To start off with, I load the game to be immediately greeted by a required update... on launch day... Dafuq? Ok, no big deal, it's all of 15mb and takes no time to install. Then it's time to redeem the "online pass" (why? because fuck you, secondhand market!). "The online pass is not available for download at this time. Please try again later." Are you fucking kidding me? My former-EA-employee friend handwaives it with "The online pass is on Sony's CDN, not EA's." Right...so then why did it work when I went to the piece of crap PSN Store? Yeah, I thought so...
Then we get into the actual game itself. Starts off decent, but then wrecks like the train you have to escape from. As soon as the shit hits the fan, you encounter your first new enemy, the Waster. I'm all for new enemies, but what is an iceaxe-wielding pile of reanimated tissue in a parka doing in a major metropolitan area on the moon? Should have known something was up at that point.
But before that, you have to evade the Unitologist goon squads who are out to kill Isaac. Which turns into typical 3rd person shooter, chest-high walls, fire from cover nonsense. I understand the plot point with all of it, I really do. Unitologists are some fucked up, unstable zealots. But this isn't Gears of War. But thankfully that's over after the first chapter (for now, anyway).
Even the sections that follow that are set in space, just don't feel like they should. Oh sure, there's confined corridors on ships just like before. But that feels almost tacked on. There's no sense of dread, and instead of haunted and creepy, the ships feel cold, sterile, and boring. And toward the middle-end-ish of this section (which is still VERY early in the game), it already starts to get cheap. Remember how annoying and damn near pants-shitting the Hunter was in the original? Now it's throwing two of them at you at the same time. Only they're not scary. They're annoying as hell, because they tend to pin you in one place so that even when you have them stunned while they regenerate, YOU CAN'T RUN PAST THEM FOR A BETTER POSITION. Then five minutes later you're clearing explosive debris from airlock gears with a fucking .50-cal that somehow doesn't destroy the gears. And this thing splatters hunters left and right. Wat...?
Not much more than 20 minutes later, you end up on a backwater ball of snow in the ass-end of space. And that could have been awesome as hell. Instead, we get Lost Planet meets John Carpenter's The Thing, only nowhere near as scary. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's not a frightening game at all. There is no sense of tension whatsoever (to me at least). And that's what kills it. Even on my third playthrough of Dead Space 2, with all the best gear and fully upgraded weapons, the first scene with the Stalkers STILL makes me apprehensive and jumpy. And that's what I loved about the first two games. No, the major supposed dread-inducer here are the Feeders.... Basically adult versions of The Pack, only more emaciated and with a murderous reaction to flashlights....so even MORE annoying than the screaming little bastards in the previous title.
But honestly, even with all of those flaws, it could still be a decently enjoyable (if generic and not scary at all) action game. Except for the parts that they REALLY screwed up...
The weapon crafting is a pile of ass and universal "ammo clips" breaks the feel of the game. The multiplayer seems to be done well, but to hell with these "co-op" only side missions. Why side missions exist in this franchise at all is something I have yet to figure out. The inventory screen feels sluggish and doesn't remember your page after closing it. The in-game text can be ATROCIOUS at times. Case in point, one of Isaacs journal entries says something to the effect of, "Without a helmet, Isaac won't last long outside in the elements. Buckle said their may be more survival suits in the basement. If I can find a suit kiosk down there, I may be able to repair the damage to my helmet." Umm, WTF? Can we not decide who's talking here? BAD EA! NO COOKIE! That brings me to another point. The extra cast members.
In the previous installments, there were very few people around other than Isaac. The ones that were there, had a purpose. Now, we just have set pieces who nobody gives a crap about, and if they were to explode into a spray of blood, Isaac would shrug it off. There's no reason for them to be there other than to make the game "more mainstream". At Tiedemann made a good anti-hero, and Mercer a pretty decent mad-scientist type villain. No such luck here. Danik is your stereotypical one-dimensional religious zealot antagonist. Think Alan Rickman's character in Die Hard with a complete lack of nuance. At least Daina SEEMED to be a friend at the start. Not Danik.
Ok, that's the other fuckup. Character development. Isaac has been through hell and back. Twice. He's understandably a broken, withdrawn, unstable shell of a man. For about five minutes while the credits are still going. As soon as Norton shows up saying Ellie might be in trouble and that she said Isaac could help, suddenly he's a badass action hero who takes charge of every situation. Always knows what to do, never hesitates, etc. No signs of just how mentally and emotionally unstable he really is.
And that brings me to my biggest character gripe, Ellie. In DS2, she was a tough, determined, intelligent, badass survivor. Isaac first meets her on Titan Station, where she's dealing with a horde of necromorphs with little trouble. When Stross gouges her eye out with a screwdriver (because he was batshit crazy), she cracks him in the head with a metal pipe for his trouble, just before telling Isaac that he owes her an eye. In the quieter moments, she's vulnerable, sure. But she pulls it together when required.
Enter the newest installment, set three years later. Apparently Isaac and Ellie were a couple, but she left him because of his emotional trauma. Funny, she went through the same thing, so that means she's probably glossing over her own mental issues. Her eye is back. Granted, it's 2518, so that's no big leap. But you would think they could at LEAST get the color right? Nope. The new one is green instead of blue. And instead of being a tough badass with a vulnerable side, she's now your typical damsel in distress. She's even dating Norton, the captain of the first ship you're on. He's your typical alpha-male douchenozzle who is incredibly overprotective of Ellie, and in reality is a huge coward. This is obvious, again, in the first couple of chapters in the game. And it would seem Ellie has gotten a boob job in the three years since Titan Station, since they are now prominently on display.
That's another thing... If she's supposed to be a government agent now, why the HELL does she go to a place where she KNOWS she'll probably encounter more of the nastiness she escaped from, wearing cargo pants and a skin-tight, low-cut shirt? What the fuck, EA? They've taken what could have been a complex, interesting character, and dumbed her down to fit in with the rest of the derpsquad that nobody gives a shit about (including Carver...the guy so fucked in the head that even Isaac thinks he's not all there).
After all that, it seems almost trivial to mention one final gripe. The kinesis system sucks this time around. Last two games, large objects still acted as if they had weight. Now you can move entire train sections with almost no effort and launch metal poles at frightening velocities... but can't hurl a body more than about three feet. FAIL
tl;dr - Easily the worst entry in the series, and proof that EA will eventually turn anything they touch to shit...