Dead Space 3 Videogame Preview
The T-1000 wasn't looking his best.
After Dead Space’s snowy E3 debut, fans of the bowel-bothering action-horror series had good reason to be alarmed. Gone were the claustrophobic corridors – in their place open arenas with crates for cover shooting, human enemies and a partner for playing the game in co-op.
It seemed like the game couldn’t be further from Dead Space as we knew it. But after going hands-on with this section set on the ice planet Tau Volantis (in single player and co-op), and playing through a brand new level set aboard a familiar Necro-ridden research ship (one abandoned on the surface of Tau Volantis), we can reassure you that Dead Space 3 looks set to be everything you expect from a Dead Space game. And more.
On first glance, aside from looking much prettier (in a horrifying Dead Space-y way), the new section we play is almost entirely indistinguishable from its predecessors. Oppressive metallic corridors, the hesitant march of Isaac’s heavy boots, the persistent terror that at any moment a blade-armed Necromorph could burst out of an air vent – all present and correct.
Feeder's are new to Dead Space 3, and the result of humans feeding on Necromorph flesh. Ewwwwww.
The changes are a little more subtle and hint at a fine tuning of the formula. Certain doors must now be opened using Isaac’s telekenesis ability. In previous games it was easy to forget Isaac even had this ability, but with TK doors acting as a constant reminder, it’s likely you’ll find yourself propelling severed limbs at Necro-noggins more frequently in combat.
Speaking of combat, the weapons now seem more powerful than ever. Weaker enemies could be ripped apart with only a couple of shots, a welcome relief in the moments where Isaac is surrounded on all sides, or a climactic sequence where Isaac makes a desperate dash for the exit as the ship rips itself apart from the inside. By the end of the section, however, when the Swarm Infectors show up to reanimate ruined corpses, precise limb removal is crucial to keeping your head.
We encounter a handful of simple puzzles on our journey through the bowels of the ship. Nothing too taxing, but a welcome change of pace amid the stressful terror/silence cycle. Previous Dead Space games have always required a surprising amount of smarts, and hopefully this one won’t be any different.
Strategic limb removal is still the easiest way to take down an ugly ET.
What we don’t get to see is how this section will work in co-op. Should you so choose, a friend can join you in your journey across Tau Volantis – stepping into the space boots of John Carver (a name keeping in tradition with the series’ thinly-veiled references to sci-fi icons). Our time in co-op is surprisingly enjoyable as SFX teams up with a fellow journo to take down a giant snow beast, giant drill and some angry unitologists (the game’s human enemies). Working together isn’t essential for survival at this early stage in the game, but it makes things much, much easier.
Don’t like the sound of co-op in a Dead Space, a game that has previously thrived on a sense of petrifying isolation? Visceral have you covered. Play on your own and Carver won’t even be present – the game playable from start to finish without a buddy. Should you choose to invite a pal in on the action, however, the co-op will include several completely different cutscenes, lots of new dialogue and branching paths that make best use of the potential of controlling two players.
It’s effectively two games in one – Dead Space as you knew it and something daringly different for the series. Find out whether the gamble pays off in February 2013.
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