Feeling rather special, on Wednesday the 23rd of January, I was invited to a press-exclusive preview of the much-anticipated Dead Spare 3, playing up until a point 2-3 hours into the game. If this slice is anything to go by, the full experience of the game will be absolutely worth the wait and the price (and the clunkiness of gameplay) to any fan of the series, and definitely recommended to anyone who’s missed the predecessors. Oh, and anyone who likes horror games. Actually that’s probably a more important criterion.
So, being a game, let’s talk about the gameplay elements of Dead Space 3. Because it’s a game, right? The main protagonist through the series, Isaac Clarke, has always been clumsy to operate (it’s not his fault, though), with actions such as, say, turning around, being much more difficult than necessary, especially when you can hear something rushing towards you. Dead Space 3 unfortunately is still in this exact vein, and it’s also very difficult to line up an accurate shot, though these (maybe intentionally) add to the horror of the situation, with players desperately wasting ammo in a dramatic plead for survival. That said, that could also be due to the controller I used in this preview, I didn’t quite fancy it. Though this is one part of the Dead Space series that brings down the experience for me personally, most players are sure to get used to the unorthodox control mechanism and get right into slaughtering necromorphs.
Ahh, but the necromorphs! The same disgusting, terrifying, jump-scaring freaks from previous titles are more diverse and dynamic in Dead Space 3, with combat genuinely getting the adrenaline pumping. Once they are up close, however, it becomes irritating trying to back up so as to put them in firing view, and if you try to engage them in close combat, you’re left with a rather measly melee attack. I foresee many a frustrated player’s death due to this.
Being a triple-A title, Dead Space 3 carries with it a whole tonne of pressure from its fans. It has promised to finally put to rest many questions that have been asked since the beginning of the series–of course, this could end in another catastrophic controversy, but judging by the depth of story and character developed in just the opening hours of the game, I know I’ll enjoy the narrative start to finish (not sure about more hardcore fans, though. *gulp*). Story has been such a huge aspect of the series to date, and it is definitely not letting up. The cinematics through which the narrative is only partly conveyed fit in very well within the game, with some action sequences tied into the end of cutscenes so seamlessly that I had no idea I was playing until I had died. Embarrassing, especially at a press event. The rest of the narrative is told mid-game, while you’re amongst the action, keeping the experience flowing. Brilliant!
So, all I’ve really said so far is that Dead Space 3 is the same but better. It’s the same sci-fi/horror setting (obviously inspired by the likes of Blade Runner and Event Horizon), with the same third-person shooting action. So let’s get onto the most important section–the differences.
Crafting! A craze that seems to have infected the entire games industry, a crafting mechanic has been brought into Dead Space 3, with guns, upgrades and consumables being able to be spawned from benches in return for miscellaneous goods found through the game. Though I’m sceptical of the necessity of this in many titles, particularly Dead Space 3, it seems to fit well in the gameplay, with players being able to strategically choose specific traits for their guns, and in the narrative, with Isaac Clarke finally putting his engineery skills to use.
Another new factor to the game is drop-in drop-out co-op, which Visceral Games is so proud of. I didn’t get to experience the co-op gameplay so I feel I shan’t say much more than this on the matter. Just that the two players are promised distinct experiences, with the story affecting the actual gameplay in a way that hasn’t been played with much recently. Which sounds kickass–although, I admit, the primary feeling of dread in the Dead Space franchise revolves around the sense of isolation. I’m not sure how this will hold up in co-operative play, but I’m looking forward to being proven wrong!
I’ll admit I wasn’t too excited for Dead Space 3 before Wednesday–another addition to yet another big name series, meh. But after personally experiencing the smallest bit of this latest title, I am absolutely keen.
Dead Space 3 is released in Australia on February 7th for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. I think you should probably get it. Our full review will be published upon release of the game.