One of the more surprising games at E3 this year was the third instalment of the Dead Space franchise. Not so much because of its quality – though, yes, it did look pretty good – but rather because the footage on show was quite a departure from previous games.
The E3 demo was all about action. Sure, there were some Necromorphs to stomp, but EA was really far more interested in showing the new stuff; namely, co-op play, and the fact that you’ll now be tangling with actual armed humans now, not just goopy mutants that want to tear off your face and make love to the red bits.
However, it seems that EA’s aware that it might have given punters the wrong idea about Visceral Games’ Dead Space 3. The latest code that’s been shown to gaming press is a much more classic stretch of the game, though it too shows some interesting deviations from the Dead Space norm.
The playable demo was from the early game, in Act 1, and is actually a side-mission from the main narrative. It’s based in the claustrophobic corridors of something called the Lost Flotilla, an entire fleet of long lost ships that you can travel between. These side missions are all optional, but packed with information and loot that will improve your overall game experience.
They’re also classic Dead Space – twisting corridors, dimly lit chambers and machinery, and all manner of scary things just looking for you to be a touch too slow with your industrial machinery.
What really impressed, however, was the sheer detail of the settings, and the graphics vibrancy on display. We – there was a group of journos taking turns on the game – were playing on code that is not close to final, on Xbox 360, and it was looking great. Detailed textures, rich lighting, and a fantastic sense of depth and place are prevalent in all the level designs.
Of course, as great as the art execution is, you often forget all about it, and worry more about the colour of underwear you chose...
While the engineer-on-monster combat really hasn’t changed that much – they rush you, you chop them up, unless it’s those sneaky, tentacled bastards who like shooting you from the rafters – but what’s new is the addition of universal ammunition. Dead Space always had a kind of split personality when it came to shooting gameplay. On the one hand, you’re encouraged to carefully dismember opponents to stop them approaching; on the other, though, ammunition is scarce, so it pays to go for one-shot-kills wherever possible. On top of that, you might find that you run out of ammo for a favoured and upgraded weapon, and be forced to fall back on something less interesting.
Universal ammo solves all those problems, and means that each random ammo drop is that much more useful.
It’s still early days, and we’re a long way from final code next year, but the game’s coming along at quite a pace, and looks to reinforce the gameplay of previous instalments with new elements and challenges. For a third instalment, it’s looking pretty strong.