For those of you not initiated with the whole Dead Space universe, here's a quick rundown: Extraction is a prequel to the PS3/360/PC game and takes place at about the same time as the animated movie Downfall, immediately before they story of the original game. I'm not going to give away any of the plot as that will ruin half the fun of the game, but rest assured this is B-movie gore and guts at its very best.
What's really nice about this game is that it feels genuinely close to to what the Xbox 360 and PS3 can offer in terms of graphics and presentation; it feels like a really meaty game, which is a rare feeling on the Wii. The voice acting, scripting, motion capture and whole presentation of the title is really advanced, the story sucks you in and the characters, whilst somewhat clichéd at times, are all pretty entertaining. Perhaps the best way to describe this game as one giant interactive cutscene in which you watch the events play out, shoot some stuff, then move on to watch the next event. Yes, it is hugely polished, but at times it is hugely boring.
Whilst most light-gun games offer you the thrill of ploughing through countless enemies, Dead Space takes a different approach. You walk around very slowly, occasionally have to shoot something or solve a puzzle and then all of a sudden you have a massive hoard of beasties (better known as Necromorphs) to kill. These periods of frantic shooting are few and far between however, with the general pacing of the game being very slow.
The whole game is seemingly more about relationships and talking than fighting. As a bit of a book-worm it was certainly interesting to see character development take centre-stage in a big budget EA kill-a-thon. It works pretty well, with brilliant motion capture on the character models creating a believable and highly engaging world into which a number of different characters play out their lives. Perhaps the game is trying to evoke something more realistic (as realistic as killing aliens with flame-throwers can be), where conversations and slower moments are only occasionally punctured by moments of gun-slinging and mass slaughter. In line with this, the camera seems to be obsessed with spinning about and shaking all over the place, which is nice and headache-inducing.
What impressed me most about DS:E is how it makes use of the Wii and tries to do something different. All secondary fire options are activated by tilting the Wii remote on its side. Enemies can be slowed down by shooting off their limbs so they're just twitching messes on the floor, and picking up items is achieved by pointing at them and pressing 'A'. And there are a lot of items to pick up.
I'm not often scared by games, and this one is no different. Perhaps the on-rails aspect makes it all a bit too predictable, but there are only so many times you can be surprised by something you presumed to be dead coming back to life, or something apparently being on your left and then appearing on your right with a loud piece of music accompanying it to remind you to jump. It's all just a bit clunky and obvious. That's not to say the game doesn't try different things; the slow descent into insanity of the characters and the general sense of terror and tension is really well realised, it just never really makes you jump, even with the lights off.
Perhaps the most enjoyable feature in the game is the drop-in/drop-out co-operative play, something that is pretty much standard in on-rails shooters. Blasting through the game with a friend certainly helps to up the fun levels, especially when you have to sit through another tediously paced 'plot' segment. Alongside this you also have a very yummy array of weaponry at your disposal. By levelling-up weapons you become more proficient at using them. As I mentioned earlier, Necromorphs are best dealt with by decapitating them, which requires quite a bit of accuracy. In the rare moments when you are overwhelmed by enemies, being accurate can be a pain in the arse. This is where stasis comes in handy: pressing C will freeze an enemy allowing you to chop away at them at your leisure. Handy.
In terms of life-span, Extraction is a bit of a puzzle. The ten-chapter story mode lasts about five hours, outside of this is the kill-a-thon challenge mode and the chance to replay the story mode in a higher difficulty level...which makes it bloody hard. There are also some rather swanky comics to look through and of course you can play through the whole game by yourself or with a friend if you can hack watching the story all over again.