Dead Space 3: Bigger, Faster, Dumber
I’m not one to say ‘it’s different so it sucks now’ reflexively. My concerns weren’t a result of being confronted by change. But when I saw the Dead Space 3 demo at E3 2012, one thought kept popping up in my head:
The Dead Space series is survival horror… in SPAAACE. Right?
This is probably going to be on your mind too, if only so that later, when you’re wondering why you didn’t quite like Dead Space 3, you’ll know why. No, the 15 minutes or so of the Dead Space 3 E3 demo didn’t suck, exactly. At every turn, Dead Space 3 seems like a pretty b-grade game. It looked good, but not great; it had some sharp dialogue, but the lines felt stolen from a buddy comedy; it even had some rather neat gameplay mechanics, but they kind of nerf the single player experience.
The problem, naturally, is that Dead Space is not a b-grade series. Or at least, it didn’t used to be.
“More enemies, more action, more environments.”
This is what EA Redwood Shore’s Paul Mathus said fans can expect in Dead Space 3, and he was right. Compared to previous entries in the series it is positively chaotic. The scenes in the demo featured far more variety than we’re used in Dead Space, ranging from caves to fortresses to cliffs, science fiction rooms, even giant drill sites, all in a relatively short period of game time.
A brief recap: It began with a cut scene in which Isaac, suspended upside down in an ice cave ala Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, calls our Ellie’s name, implying that they’ve become separated since the end of Dead Space 2 (your mission is in part to find her). We learn rather quickly that Isaac is on an ice world – and remember that, because it’s important for when I complain later. After the cut scene, Isaac wandered around some tight environments reminiscent of the first two games in their narrowness. Equipped with a very familiar weapon, Isaac killed several necromorphs. The scene then transitioned to an expansive ravine, where a collapsed path results in Isaac hanging off a ledge. Once Isaac saved himself via quick time event, we were treated to a rather spectacular view of the planet’s horizon, with what looked like a Gas Giant visible in the sky.
At this point, Isaac wandered into what looked like some kind of survivalist encampment. He interacted with a guard manning the wall of the encampment, and then had to defend the guard against a sudden necromorph attack. Isaac then went into an interior where he equipped himself with new armor, and then returned to killing necromorphs and, incidentally, newly badass members of the Church of Unitology (more shortly).
The Demo also featured several different kinds of necromorph enemies, and a demonstration of how the new co-op system will work (more on that shortly also). While the demo didn’t reveal much about the plot or how the final game will look, the suspense and survival horror aspects seem to have been replaced by pulse pounding terror-ish elements, with driving music and relentless enemies, not to mention standard shooting mechanics the new normal.
Yes, indeed there is lots of action, lots of enemies, lots of environmental variety. Does it work? Kind of, but when the demo footage hit the web last week, we asked if it was “too many bullets“. Yes. Yes there are.