The over-indulgent verdict on Dead Space: Extraction is that it’s Dead Space with all the crap drained off. Aggravatingly backward fixed inventories are out, as are tiresome modular upgrades systems. You won’t be carting lots of precious semiconductors, depleted weapons and oxygen cylinders between Stores, as there’s no longer an in-game economy, or back-tracking across cavernous starship interiors, as the action’s now on rails, or, indeed, bothering to do anything other than point and shoot.
The trademark noisy pink mutants look, animate and fall to pieces much as they do in the Xbox 360 and PS3 original, predictable drops in texture quality and geometry aside. Human character animations, facial or otherwise, are just as impressive, but the starship and planetside environments are once again the biggest attractions, equal parts high-tech deathtrap and primeval cave, immaculate holographic displays floating against worn blood-stained metal.
Kicking off some weeks before the events of Dead Space, Extraction’s five to six hour multiple-perspective storyline details the discovery of the mysterious Marker on Aegis VII, ensuing outbreaks of violence among the colonists, Necromorph infestation, chaos, and final flight to the orbiting USG Ishimura, shortly to be abundant in reanimated corpse-flesh.
It’s hackneyed, superficial but well-executed stuff, players becoming acquainted with characters through the eyes of others before leapfrogging into their shoes during chapter breaks. The game sensibly never lapses out of first-person, keeping your retina glued to the HUD till a chapter ends or the moment of death, and in one instance beyond.
If the prequel is cleaner and, by necessity, more tightly constructed than its high def sibling, it falls a little short on gameplay “oomph”. Disregarding the odd winged squid or giant raging octopus boss, there are no new varieties of Necromorph, and few novel ways of killing them. Legs and arms must be shot off as before, mutant grappling holds broken (with furious shakes of the ‘mote), glowing boss appendages blasted, reloads timed to intersect with lulls in the carnage.