Dead Space 3 Demo Impressions: Hope the Game is Scarier

Going It Together
Ross Lincoln:

When we got our first look at Dead Space 3 during E3 2012, our main reaction was simple: Bigger, Faster, Dumber. The content featured in the new demo is essentially what was first shown last June, and though some of what we didn’t like about it then has been fixed – particularly the way the game looks; it does in fact look gorgeous now – there remain lingering annoyances, in particular the new co-op multiplayer.

As depicted last year, the main thing Dead Space 3′s co-op brings to the game, aside from the chance to wade through necromorphs and human enemies with a friend, is the further exploration of series lore via dialoge and brief cutscenes that are only available in co-op. Further complicating the issue is the fact that co-op didn’t involve established character Ellie, who it must be noted was a major part of Dead Space 2 and who (spoiler) saved Isaac’s life at the end of that game. Instead, for reasons we will politely not attribute to bullheaded sexism, EA has opted to force Ellie into the damsel in distress box. You start the game separated from her, and one of your main goals is to find her. In her place is the completely new character John Carver.

The new demo obviously lacks a lot of what we’ll see in the main game, but if last year’s Mass Effect 3 demo is any indication, it’s likely it contains a fairly complete version of the very beginning of Dead Space 3. So, when you select to play co-op, Carver is just dropped into the game like it isn’t even a thing. Instantly, Carver and Isaac begin bantering as though they already know one another well, the problem being that, at least so far, nothing is provided that gives any context for that. It’s kind of like a dream in which you just magically know you’re a spy, or that the world is coming to an end, only in this case, you magically know you’re in a buddy comedy with acrid chemistry between the leads.

That, more than anything else, is what you’ll learn from co-op in the demo. Few significant plot details are revealed; instead, Isaac and John just bitch at one another about… stuff, and the player gains nothing other than a growing annoyance, compounded by the other elements that start to pile up like spam. Of course, this is separate from the fact that it’s absurd to remove a character players are already familiar with in favor of one never seen before, and it reeks of a cold marketing decision based around the notion that players won’t enjoy playing Ellie because she’s a girl.

We wish we could report that co-op did anything to enhance the game play experience, but other than the normal benefits of co-op – the ability to heal your partner, for instance – it adds nothing significant. We’re happy to be proven wrong by the full game, but nothing in the demo gives us any confidence.

But … It’s Still Just a Demo

Electronic Arts and Visceral Games have given us a snapshot of what Dead Space 3 is like, or likely to be like, with the demo released last week. But that’s all it is — a snapshot. And it’s one that’s likely to be markedly different from what we’ll actually be experiencing when the game is released.

With that in mind, there are a lot of things that have us optimistic, and a lot that have us still worried. While we’ve heard good things about the cooperative mode from colleagues, the demo hasn’t inspired any new confidence. The new systems added to Dead Space 3, like the emphasis on crafting, seem like they’ll be fun, but whether they’ll feel right for the series remains to be seen. Lastly, this brief glimpse of the game is missing a lot of the spookiness that we love about the franchise.

But you never know. Demos lie. Check back later this month for our full Dead Space 3 review.


Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here and Ross Lincoln’s work here, and follow them and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw, @rossalincoln and @gamefrontcom.

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11 Comments on Dead Space 3 Demo Impressions: Hope the Game is Scarier

Kyle

On January 23, 2013 at 11:07 pm

It felt more like Army of Two than Dead Space. Im not saying that it cant be a great action game, but Dead Space is survival-horror. That means it could be the best co-op action game ever made but I still wouldn’t like it because Im buying Dead Space so I can play a new school Resident Evil.

The Defenestrator

On January 24, 2013 at 12:49 am

Well, according to Visceral’s own words, they “don’t make survival horror, they make Dead Space.” So I wasn’t really surprised at the lack of scares of tension or atmosphere in the demo. But, having pretty much written the game off months ago as a crass, lowest common denominator baiting money grab, I was probably never going to like it anyway.

Maybe the people who don’t have a history with the series will like it better. Or maybe it’ll appeal to the people who just want to shoot stuff in the face. Either way, as a survival horror fan, I’m out. Good luck to ‘em. Hope it works out. But considering they’re also saying that they need to sell five million copies to justify continuing the series… I seriously doubt they’re going to pull it off.

lol

On January 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm

The whole tension thing I felt from the other games was still in this game. Which was NOT GETTING KILLED IN A HORRIBLE WAY. That in itself made Dead Space enjoyable for me and it’s still around in Dead Space 3.

Rob

On January 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm

I heard one chapter has a snow mobile gun chase that ends up in a freefall over a cliff with Isaac in a mid air death struggle with a necromorph for the only parachute . . . .. . You fight a ing drill in the demo so an action game cliche like that probably isnt far off. All joking aside doesnt dead space now with the co op and cover system very closely resemble one of EA’s other much less successful titles, army of two. Army of two, especially the second one, is absolutely terrrible and very few people liked it, so what does EA do, damand to force co op into one of their more successful and loved titles even though the fans very loudly voiced their opposition to it. Its like EA and visceral are trying to alienate the people that made the franchise as popular as it is. I personally know of no real dead space fans that are happy with the direction the game has gone now and while we all hope for the best i dont think anyone is expecting anything as amazing as the first 2 games

Hellblazer

On January 25, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Blablabla another too long article for nothing.

Wesker1984

On January 25, 2013 at 11:58 pm

I have a big history with Dead Space and i’m sure i will enjoy Dead Space 3 as much as the other two! Me, contrary to all the whiners around here, i will not let myself having a hole in one of my favorite franchise just because the developers decided to change some details or add new contents in this new sequel.

I doesn’t care if a sequel is more action packed than survival(RE6) or more action-shooter than RPG(ME3) or more linear than it predecessor(FF13). The only thing i care its a good game nothing else so if a game is good i will be satisfied and will not cry on it just because they changed something minor.

As a true gamer i’m in The Defenestrator.

Yeah i know my english is poor et je m’en fiche! Donc aller vous faire voire!

Soldier

On January 26, 2013 at 6:32 am

This game not scary no more, they ruined the series with this one.

The Defenestrator

On January 26, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Well, Wesker, I did say it was baiting the “lowest common denominator,” so by all means go prove yourself as a True Gamer by blowing $60 on a mediocre action game. :o )

Wesker1984

On January 26, 2013 at 9:52 pm

What make you sure the game will be mediocre just because they altered the theme? Every BEEP here in the comment section say Mass Effect 3 is mediocre just because the endings are bad while every reviewers say Mass Effect 3 is a good game, even the gamefront review say it.

What matter for me in a game is not its atmosphere but its scenario. If a game got a very good story i’m really satisfied no matter what! Even if the gameplay is BEEP. I hated games like Left 4 Dead or Borderlands 1 because those games have almost zero story development.

Dead Space: Extraction is a rail-shooter and is a very good game. Good story and fun to play. And if Dead Space 3 have a good story i’m IN.

To correct my previous statement i think is more appropriate for me to say i’m more a story lover and not a full gamer.

So as a true story-lover i’m in The Defenestrator.

MPSewell

On January 27, 2013 at 2:10 am

We all knew it was going to be crap, we saw this coming from every screenshot and game-footage released. A truly great horror series is dead, slain by the EA beast. She shall be missed.

Hellblazer

On January 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm

@MPSewell
I doesn’t care. I’m not a fan of the survival horror genre, i’m a fan of video games in overall and i’m sure i will enjoy this third entry. I’m will not cry like a girl before testing the product.