Extermination was slated for release soon after the PlayStation 2 launch in the US. Sony promised that as the first survival-horror game available for the console, it would offer players a unique spin on a genre mired in complacency. What piqued my interest was the discovery that the Deepspace development team was made up of some of the original developers of the Resident Evil series. Unfortunately, as was the case with many of Sony's launch titles, Extermination missed its release date by well over a year. By the time I came across the game again, it had lost some of its appeal. To look at it now, you'd mistake it for just another clumsy first-generation release like those forced on players during the PlayStation 2's mediocre launch. And that is a shame because as Brad intimated in his review, there is enough here for gamers to enjoy.
I agree with Brad's assessment of Extermination's strengths. The move to more action-oriented gameplay is a far cry from the slow and often awkward actions we associate with the Resident Evil series. Dennis Riley, like any good US Marine, is so quick and athletic that he makes Raccoon City policewoman, Jill Valentine, look like a clubfooted amateur. It is so refreshing to see a character walk up to a box and simply climb over it. When he comes to a gap in his path, he can actually jump over it. What a novel idea! Of course there are occasions when this highly trained Marine still gets stumped by a locked chain link fence; but for the most part Dennis Riley moves around the environments the way I have been pleading for Jill and company to do since the first Resident Evil hit the PlayStation.
The new focus on action is no more obvious than when the game is in targeting mode. This is done in either an over-the-shoulder perspective featuring auto-aiming or a less cumbersome first-person mode. Both negate the usual obstruction issues created by bad camera angles. Enemies in the distance can now be dealt with providing you have the ammunition for your rifle to take them out. You no longer need to charge them or wait for them to spot you before you can act. Speaking of which, I have to mention this unique piece of firepower that Deepspace puts in the hands of Riley. Dubbed the Special Purpose Rifle 4 (SPR4), this gun comes with everything you will need throughout the game to take out enemies. In this one weapon, are a sniper rifle, a shotgun, a machine gun, a flamethrower and more. Switching between these different means of mayhem is no more complicated than outfitting the rifle with a different attachment. It's done very simply in the item screen and I liked that it removed the need to stockpile different weapons as you progress through the game.
Where Extermination takes its hits is in its graphical presentation. As I said earlier, Extermination is essentially a first-generation release and it looks it. Though the graphics are sharp and the character models are large, everything in the game looks plain. I'm willing to cut the developer some slack since the game takes place in a scientific facility situated in the middle of a snowbound environment. Still, more variety and complexity in the textures would have gone a long way to helping the game stand out. And let's not forget these horrible cut-scenes. What is usually a standout aspect of the genre, only works against Extermination. The animation is stilted and graphics look incomplete. The voice-acting is below average—not like that has hurt the genre yet—and the lip-syncing is always off. They all combine to give the game a very unfinished look that is consistent throughout.
The fact that Deepspace was not willing to break out of the survival-horror mainstream was another sore spot. Extermination's story begins like any we have seen before in Resident Evil or Dino Crisis games. Chaos breaks out at a mysterious lab in the middle of nowhere and its up to one man or woman to step over the dead bodies of his or her friends and comrades and continue on to solve the mystery. Everything that is revealed in the game is predictable and unimaginative. It's hard for a game based in this genre to succeed if its story isn't the least bit memorable.
It's ironic that former members of the Resident Evil development team would take the genre is such a drastically different direction in one aspect of the game and fall back on the tried and true in others. Had it taken the initiative, Deepspace could have given gamers a brand new franchise worthy of competing with the aforementioned franchises while at the same time putting itself on the video game map. Since it chose not to, Extermination may be left to mire in obscurity.