Coming to 360, PS3 and PC l Published by EA l Developed by Visceral Games l Classified MA15+ l Supports 1-2 players l Due to arrive 07.02.13
As the EA rep ran through the basics of the Dead Space 3 demo, I could feel my focus beginning to wander away from the game. This was a mistake. I hadn’t touched the series for more than three years, but I could recall one thing very clearly. If I offered the haunted corridors of Dead Space anything less than my full attention, I would be rewarded with death and dismemberment, though not necessarily in that order. Inexplicably, instead of concentrating on the task at hand, I found myself staring intently at the purple wristband that had been handed to me at the start of the session. When the rep called for volunteers, I should have kept a low profile, hovered at the back, bided my time. Instead I reached for the controller… and the horror began.
A space suit was my top priority, but the only one I could find was so hideous that I briefly considered going down with the ship in order to avoid wearing it.
As returning hero Isaac Clarke, I was stationed aboard a malfunctioning spacecraft. Within seconds, my plan to use the first few minutes of the demo to reacquaint myself with the controls went out the window (or more correctly was sucked out into space) when a series of explosions rocked the ship. Before I could even begin to gather my bearings, the ship listed onto its side and I was forced to run for my life as the on board systems failed left and right. A space suit was my top priority, but the only one I could find was so hideous that I briefly considered going down with the ship in order to avoid wearing it. I pulled on this powder blue monstrosity and prayed that it would soon be replaced by something more in keeping with past instalments.
Minutes later the ship was gone and I found myself floating gently in the void. Here, I finally had a chance to take stock and realise how little I had done in real terms. My escape from the burning wreck had required precious little input from me. While it had been reasonably well executed, I hadn’t expected the tense moment-to-moment gameplay of the original Dead Space to be supplanted by tightly orchestrated Call of Duty style set pieces. My disquiet intensified as I began the next sequence, an on rails shooting gallery in which I was drawn inexorably towards a distant ship. Surely the entire game couldn’t be like this? After I was wiped out by a mine, the rep gently tapped me on the shoulder and explained a thing or two. “This is actually a really easy part,” he said reassuringly. “You just need to stay in the middle”. I waived him away before he could offer more advice and promptly failed the mission three more times. I really should pay more attention.
…I hadn’t expected the tense moment-to-moment gameplay of the original Dead Space to be supplanted by tightly orchestrated Call of Duty style set pieces.
Only when I touched down on the new vessel did I begin to feel like a genuine Dead Space experience was in the offing. I crept methodically through a claustrophobic industrial nightmare, using telekinesis to manipulate battery packs, power up machinery and open doors. After such a chaotic opening stanza, I was more than a little relieved to find that that the original’s solid controls, superb user interface and tense pacing were all present and accounted for. Soon thereafter, I stumbled upon a pack of familiar adversaries and immediately targeted their legs. After they fell to the floor, the Necromorphs continued to crawl towards me, seemingly more desperate than ever to bring my life to a premature end. I battled hard, but these abominations eventually got the better of me. While I thoroughly enjoyed facing the Necromorphs for the first time in years, I had to wonder if more dedicated fans would be happy to see the same enemy pop up yet again.
By the time the session was over, I was slumped in a bean bag, my attention again focused on the band around my wrist. I rotated it slowly as I considered what I had seen during my time with this sci-fi sequel. I hadn’t seen the new co-op mode and I hadn’t set foot on the icy planet that has featured in so many of the trailers and screenshots. I hadn’t even had the chance to test drive the recently unveiled voice controls. What I had seen was, at least to my eyes, surprisingly uneven, so it was actually rather comforting to think that Dead Space 3 may have a lot more to offer. Two hours later, as I sat in the food court at Sydney Airport, nibbling on a piece of banana bread, I realised that I was still wearing the wristband.