Was anyone else really excited when they announced Dead Space: Extraction? I remember thinking what a great idea it was to create a rail shooter for Wii in the universe of the excellent 360 sci-fi/horror third person shooter from October ’08. Sure enough: am I high on Marker fumes (oof) or could Dead Space: Extraction really deserve the hype created when I say something like, “It’s the best spin-off since Super Mario Kart”?
Extraction is a direct prequel to last year’s game, depicting an earlier wave of mass insanity, suicide, murder, and subsequent necromorphing (courtesy of some nasty aliens that generate horrible monsters out of dead things) that occurs after finding The Marker, a valuable artifact in the Unitology cult, but eventually considered incredibly dangerous. You play from the perspective of a few different characters led by Detective Nathan McNeill, trapped first on the planetside colony, and then the mining ship, USG Ishimura. It’s not really a spoiler to say that they don’t all make it…
The horror genre is the obvious and perfect complement to a rail shooter since you can’t do the one thing you always want to, look behind you — you’re on rails, i.e. the camera and your character move on their own. Although the first person view is more shaky cam than you may like, it definitely ads a lot to the spooky atmosphere, and Extraction does give you more opportunities to take control than other rail shooters I’ve played. For example, sometimes upon walking into a room you’ll be given a timed cursor indicating that you can aim the Wii remote to look around and search for items to grab with your kinesis power, and in the zero gravity segments, you point at jump pads to launch yourself across the area. There are also soldering mini-games where you have to guide your cursor through a series of hazards to hack doors or reconnect circuits.
Of course, the highlight of the experience is the shooting, and fans of Dead Space will be happy to learn the dismemberment (you aim at the limbs and joints, not the head or torso) continues (or begins, I guess) unabated in Extraction. Your default weapon is a rivet gun, whose handy alternate firing mode (accessed in a very “Wii” way by twisting the remote 90 degrees) makes setting up a barricade (in a couple timed challenges — watch out for those bloody-thirsty necromorphs) a matter of charging a few shots and riveting the corners of a sheet of metal. Many weapons remain from the original game (the ripper saws, plasma cutters, force gun, etc.), although as a detective, Nathan is equipped with a P-Sec Pistol initially, which gives you some quicker shots off the bat before you find the machine-gun-like pulse rifle.
Just as satisfying as the twists and turns of story mode are the floating numbers over the corpses of your dismembered foes in Challenge mode, a selection of levels that exist in a plot void, just to throw wave after wave of necromorphs at you. As in story mode, you can play everything with jump-in co-op should a friend show up. To reiterate: you could argue, and I would, that Dead Space: Extraction is one of the very best two-player co-op games on the Wii. A little slow down (and it really is a little) never hurt anybody.
Add to all this one of the coolest unlockable extras ever (a complete motion comic version of the Antony Johnston, Ben Templesmith Dead Space comic that came out last year), and you have one awesome package for your standard Wii 50 bucks. Although it only took me two evenings to beat, the replayability is definitely there, whether via harder difficulty levels or different friends in the 2P slot; any other quibbles I had melted away with the learning curve. Whether Dead Space: Extraction will provide a universe-balancing counterweight to your diet of kawaii or it’s just more gore in the bucket, this is definitely a game your Wii should spin soon.
Developer: Visceral Games
System: Nintendo Wii