Dead Space: Extraction
Adding to the short list of Wii titles not concerned with family-friendly themes is Dead Space: Extraction, a game largely concerned with shooting the limbs off of unholy and horribly mutated hordes of resurrected human corpses. Serving as a prequel to 2008’s excellent Dead Space, this rail-shooter stays true to the original’s atmosphere and inserts itself neatly into the franchise’s canon.
The game begins with a small team of miners on the Aegis VII colony moving the monolithic Red Marker, a powerful artefact revered by the insidious Church of Unitology. It’s at this point that the colony’s inhabitants begin to go bat-shit crazy, hallucinating, committing suicide and going on berserk rampages. The character you initially control is one of the miners, Sam Caldwell, who experiences the horror of the Necromorph genesis first-hand, fighting off frightening visions as well as his increasingly afflicted comrades. The plot advances at a decent pace and the moment when the colony becomes fully gripped by the Red Marker dementia is truly chilling, like that really horrible bit in Event Horizon. As the levels progress, you’re swapped around to various characters so the narrative perspective is effectively developed as you learn important things that the others are ignorant of.
The game’s primary action consists of using either the Wii remote/Zapper to aim and fire weapons/kinesis and the nunchuck to control stasis and melee attacks. Whilst kinesis is unlimited, stasis is finite, but there’s no way to see how much you have at one time. As with Dead Space, the hideous Necromorphs must be strategically dismembered (take limbs off) rather than put away with head and body-shots and it can take a few levels before you overcome hundreds of hours of ingrained shooting protocol. Using the Wii remote to remove enemies’ limbs can be a decent challenge and is also very satisfying (if you enjoy that sort if thing). You’re able to hold four weapons at once and the rapid selection is performed instantly by the flicking the analogue stick on the nunchuk, which makes for a much smoother transition than that in Dead Space. All the weapons from the original are present and there’s also a few new ones in the form of the inexhaustible rivet gun, electricity-discharging arc-welder and the P-Sec pistol.
Aside from all the limb-lopping, other challenges include guiding an electrical current through a variety of health-zapping circuits, often whilst being assailed by hordes of the sci-fi undead. Should you be overcome, you’ll often come face to face with a snarling mutant and then be forced to frantically shake the Wii remote until the blighter refrains from eating your face off. Swinging the nunchuk in a similarly panicked manner acts as a melee attack that both blocks enemies’ attacks, cuts through various fleshy obstacles throughout the game, but, unfortunately, not actual adversaries themselves. Another point of contention is that, being on the rails, picking up and smashing crates can be highly stressful as once the crate’s loot is exposed, your view will be whipped away, leaving the ammo/health pack to remain alone, enshrouded in a dark nightmare for all of silicon eternity. Having said that, you are occasionally allowed to free-look when there’s an abundance of supplies around, but this only lasts a few seconds – it would’ve been infinitely better if this ‘free-look time’ was able to be stored up and then used at the player’s own discretion.
The game is fairly short at just ten levels, but attempting them on each of the four difficulty settings provides an adequate challenge and definite cause for replayabilty. Notable highlights occur in level nine where, without spoiling anything, you’re put through your paces in a variety of unpleasant situations which call for quick reflexes, good-timing and a tenacious resolve, especially on the boss creatures. Indeed, the game’s bosses could easily hold their own with those encountered in Dead Space; gargantuan masses of tentacled, rotting cephalopod-horror that shrug off your arsenal and swallow you whole. There’s also a familiar challenge mode where you’re tasked with cutting down multiple waves of Necromorphs until they just run out of corpses to reanimate. Dead Space: Extraction is a quality Wii game that provides a well-paced narrative, plenty of motion-control-based challenges, a few scares and lots of bloody horror-carnage.