R rated sci-fi horror games donâ€™t come around very often on the Nintendo Wii. As those who played Dead Space when it arrived on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC know, the franchise is famous for its cinematic visuals, high gore content and frequent heart-stopping action. Three things we donâ€™t associate with the Wii console. But Extraction does an excellent job of pushing these invisible barriers and the end result should satisfy many older Wii owners out there.
But first, letâ€™s get one thing straight. Despite EA throwing phrases like â€śguided experienceâ€ť and â€śauto-navigatedâ€ť around, Extraction is an on-rails shooter. In fact, with the Wii controls it becomes a light-gun game like Time Crisis or Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. But considering the limitations of an on-rail shooter (and possibly more importantly the constraints of the Wii console itself), Extraction delivers an extremely enjoyable experience.
Just like the original game, Extraction takes place onboard a ship that has been over-run by nightmarish creatures known as Necromorphs. The story takes the form of a prequel to Dead Space and sits in around the same timeline as the animated film Dead Space: Downfall. Fans of the series will recognise familiar locales such as the Aegis VII and the USG Ishimura as well as little references throughout. However, unlike the original game, Extraction puts you in the quivering space boots of four survivors this time around. Each one has a well-crafted storyline that makes them differ from one another but more importantly, generates an emotional tie between you and the character. It was refreshing to see that for a â€śkill-a-thonâ€ť title like this, EA havenâ€™t cut back on writing a very solid script that helps drive a relatively simple story ahead. All of the characters benefited from excellent motion-captured animations too that brought them all to life visually.
As you would expect though, the main bulk of the game is shooting nasty beasties. Lots and lots of nasty beasties. Thankfully Extraction has a slick control system that makes the potentially mindless blasting a lot of fun. The game can be played with or without a nunchuk controller, but like other games in the genre, most would opt to use one due to the number of extra controls the nunchuk provides. Most of the time you will be aiming your crosshair on screen by pointing the Wiimote and shooting by pressing the B trigger. However it was great to see EA try some different ideas in the controls department, including secondary fire being activated by twisting your Wiimote to the side, Gangster styles.
There are around ten weapons to try out in Extraction, each one unique and a hell of a lot of fun to use. They range from rivet guns and pulse rifles right through to flamethrowers and limb severing ripper cannons that fire razor-sharp saw blades at your foes. Just like in Dead Space, Necromorphs are ruthlessly difficult to kill, meaning that players have to target weak-spots. This normally results in chopped off limbs flying all around the screen as you attempt to incapacitate the horrible beasties coming at you. The engine driving the whole dismemberment process does an excellent job too considering the processing power of the Wii. On top of this, the use of the Wiimotes help make the process more engaging as they allow the player to pin-point shots to a leg or arm with relative ease. The sheer speed that some of the enemies move around on screen can prove challenging but you do have some other handy weaponry up your sleeve as well. Pressing the C button triggers an ability known as Stasis that freezes a targeted enemy for a brief period of time. It allows you line up shots to the legs in order to take down particularly challenging Necromorphs before finishing the twitching mess off with a head-shot. Itâ€™s all very satisfying. Every weapon can be upgraded through-out the game too and will need to be maintained in order to fend off the increasing difficulty of the enemies as you progress.
The visuals in the game are definitely a highlight. The ominous and â€ścreep-tasticâ€ť tones that the next-gen Dead Space provided are all beautifully recreated on the Wii, albeit with a few sacrifices to the detail and polygon count. Itâ€™s a tribute to the developers just how good the game looks. The shaky camera and sudden whip-around effects might be a tad head-ache inducing but all add to the fright-factor of the game. One minute you will be studying a computer panel and the next you will be turned to be face to face with a terrifying Necromorph that has emerged from the shadows. The music and sound effects are also terrifyingly atmospheric except they do tend to overuse the jarring effect of having a sudden blast of sound as a shock tactic. Extraction definitely is worthy of its R16 rating with plenty of scares, swearing and even a bit of female nudity. High five!
As with all on-rails shooters though, Extraction does fall victim to a repetitive gameplay mechanic. Even the big boss battles suffered from a lack of inspiration, with one big mo-fo requiring me to dodge, activate Stasis and then blast him from behind â€¦ which had to be repeated about eight times! The rest of the action, although intense and adrenaline pumping is broken up with numerous dull sequences of crawling along dimly lit rooms just waiting for something to happen. It became a tad predictable but Iâ€™m sure if I was in a pitch-black room and with the volume cranked up I could have been quaking in my slippers. Or maybe we have just become a bit over-exposed to scary stuff and desensitized to the concept of a big alien chewing on our heads in space. The developers have tried to break up the gameplay by adding a small amount of puzzle solving. But these elements are so minor itâ€™s almost as if they threw them in as a last minute thought.
Finally, the only other criticism is the game is quite short. The ten chapters take around five hours to get through and although there are some memorable nail-biting encounters, the game isnâ€™t exactly a thrill a minute ride. Players can certainly replay the game at a harder difficulty, but the game tended to go from easy straight up to near-impossible. Itâ€™s important to note here that Dead Space: Extraction has a great multiplayer component thrown in which makes the harder difficulties plausible. At any point a second player can join in the fray (both users must use just a Wiimote) and having an extra crosshair can be a life-saver. This doesnâ€™t make the game easy however, with ammo and lives shared between both players. Challenge Mode adds an extra couple of hours to the mix too and presents players with wave after wave of Necromorphs letting you see how long you can last until you are over-run.
Extraction certainly was a surprisingly good game. I went in expecting a watered down port of the original and received a very solid first-person shooter for the Wii. It was innovative in terms of gameplay and most importantly, is pushing the boundaries of what we can expect on the â€śkiddie-friendlyâ€ť console in terms of adult subject matter.