E3 2008: Dead Space Hands-On Preview

Dead Space was one of the few games Kyle, Eddie and I all agreed on wanting to see when we got to E3. The mixture of survival horror, sci-fi, and all of the elements trying to truly immerse players in gameplay intrigued and excited all three of us. Kyle and Eddie unfortunately didn’t get a chance to check Dead Space out, but after playing it for a while (and getting my ass kicked by it several times) I have to say it’s still near the top of my "Games I MUST Get!" list.

One of the most unique elements of Dead Space is the way the game is presented. EA Redwood Shores wanted players to be fully immersed in the story of engineer Isaac Clarke, so there’s no in-game menu or displays of any sort. The health is displayed on Isaac’s back in the form of lights, ammo is displayed on weapons, and even the inventory screen is a hologram opening in realtime. What that means is that unlike other survival horror titles, in Dead Space there’s no stopping the action to situate your inventory or plan an escape.

Even though what I got was gameplay and not a full campaign tryout, I’d be remiss to mention Dead Space without talking about the plot. The developers watched hundreds of sci-fi films and thrillers to prepare for crafting Dead Space. From Psycho to Fifth Element, the amount they watched is impressive (and scary). So even though little is known of Dead Space’s plot–you’re an engineer sent to a ship which had its communications suddenly cut off upon contacting another alien vessel–it’s easy to see that it’s going to be an epic space thriller the likes of which we’ve never seen.

Back to the game. Since Isaac is an engineer, your weapons are things he brought to use for his repair. (Or in cases like the flamethrower, things he could reasonably use for his job.) Ammo is limited, creating a very tactical game. The first time I played I tried to run and gun and after about four enemies I was completely out of ammo and helpless against groups of even the weakest foes. Using the environment by tossing objects with telekinesis (think permanent grav gun) becomes an important aspect of the game as, once again, you’ll run out of ammo quickly. (Lesson learned, Dead Space. Lesson learned.)

One of the other things which makes Dead Space intense is the variety with enemies. While in most games it’s always certain key points to shoot (head and gut), in Dead Space it changes. Some enemies are susceptible to those normal attacks, but with others killing them by shooting them in a traditional sweet spot causes a negative effect. For example, one of the creatures I shot in the stomach with a charged-up electricity shot, and the second it impacted his stomach his body burst apart and dozens of tiny parasitic creatures came streaming out. My only option was to waste two of my only shots of one of the secondary fires, which sets off an e-pulse like burst, disintegrating the group. Next time I saw those guys? I definitely avoided the body and aimed for the legs and head.

I didn’t get to explore too much in the game since I died, got lost, and then started moving very, very slowly to new areas, but what I did try only served to get me more interested in Dead Space. It definitely has a unique feel to it which makes it much different than any game on the market, and if you loved titles like BioShock and FEAR you’re going to love Dead Space even more.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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