E3 2012: Dead Space 3 Impressions
This year I was blessed – one of my E3 wishes came true. Yeah ok, anybody could have made the prediction (and we’ll pretend like it wasn’t leaked pre-show) but this year EA showed us a glimpse of Dead Space 3.
The Dead Space series for me has been probably the most immersive this generation. Playing it in the dark with the surround sound up the edges of the TV screen just fade away and before you know it your on the Ishimura clutching onto your plasma cutter and few remaining rounds for dear life.
The series hasn’t been afraid to change things up either; you could argue that Dead Space 2 was the Aliens to the first installment’s Alien. Despite the changes to pacing and narrative the feel of Dead Space remained throughout, and even translated over to the iPad surprisingly well. What with all the comics, books and anime movies, the Dead Space universe is a vast one and there is plenty of depth there for anybody who wants to find it. It’s that coupled with the tension and fear Dead Space seems to have mastered so perfectly that makes me hold it in such high regard.
Then EA went and did something that I thought might be just a step to far, and introduced a co-op partner to the mix… to what is effectively the ‘story mode’ too. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about that, and while the prospect of tearing up necromorphs with a friend sounds like fun I can’t help but feel like it couldn’t possibly have the same fear factor with your mate jabbering in your ear. What about those parts when it all gets a bit too much, when I need to take a break, turn the game off and hide the disc in the freezer for a few hours? I needed to find the answers to my questions, and luckily for me EA happened to be having a live stream event to show the fans the game. It was the closest I was going to get with out spending a few hundred quid on a flight.
The bulk of the action takes place on the ice planet, Tau Volantis, after Isaac crash lands and is separated from Ellie, although space fans need not worry as there will be some sections of the game that take place off-world. The gameplay section showed Isaac and his new co-op partner Carver, a soldier (rather than an engineer). The two will need to work together to solve many of those classic Dead Space puzzles, and take down the swam of necromorphs that stand between you and Ellie. A prime example of this was one of those kind of mini-bosses Dead Space likes to throw at you, in which you need to stop a faulty drilling machine while the transformed dead come looking for a bite. In here one player needs to concentrate on using stasis on the drill bit to slow it down and fire at the power source, while the other concentrates on taking down enemies.
It’s great to watch and I’m sure it’s great to play, but I just couldn’t see how it could be scary in the same way that I’m used to. I’m torn, I really want to play this in co-op now but I really don’t want to say goodbye to that feeling of solitary and survival. Then my worries were put to rest; the team at Visceral have gone and done what just might be the greatest use of co-op in a game. It’s optional, completely optional… you don’t need to play the game in co-op and even better than that if your’re playing solo Carver just simply isn’t there most of the time. Sure you’ll cross paths every now and then but the narrative and gameplay has been structured in such a way that Carver now adds a little bit of that extra something to the Dead Space universe.
I was worried over nothing, I should of had more faith. I’ve got it sussed out in my head how I’ll be playing now; first time round in the dark on my own then again with a friend for what I’m sure will be filled with plenty of those “ohhhh yeahhhh now that makes sense” moments.