Time played: 3 hours
I'm personally a big fan of on-rails shooters, a genre that I think rarely gets its due. I'm not all that big on exploration, and I'm lazy, so having someone else take the reigns for me is a welcome relief, allowing me to focus on the all-important business of murder.
So it's quite a treat to see a game like Dead Space Extraction that strikes a blow for lazy guys everywhere by finding the strengths of the genre and running with them.
A prequel to the 360/PS3 game, DSE returns you to familiar locations like the Ishimura and Aegis VII as you and your rugged and expendable band of colonists try to survive the Necromorph invasion. Besides just being narratively connected, DSE brings along some of Dead Space's weapons and enemies, as well as its focus on dismemberment (a perfect fit for an on-rails shooter). There's even an alternate fire mode for each gun -- triggered by turning the Wiimote on its side.
You also have access to Dead Space staples like Kinesis (which is how you grab ammo and weapon upgrades) and enemy-slowing Stasis, which now recharges over time, a welcome change from DSE's older brother.
Sure, there are the requisite motion control gimmicks -- the most notable and frustrating is a welding minigame that requires the rock-steady hands of a surgeon -- but they're blessedly rare.
The biggest and most pleasant surprise is that putting the experience on rails never feels like a de-evolution. While Visceral has taken away your camera control for most of the game, they're very good stewards of it. You're always oriented towards the most exciting thing on screen, and there are plenty of cinematic sequences that are really amazing to experience in first person. Sliding down a nearly pitch black tunnel as you take frantic potshots at the wave of Necromorphs in front of you is a special brand of terror that I'm not sure the original game could have ever replicated.
It's a testament to both the world of Dead Space and Visceral Games' skill that the series can shed both some hardware power and its own genre and still be able to scare the hell out of you.