Dead Space: Extraction
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2009-10-08 Wii Survival/Horror M (Mature) Visceral Games / EA

Dead Space: Extraction is a prequel to 2008's Dead Space, which sets players primarily in the role of P-Sec Detective Nathan McNeill, who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when a mining expedition gone wrong activates a relic called the Marker, which begins affecting the mental state of colonists, triggering homicidal acts that lead to the death of many, and the viral transformation of even more, as the virus rapidly reanimates the bodies of the dead and transforms them into Necromorphs, all before your eyes in beautiful, gory detail.

In an effort to escape the colony, McNeill joins forces with long-time military friend Gabriel Weller and two survivors, Lexine Murdoch and Warren Eckhardt. All four characters are a bit like horror-film stereotypes - the dashing detective always out to do the right thing, the helpless female, the guy with a secret and so on and so forth, but the story is a deep one, and is fleshed out in such a way that you probably won't mind.

Dead Space: Extraction is an on-rails shooter, meaning that your character's movement is left at the discretion of the title itself, and that you are left with control over little but your aim. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but these are short lived and normally only coincide with your having found a weapons cache or when given the choice of which path to take to advance the story.

Extraction makes good use of the Wii's motion controls. A shake of the nunchuck delivers a melee attack, while shaking the Wii Remote activates glow worms - temporary flashlights that give off a green glow in incredibly dark surroundings. As you would expect, aiming the remote at the screen controls your crosshair, with the crosshair being customizable in terms of sensitivity to movement.

Extraction contains a second control mapping that supports the Wii-Zapper, but I found the game best experienced with a third-party light gun peripheral, as the nunchuck remains free in your hand.

Each level plays out in real time - there are no cutscenes in the traditional sense of the word (although you do stop for conversation along the way), as you can and will be attacked at any time during a dialogue sequence, forcing you to remain on your toes.

There are destructible boxes containing weapon upgrades and ammo scattered throughout the environment, along with lockers and crates that can be opened and looted. There are also text, video, and audio logs to be found that further the franchise's canon even further. All of this is accomplished via your kinesis ability that causes you to emit an ethereal tube of white light that opens and grabs hold of objects and or people, depending on the circumstance.

Collecting every item in a level is a difficult prospect, with the entire system of item pickups truly testing your reflexes due to the fact that the game is forever progressing, and that your point of view is constantly changing as McNeill surveys side corridors and maintenance shafts for nearby threats.

Where the original Dead Space was full of literal jump-in-your-seat moments Extraction isn't nearly as frightening. However, the game does offer a great tension and overall feeling of unease in that you know you are being watched and/or followed, but, unlike in the original, you are completely powerless to control it. You are going to enter that dark and scary corridor, and you will be attacked from behind.

At ten chapters in length, Extraction can be finished in around 8 hours, which is actually quite lengthy compared to other light-gun shooters. At the end of each chapter, you are graded based on your number of deaths, firing accuracy and so on, with animated pieces of the Dead Space comic being unlocked along the way for your viewing pleasure back at the main menu.

Extraction is noteworthy for the fact that it offers local co-op, allowing a second crosshair to be placed on screen when playing with a friend, but even more so for its highly impressive graphics and sound effects. While the experience is in no way as impactful as playing on a 360 or PS3, when looked at by Wii standards, it's one of the best looking titles on the console.

While Dead Space: Extraction may be a prequel, the story is such that you aren't required to have played the original to get something out of this installment. While those who have played Dead Space will surely get more out of the experience, as the journey here fills in gaps and reacquaints you with familiar territory, Extraction can definitely hold its own as a survival-horror experience, and is one of the best games released on the Wii to date.

Special thanks to Tammy Schachter and EA for providing a copy of this title.