Dead Space 3 preview

We get a look at the closed-door E3 Dead Space 3 live demo, and come away with some impressions of new things like the ice planet locale, human enemies, a cover system, and more.

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QUICKTAKE: The third chapter in space engineer Isaac Clarke's saga of terror is set to continue with Dead Space 3, and developer Visceral Games is bringing a few new tricks to the party. Besides being able to play the campaign cooperatively, things like a "lean-in" cover system and the inclusion of human enemies are new series additions--as is a new ice planet, which provides a stark presentational contrast with the series' traditional claustrophobic locales.

THE DEMO: The behind closed doors Dead Space 3 demo at E3 began with our hero, Isaac, hanging upside-down in a spaceship which had crash-landed on an ice planet, one of the upcoming game's brand new locations, and the setting for the entirety of the live, thirty-minute, hands-off presentation.

Out of the wreckage and into a blizzard, a handful of necromorphs--the undead, traditionally primary enemy of past Dead Spaces--popped up out of the snow and were dispatched with relative ease. Once a particularly large brute arrived, a second player joined the live demo to assist, while at the same time demonstrating the game's drop-in, drop-out co-op play. Isaac and his new-found friend--a soldier named John Carver--encountered some of the new human enemies, and the new subtle, non-sticky cover system was on display. They also fought necromorphs while trying to shut down a giant spinning drill, in an intense arena battle.

The demo concluded with a fight against a humongous, screen-filling, multi-staged, worm-like boss creature. The battle was bombastic and visually stunning, and ended with both players being swallowed, only to awaken in the creature's esophagus, before being forced down into the fluid-filled stomach. Clearly, the fight was not over, unlike the presentation.

DETAILS: An ice planet is a big change for the Dead Space series; however, although it was the only area of Dead Space 3 showcased during the live demo, we were told that the game would feature a number of other distinct location-types. There's a nice sense of claustrophobia created by being caught in a blizzard, and the game presents it well, but as a fan of the series, it didn't seem as unsettling as exploring a derelict spacecraft.

Co-op also seems to take diminish the series' traditional scariness a bit as well, but it seems like it's being implemented in an interesting way. It's drop-in, drop-out, but the in-engine cut-scenes and dialog change, depending on if you're playing with a buddy or not. If you're playing solo, you may cross paths with Carver, but he'll play a much bigger role in the story if you're playing with a friend.

Human enemies and the "unique, lean-in cover system" are new systems that beget one another, and based on what I saw, I'm not so sure they're welcome additions to Dead Space. One of the original hooks of the series was strategic dismemberment, which pretty much becomes a non-issue with human targets. Perhaps Visceral felt human foes were necessary for the playable narrative they're trying to create, but were the least-interesting part of the presentation.

Dead Space 3's presentation is still top-notch, and the demo included a number of incredibly over-the-top moments. Though just a demo, things like the quickened pace, chaotic setting, and number of huge set-pieces--like the boss fight, described above--created a sci-fi action experience that seems like it'll be a lot of fun to play. I just hope some of the other locations are scarier, and that the final game is paced well enough to foster things other than a competent trigger finger, like the occasional doses of dread and tension.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    June 6, 2012 6:15 AM

    Jeff Mattas posted a new article, Dead Space 3 preview.

    We get a look at the closed-door E3 Dead Space 3 live demo, and come away with some impressions of new things like the ice planet locale, human enemies, a cover system, and more.

    • reply
      June 6, 2012 7:24 AM

      That's exactly what I'm afraid of. Too much action and not enough scares. I'm sure there will be a few pop-up moments but I really cringe on the idea of drop-in/drop-out co-op. Dead Space is all about being alone, be frightened, not knowing what is around the corner. This feels almost a mix of Lost Planet meets Gears of War meets Dead Space. Just no so sure about the direction they are taking with this game but I'm remaining optimistic.

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        June 6, 2012 8:10 AM

        same, however I don't plan on using the co-op my first time through. I just hope that the game still holds that single player DS feel, or if its going to be another LP2 where your playing SP, and you feel like its still MP based :(

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      June 6, 2012 8:14 AM

      Sweet another Bro shooter is exactly what this series was lacking

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      June 6, 2012 9:02 AM

      According to Game Informer the bro-tastic co-op is optional and if you play it by yourself it plays like the previous Dead Space's have. If you do co-op it has different cut scenes, vibe, etc.

      Doesn't sound all that bad to me.

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      June 6, 2012 12:09 PM

      "One of the original hooks of the series was strategic dismemberment, which pretty much becomes a non-issue with human targets.


      It still could be an issue because according to a Gamespot interview with Steve and Sharif of Visceral Games (http://e3.gamespot.com/live-show/live-show-day-1/ at 01:06:00), you might take down human enemies but then Infesters could come and reanimate the dead human enemies and then you'll have Necromorphers to deal with as well!

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        June 6, 2012 6:25 PM

        At first I was kinda "meh" when I heard that there would be human enemies because that's sorta like watering-down the mise en scene of the game. Sorta like how Resident Evil went from just Zombies or Mutated Creatures, to Smart Zombies That Can Dodge and Open Doors, to Zombies That Can Do Basically Everything A Human Can Do Including Shoot You With A Gun. At that point, are they even zombies?

        But then I realized that's apples and oranges. If you're playing Dead Space 3 and have been killing alien-zombies for X number of hours, it might be a welcome change of pace to suddenly be killing other humans. The UNFORTUNATE thing is that they totally spoiled it. Now I will expect humans at some point. They should've kept that part of the game a secret.

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          June 7, 2012 1:48 AM

          There probably won't be hordes of humans to kill, being able to headshot a few people before the coming 'morphs feels like a fresh change to me. ;.)

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          June 7, 2012 1:51 AM

          I know the chance won't come, but if the game had the level of freedom-of-choice that I would choose, I would have Carver appear in mid-game and offer a choice to Clarke: "With me or against me". So that I could TAKE HIS RED ARMOR. >:.)

          Edit: Also because his brawny swagger talk in the movie clips already makes me want to throttle him.

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