E3 2012: Dead Space 3 Preview – Crisp Isaac’s Forever Blue
Written Monday, June 18, 2012 By Dan WebbView author's profile
I, for one, wasn’t overly impressed with Dead Space 3’s E3 showing during EA's press conference. For a franchise whose roots are steeped in suspense and tension, and a fanbase originally won over by its scares and jumps, Visceral’s E3 press showing had none of the above. In fact, it looked more like Army of Two than it did Dead Space 3. That said, we always like to reserve judgement and our behind-closed-doors reveal of an extended campaign walkthrough didn’t disappoint. It did make us scratch our heads though… “Why the hell wasn’t this bit shown at the press conference!?”
In the third iteration of the franchise, the world’s unluckiest son of a bitch, Isaac Clarke, finds himself stranded on the snow-ridden planet of Tau Volantis after his ship crashes – a planet that is believed to house the secret to ridding the universe of the Necromorph threat once and for all. This is where we pick up with Isaac behind-closed-doors, as he’s suspended from the rafters, upside down (again), with one hell of an icy beard.
With the wind whistling through the decimated remains of the ship, Isaac cuts himself down and makes his way out of the ship onto the snowy surface of Tau Volantis. Leaving footprints in the snow as he walks, Isaac ventures on into the snowstorm and in search of – hopefully not Necromorph – life. But we all know what’s going to happen next, right?
One of the interesting approaches from Visceral in Dead Space 3 has to be the way in which it delivers its suspense and jumps. In games gone by, darkness has been a staple for the franchise to deliver its ghost train-style thrills and chills, and Dead Space 3 puts the emphasis on the chills, adopting the use of snowstorms – where Isaac can’t see more than a foot in front of him – to deliver the scares, with Necromorphs popping out of the snow beneath him and jumping out of the swirling snowstorm ahead. If Visceral can combine this new tool with dark crevices too, it’s looking like Dead Space 3 is going to be chock-full of jumpy moments from all angles. In typical Isaac fashion, he uses his Stasis Module and Plasma Cutter to dismember his foes into oblivion as he plods through the snowy plains into some eerie and icy caverns.
Dead Space 3 isn’t just snowstorms and caves though. It actually boasts its fair share of fine views and epic vistas too, and as Isaac further explores the surface of Tau Volantis, he’s presented with more than a few stunning views. After Isaac passes through the blinding snowstorm, the view of a distant facility with the sun peeping out from behind an especially close moon is enough to make you forget where Isaac is and who he's got for company on this godforsaken planet. Only the jagged silhouette of an enormous rock on the horizon marred what could only be described as one of the eeriest, yet most beautiful views at E3.
Isaac isn’t without his new subset of skills – and enemies – in Dead Space 3 either. The protagonist can now evade and roll, and also jump into cover, with the cover system being described as “organic” and not “sticky” by the folks demoing the game. In terms of new enemies, sure, there may be a few new Necromorphs to fight along the way, but this time Isaac will face off against humans too – there’s something increasingly more satisfying about watching the limbs of a human aggressor being lopped off instead. Combine their ability to throw grenades and Isaac’s ability to use the Stasis Module on them as well, and there is an unending amount of possible hilarity that can ensue.
For those of you who missed the press conference, you might not be aware that Dead Space 3 welcomes co-op into the fray too – drop in/drop out, no less, with the second character being Sgt. John Carver. Now, we’re not entirely sure how survival-horror and co-op will work when it comes to Dead Space, you know, because the whole jump-out-of-your-skin scenarios we’re so used to being subjected to come from the fact that you are alone, so that’ll be interesting to see.
Visceral has however made the extra effort to make the co-op and single-player experiences flawless, with cutscenes and segues unique to each mode so that the plot makes sense whether you’re playing alone or with a friend.
For instance, while playing alone, moments before Isaac fights the big beast as seen in the EA press conference, he'll see Carver on one of the higher floors inside the nearby facility, which prompts him to take the lift up – the same one that crashes to the ground prior to the boss fight. While playing the same scene in co-op, the player will meet up with Carver before the lift, which triggers a cutscene with the two clashing over Ellie in a nearby hut – who’s reportedly on the planet, but not with the duo. It’s an interesting way to do things and one that should appeal to both subsets of fans.
Our bewilderment at EA’s choice of press conference gameplay aside, Dead Space 3 is shaping up to offer players an interesting take on the Dead Space franchise. How much will be action-action-action (like the press conference) and how much will be suspense-tension-oh-shit (like we saw behind-closed-doors) remains to be seen, but if Visceral casts aside what made the franchise what it is, then we can’t help but feel that it’ll have a huge impact on how good the game is, thus affecting its critical success. We’ll remain upbeat at the moment based on what we saw behind-closed-doors, but we’ll remain cautiously optimistic too. Let’s put it this way, we’re a damn sight more intrigued by Dead Space 3 now than we were after that press conference.
Dead Space 3 is scheduled for a Q1 2013 release.