I feel exactly the same about the first Dead Space, I loved the first Dead Space. Easily one of my favourites from the last generation. I completed it about 4 times, which is more than I can say for any other game released over the last decade. I seem to remember a lot of it was based in shallow achievement hunting - complete the game on hardest difficulty, but also complete the game with only the Plasma Cutter, level up all the cool as shit weapons on New Game+ (come to think of it, was it one of the first games to feature New Game +).
There was so many good things about it. Perhaps the best thing was the Ishimura as a location. The monolithic industrial space station is obviously influenced heavily by the Nostromo, but it felt like a real lived in space. From the living quarters to the rusty bowels of the engineering bay. As an engineer, it also helped sell Isaac as this guy as the unlikely hero who just so happens to know how to repair the ship.
The weapons all felt fantastic. There was the feeling of panic during your first playthrough, like Resi 4 there is a lot of crowd control and prioritising different targets that were constantly changing, but as you got better at the game and learned the mechanics, you started to feel like a badass. When you fully levelled up the contact beam you could shoot the arms of the larger enemies.
I wasn’t as hot on Dead Space 2, by comparison it just felt like an action game. It had more forward momentum and set pieces, but there was less backtracking, which I think really helped the first game and make those environments feel more real. You move through all these new areas, the church the pre-school but I dunno, it just felt like travelling through different coloured corridors. The whole gameplay loop of those third person shooters felt a little grating. Move on into room. Room becomes quarantined. Kill all enemies. Harvest all drops. Move on. Rinse and repeat.
I don’t remember much of Dead Space 3, I liked the first half that was set in space and had an open ended quality to it. Liked the snow planet, as it felt like going back to The Thing, but I just remember the ending of the game being a bit of a slog. The game would confine you to these small areas and just throw the enemies at you. Just felt as if you were going through the motions.
Shout out to Dead Space: Extraction as well. I played it on the eve of Dead Space 2 coming out on the PS3. It faithfully recreates all the locations of the Ishimura but tells a completely different story running through it. Expanded the world of the game better than Dead Space 2, in my opinion.