worship and how it fits into the story.

The gameplay is very typical of a rail shooter – point, shoot, kill; lather, rinse, repeat. But the new thing here is that Necromorphs only die when you cut their limbs off, and the enemies in this game like to jump around a lot. It can be a little tough at first, but once you get each type down, it becomes easier and easier, especially as you get the hang of the guns. As always, the Plasma Cutter was my preferred gun – with the flick of a wrist, you can initiate the alternate fire, switching back and forth to cut off legs and arms.

Kinesis and stasis are still here – pressing the “Move” button allows you to grab things around the environment, like ammo, health packs, stasis packs, new weapons, gun upgrades, and text, audio, and video logs. But you have to be quick – since you can’t control where you’re looking, you’re at the mercy of the camera, which can be insufferably fast at times. If you’re not paying attention, you could miss a whole little side room full of ammo and other blinking goodies.

While there are only three boss fights, each is significant and feels very satisfactory. The final boss fight in particular, while difficult, was much more fun once I realized which gun I needed to use. Also enjoyable are the characters that pop in and out of the story, and the shifts in perspective for whichever character you’re playing at the time. You get to play as several different people, wondering whether or not you’re destined to make it to the next chapter or not.

The game is short, but not criminally so, and felt like a solid length to me. Once I was done, I turned immediately to the challenge rooms. While the main game has a great story, fun puzzles, and excellently spaced fighting segments, the challenge rooms are just pure, brainless, dismembering entertainment. There are several maps to choose from, and wave after wave of Necromorphs attack while you frantically try to take out as many of them as you can while you grab all the items around you. It’s a great way to blow off some steam, and the leaderboards – which are a brand new addition to the PS3 version – offer some challenge to more ambitious players.

On top of the new leaderboards, the PlayStation version also has full Trophy support, including a Platinum Trophy. This is nothing to sneeze at for a game that sells for $14.99 on the PSN. There are some good ones, too – I didn’t have a chance to give in to my completionist urges, but I tried to get all the Skill trophies, which were a fun challenge. There are even trophies for beating leaderboard scores, so get your trigger hand ready! And speaking of trigger hands, you can also play this game entirely with the DualShock controller – while it’s really fun to play with the Move, it’s not necessary if you don’t own one yet. It’s not quite the same experience, but it’s still a lot of fun.

Dead Space: Extraction looks great, sounds frightening, and has a lot of satisfying gameplay. If you’re into the Dead Space universe, this is a no-brainer – you should absolutely own this game. Anyone with a PS3 should definitely get their hands on the Limited Edition to get Dead Space 2 and Extraction in one perfect package. If you’re a fan of the survival horror genre but haven’t had a chance to get into the Dead Space games yet, Extraction is a great introduction, but I would still recommend starting at the first Dead Space so that way you get all the inside jokes so carefully prepared for you. No matter where you are in your Dead Space education, I can say with conviction that I consider this to be another great game in a must-own series.

Review Disclosure: A retail copy of Dead Space: Extraction was purchased by Warp Zoned for the purposes of this review.

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Nicole Kline is Warp Zoned's Senior Editor. She first began preparing for the job by climbing a milk crate to play Centipede in an arcade. You can find her on PSN under the name toitle or you can email her at nicole AT warpzoned DOT com.

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