From the opening scenes, to the focused gun crafting elements and emphasis on puzzles you can tell that EA has given Dead Space an entirely new feel while still trying to keep the franchise eerily feeling like its predecessor.
Right from the start the game gives you the feeling that Isaac does not want to have anything to do with space exploration, markers and necromorphs but as all good heroes go there is no way of escaping the inevitable. What brings Isaac back to Dead Space is what made him get there in the beginning. The love he has for Ellie. Ellie has been lost on a planet and her new boyfriend seems to know the only person who can help him with the necromorphs outbreak. In the coop play you and John Carver begin the game by fighting off swat who don't want you to help Isaac uncover more of the truth. The action heats up and the chase begins in areas that give the game a classic dead space feel. Eerie tunnels, necromorphs popping up, not knowing what is lurking around each corner. This is were dead space is at its best. The first 4 chapters of Dead Space take you on a ride of equally disturbing and high intense scenarios with a movie like magic that I have never seen done on a game before. Early on in the game EA has kept the Dead Space vibe. As the game progresses to the later chapters one thing becomes more and more clear the direction that dead Space has taken (Now remember I am playing this experience completely coop). The game continues to provide necromorps, alien creatures and more exploration in the classic dead space sense. In the later stages the swat is back and this is were dead space gives you a feeling of more action oriented elements. Instead of focusing continuously on the horror elements that made the earlier missions classics now you are outdoors fighting swat that has been tracking you because they don't want you to find the secrets of the markers.
A bigger focus on puzzles lead the way in the later stages. Benches for suit upgrades give you a fighting chance as the game progresses. Gun crafting has been taking to new heights with the addition of finding blue prints to truly begin the crafting process. One of the ways to make the crafting process easier is by using your scavenger bot which allows you to remotely send off a bot that will eventually make its way back to you and has gathered enough materials to at least help you facilitate the process of creating new weapons. Many of the weapons I crafted helped me combat the waves of enemies but as I progressed I realized I could not get comfortable with just the first weapon. I either had to upgrade the existing weapons or craft more. As no stage is the same and enemies can come at you relentlessly or in small increments. As I continued on I realized more and more that weapon crafting was a big element of this game. So being able to just play the game and bypassing the bench (weapons tool modification area) was not going to be an option.
The production values of this game are wicked and EA has continued to push and optimize the envelope on the graphics department. Every area from the the indoor environments to the out door snow, blizzard, sun over the horizon and landscapes show case what a good job EA has done. The sound is top notch with music that represents each and every stage adequately to give you a different vibe as you progressed.
Kinect Support- EA has pushed the envelope before with kinect support. I am no stranger to voice commands especially, in Mass Effect 3 and now with Dead Space 3. Dead Space with (over 30 commands) although optional and not as natural as in Mass Effect 3 is something I can say that felt good to know it was available. As I progressed through the game being able to say find objective, reload, find partner, quick heal, scavenger bot status, find bench, give partner ammo made the game more accessible giving the feeling of just focusing on the environments and not having to press a button or search for an item. The voice command features are not perfect, I would score them an 8. The reason behind this is because in areas were there was complete exploration the kinect worked flawlessly but when the action picked up the pace you would have to repeat the command especially when it came to reload or quick heal.
The game never stops being fun and feels like a combination of old and new. The addition of coop play is fantastic to me. I love cooperative experiences and sharing in the horror/action elements with my friend is always a treat. The game never reaches the first dead space in terms of overall horror but it never falls short of giving you an experience that feels like a dead space game.