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Dead Space 3 Preview

by Diogo Miguel January 21, 2013

It was quite surprising to see Dead Space 3 getting on the cooperative bandwagon last year. It makes sense with some of the biggest video-games in recent years including the ability to cooperatively play with someone. A recent demo made it possible to see the impact of this new feature.

Playing with someone else feels more or less the same as playing in single player. Both players are able to work together since there are no separate paths in the demonstration. Obviously, it’s far easier to take on the necromorphs with another player. But it’s actually enjoyable since there is the opportunity to just mess around, as most player tend to do with video-games that offer a cooperative mode.

There are even times where one player is able to help the other one. This was particularly noticeable during a quick time event section, where both players had to press a series of buttons to avoid falling to a painful death. Yes, the dreaded quick time events make an appearance, but it’s not all all that bad. In fact, they make it possible to put the characters in situations that would have not worked so well, if the player was given full control over the character.

Two weapons even out the odds against the legion of nightmarish monsters that continue to plague Isaac and his merry band of heroes. Those sneaky necromorphs like to jump out at the characters. Having a second player as back up means that it’s very unlikely to end up being cornered by those pesky creatures.

Perhaps the only downside to this is that it turns Dead Space 3 into a shooter. Fortunately the fear factor that made for some tense moments is still there, when playing through in single player. It’s been said that the easiest way to scare someone is by making them scared of what is hidden in plain sight. Dead Space 3 does exactly this by making the most of where it’s set. The harsh weather conditions make it impossible to see what lies further ahead. Monsters could jump from the thick coat of snow that cover the ground. There are plenty of opportunities for them to scare the player witless.

Interestingly enough, there are more cut-scenes when playing with another player. Perhaps it’s an incentive for players to go through the story once alone and also with someone. The cut-scenes that appeared when playing with another player offered some insight into what is going on.

Another welcome change is the location where Dead Space 3 will potentially take place. The snow covered location explored during the demonstration is a welcome break from the walls of the typical spaceship setting. This outdoors area even makes it possible for designers to offer more thrilling sights. Throughout the duration of the demonstration

It could do with bigger areas to explore though, since the path taken throughout the demonstration feels too narrow. The potential is there and hopefully the full version will offer bigger areas to explore. The simple puzzles that make use of the trademark kinesis and stasis modules are back. For the benefit of Dead Space newcomers, both of these are powers that Isaac and his companion use to solve puzzles or as aids that make killing enemies easier. These simple puzzle sections offer a break from all the fighting. A particular scene towards the end makes very good use of these powers.

It’s not exactly possible to guarantee it from this short demonstration, but Dead Space 3 feels like it has cut down on the gore, that the previous two instalments are known for. It feels a lot more like a desperate fight for survival under extreme weather conditions. It actually makes for a better experience, since the player can focus on exploring and finding out more about the world of Dead Space. Danger still lurks around every corner or even in the far distance, but it’s more about not knowing what to expect.

As already mentioned, Necromorphs are back with a vengeance. They will jump out from under the snow and do all they can to kill the character. As usual, the only way to make sure they stay dead is by stomping on their corpses. There are also soldiers under the command of the religious cult that won’t stop at nothing to exterminate poor Isaac. Funnily enough it’s during these encounters that Dead Space 3 becomes more lively. Both necromorphs and human soldiers will often end up fighting each other. The player can take advantage of the ensuing confusion to finish off the ones that are left standing or leg it to the next location.

Fighting in this demonstration consists of making use of the trusty plasma cutter that Isaac likes to carry around. What is interesting though is that the weapon bench is used to produce custom versions of this weapon. There is a variety of options to pick from and the player can potentially create weapons that are ideal for different situations.

The suit that both characters wear is also upgradeable. There are plenty of upgrades that cover powers, suit health bar increases, etc. It seems like these upgrades are unlocked by gathering resources.

Dead Space 3 is a pleasant surprise considering it doesn’t feel that different to the other two instalments. The key game mechanics are still there, but the radical change of location and an emphasis on survival make for a promising sequel. The addition of a cooperative mode doesn’t seem to compromise the quality of the story either. It should prove handy for those that struggled to get through the spine chilling dark corridors of the previous Dead Space instalments.

Fans are bound to enjoy Dead space 3, but it also feels like a sequel that newcomers can easily adapt to. If the retail version is anything like this demonstration, then Dead Space 3 is a worthy sequel, that will yet again strike fear into the hearts of those that dare to play it.

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