Dead Space Extraction
People who played the original 3rd-person action game on other platforms were moaning about this as were Wii-owners who didn’t want yet another “rails shooter,” but let me tell you this is one of very few titles that actually lives up to the promise of games as a viable storytelling media. Extraction plays out like a sci-fi horror film without a lot of edits and features some outstanding animation and creepy atmosphere.
The decision to move to a first person perspective, but take away camera control makes for a more cinematic feel without making the game more difficult to play (see Resident Evil with its cinematic camera angles that actively interfere in gameplay in its earliest incarnations). There’s only a few jump-out-of-your-seat moments, but Dead Space Extraction oozes tension because you never know when you’ll need to act against a new onslaught of horrors.
Use of technology that gives you the ability to remotely manipulate objects is a good way to logically justify grabbing pick-ups and provides a little help when ammo is low and there’s only crates to throw at the baddies. The use of mining tools to put up barricades as well as guns to blast everything in sight diversifies the action. Finally there are free-look moments in the game to find pick-ups – but often you’ll still need quick reflexes to get that weapon upgrade – and zero-g environments spice up affairs.
It’s a got a lot of variety for a gun game and not being able to move around freely never feels like a limitation due to the quality story on display. The action jumps between several characters – not all of whom have rosy futures. The closest thing in movie-land is Event Horizon, but that disappointing film falls far short of the story presented here. The world feels real and the dialogue and characterisations are quite good. The characters and relationships are developed to a degree rarely seen in modern film (there’s actually a first act!) and it’s this that really makes the game shine. It’s all carried forward by an excellent cast of voice actors whose emotions are conveyed by some fantastic facial animation. The visuals are certainly among the best on the Wii.
Replay value is ample with numerous branching paths to explore in the 10 chapters as well as three difficulty levels on top of the default Normal (which provides a decent level of challenge on its own). In addition to the story mode there are challenge modes to unlock where you’re trying to mow-down as many enemies as possible, and a bonus multi-part virtual comic book (complete with excellent voice-over) that tells the story before and surrounding events in the game.
There’s some language as you would expect in a Certificate 16 film, but the violence gives this an 18 so it’s not for the kiddies by any means. If you like horror games (or a good horror yarn), it’s a must-have. Personally I cannot wait for a sequel and as long as the quality of story and presentation is maintained I’d be thrilled if EA continued this series in the same format – it’s really that good.
New Rally-X (Virtual Console Arcade)
Another classic game from Namco. This is an update to the original Rally-X and is noticeably superior by virtue of having a more accessible difficulty curve. Like other Namco VCA titles you can remap the joypad layout (although there is only one button) and change the screen settings – though Namco still doesn’t have adjustable difficulty in its VCA titles outside of the scores required to earn extra lives. Racing around trying to get the flags before being rammed by the red cars is still good fun and the emulation is quality, though experienced players will find the difficulty a little on the easy side. If you’re a fan (and have a Japanese Wii) it’s definitely worth it!