Marked for death
Dead Space 3 takes up the tale of deep space mining engineer Isaac Clarke three years after the events of Dead Space 2.
At the start of the game, Clarke is in a bad way, abandoned by his lover Ellie and in hiding from the state. Haunted by memories of his past encounters with the Necromorphs – dead humans transformed into bloodthirsty monsters by a strange alien artefact known as the Marker – Clarke seems psychologically unstable and about to unravel... until he is visited by Robert Norton and John Carver, officers of the Earth Defence Force.
Norton and Carver inform Clarke that they need his help to locate the missing Ellie, and he agrees to join the hunt – but the mission is threatened from the start. The sinister Unitology cult, intent on overthrowing the state, sends soldiers after Clarke and his allies, who soon become aware that deadly danger is behind as well as in front of them.
From its breathtaking cinematic intro to its explosive finale, Dead Space 3 is a sci-fi tour de force with a plot that will sweep you along at a breakneck pace. New shocks and surprises await you at every turn and often you'll find yourself holding your breath, desperate to find out if Clarke and his handlers can survive long enough to find Ellie and destroy the Marker once and for all...
Over the course of the Dead Space series, engineer Isaac Clarke has experienced more than his fair share of brutality, bloodshed and outright terror. The grizzled survivor of several Necromorph outbreaks, he's suffered lasting trauma and been treated for schizophrenia; now, as the darkest horrors of space begin to close in on him once more, his mind begins to reel. Clarke's psychological instability adds an inspired dash of uncertainty to a plot already laden with suspense – faced with so much fear and brutality, can his damaged mind be fully trusted?
Clarke's main allies in the race to save the universe are Captain Robert Norton and Sergeant John Carver, Earth Defence Force bruisers whose penchant for obliterating alien life forms matches Clarke's own. Together they're an intimidating trio – but are they strong enough to take on swarms of undead horrors and a psychotic religious faction? That depends on your skill with an explosive buzz saw launcher.
As the game's plot twists and turns, you'll encounter dozens of additional characters, all with their own motives and desires. Destinies entwine, danger spreads, and soon it becomes clear that the ghastly Necromorphs and fanatical Unitologists are only part of the problem: treachery and betrayal are the most lethal threats of all...
Clarke's mission takes him to some of the most sinister reaches of deep space, where evil things lurk in wait for the unwary and a sense of creeping dread is never far away. Blood curdling shocks abound, and it's a sign of the developer's expertise that the suspense never comes at the cost of action. Fast and frantic combat is the order of the day, with legions of rotting Necromorphs queuing up to be blasted by all manner of mind-blowing weapons.
One of the game's most exciting features is the freedom it gives you to develop your own custom arsenal. As you cut a bloody swathe through deserted spacecraft and hostile planets, you can collect items and equipment dropped by dying foes. These can be used to build and modify weapons – so if you want to weld a grenade launcher to a plasma cutter, there's nothing to stop you. You can also dismember undead enemies with well-placed shots then use their body parts to finish them off. It all amounts to some gloriously creative destruction – and means you'll never be stuck for new ways to deal out death.
When your guns stop blazing for a moment, there are puzzles to solve, artillery turrets to storm and beautifully rendered environments to explore. One minute you're stalking through an eerily abandoned space frigate, the next you're jetting through a cosmic abyss or abseiling up frozen cliffs to face off against jaw-dropping monsters with a hunger for human flesh.
Everything from the tiniest gobbet of flesh to the grandest starscape looks and sounds stunningly cinematic, and that's one of the best things about Dead Space 3: it's like stepping into one of your favourite sci-fi flicks and finding yourself thrilled and chilled on a blockbuster scale.
Dead Space 3 boasts a superb co-operative multiplayer mode that allows you and a friend to team up as Isaac Clarke and Sergeant Carver.
Each man has his own demons to battle and it's here that the psychological effects of all the horror really kick in, with each character having to cover the other when he's suddenly overcome by shock or terrifying hallucinations. It's a great way to build on the sophisticated storyline and adds amazing emotional depth to the experience.
The multiplayer mode also opens up new side-missions and areas, making for tons of fresh thrills and more slavering Necromorphs to annihilate. As the tension rises to nerve-shredding new heights, the bond between you and your buddy becomes all-important – so be sure to choose your ally wisely. You don't want to end up as just another hunk of flesh in a Necromorph's stomach...