Dead Space: Extraction
Many moons ago, sometime between the Sack of Carthage and the Prohibition, there was this little white console we used to play with. Since all we had up to that point was cup-and-ball, knife crime, and smallpox it was pretty revolutionary. Anyone else remember? Tiny feller, so he was. Had a can-do attitude, cheap and cheerful outlook. The Little Console That Could, we used to call him. Name was 'Whee' or something of the sort.
Wii? Seriously? Fine.
Ever since the Wii's introduced the idea of wind-milling your arms until accidentally bludgeoning the family pet as a form of entertainment, myself and a few others on specific government watch-lists were waiting for the gun games to come. What we mostly ended up with was Mad Dog McCree, Link's Crossbow Training, and moose assassination sims for the virtual redneck. Light at the end of the barrel came occasionally in the form of the Resident Evil shooters, House of the Dead: Overkill, and most especially Dead Space: Extraction. Extraction was not just one of the better light-gun games on the Wii, it was one of the best games for the wii in general, and easily the best light-gun game available on any home console. Now that the big consoles have decided to steal the Wii's wallet, shoes, and reason for living, Extraction is being released for the PlayStation 3 with a full HD makeover and the benefit of the Move controls.
Extraction is actually where the whole Dead Space plot-line starts, covering the events immediately before the first Dead Space. The plot begins with the crew of the mining vessel Ishimura 'extracting' a giant alien corkscrew from the surface of a desolate planet, inadvertently pulling the cork out of a whole bottle of Cabernet Spacecrazy. The rest of the game follows you as Nathan McNiell and your adorbaly cliche ragtag band of suvivors as they clamber through the guts of the ship, fleeing and firing upon from all manner of mutant enemy. Although the safteys are on during the cut sequences, you are always in somones shoes sharing their point of view, right in the action. The story occurs concurrently with Isaac Clarks adventures, with the atmosphere so perfectly recreated that you'll be expecting to bump into him around a gore-splattered corner. Fans of the Dead Space plotline who want to fully experience the necromorph infected universe shouldnt miss Ben Templesmiths excellent comic, or Extraction. The on-rails nature of Extraction meant that the Wii could be pushed to its graphical limits, making it easily amongst the best looking titles yet available. However, the high-definition makeover given to it in transition to the PS3 unquestionably makes a world of difference, especially for anyone playing on a big screen or projector. The alternately empty and melancholic or busy and terrifying decks of the Ishimura look fantastic with the added detail, with many of what would otherwise be generic metal corridors feeling alive and familiar to players of the first game. The sights and sounds of Dead Space have to be spot on for this kind of port, as does the feel and frequency of the weapons.
It's easy for on-rails titles to leave the gamer feeling divorced from the action, given how little mastery you have over your own destiny or direction. If Extraction did not hit every single note of the Dead Space universe, down from characterization and weapons handling to the sounds the door buttons make, then it could have been a complete misfire. Instead, the game is by turns atmospherically spooky and ballisticly savage, never leaving the player feeling like they are just a floating point of view and a crosshair.
Extraction is so far the best reason to own a Move gun and navigation stick combo. There are more controls to the game than you might think, but without straying too far into the interface morass that hampers the Time Crisis: Rising Storm story mode. Pointing the gun and pulling the trigger hopefully makes the bad monster go away, whilst the navigation sticks houses your reload, weapons select, mle, stasis and telekinesis commands. It's possible to use a regular wireless controller to take care of all of this, but it is not recommended for the sake of convenience and immersion.
The two player co-op mode is excellent, with drop-in functionality and fantastic playability with either your hardcore buddies or new gamers that might not yet have the hang of more complex controls. The simplicity of interface and compelling experience of Extraction is a gateway drug par excellence. However, the aiming reticules are fairly large on screen, and when both players are trying to snip limbs of the same distant fiend the crosshairs can obscure whatever it is you're trying to hit.
Additional minor gripes are the slightly overly complete port of the gameplay elements from the Wii progenitor. Frantic masturbation of the controller will be required to light up select darkened corridors, dislodge space leeches, or perform sundry manual tasks. This type of flailing raised a small if exhausted smile when such antics were new on the Wii, but doing it now we're all grownups on the PS3 can be wearing. Although it can be argued that the Move's navigation controller for all its wireless glory isnt actually as ergonomically competent as the Wii nunchuck, the Move itself gives a fast and accurate return on your aiming. Some accuracy drift occurs over the course of the levels, but simply pressing the 'Select' button will automatically recalibrate your aim and get you snipping limbs back off in a jiffy.
When Extraction was on the Wii people yet again proved themselves to be the decerebrate, thumbless, corporeal filth that we know them to be and stayed away in droves. The playstation incarnation comes free, or at the price of only a few additional pennies, with the Limited Edition of Dead Space 2, which in my opinion makes it the best value extra ever included in a special edition. If you are too deeply rooted to the couch or the box-art of Dead Space 2 alone scares you, then it's available as a standalone download from the PSN at a very reasonable price. For fans of the franchise or simply owners of the Move who have yet to be impressed by their luminous ping-pong balls on sticks, consider it an essential purchase.