Dead Space 3 Demo Impression – Necromorphs “Geared Up” by Clarke and Carver
EA and Visceral Games have just released the public demo of Dead Space 3 on Xbox LIVE and on the PlayStation Store. Being a fan of the franchise, I immediately downloaded it to see how it fared compared to its predecessor Dead Space 2.
Based on the short demo, is it more of Dead Space 2 or has Visceral strayed out of the formula to nab the “dudebro” crowd who loves seeing stuff blow up? Read on to find out.
Dead Space is Moving into a New Frontier
The moment I booted the demo up, one thing was made clear: Dead Space 3 is moving away from its claustrophobic environments and ushering in a more open-world experience. I’m not sure if this is just for the Tau Volantis level, but there are now more paths that you can opt to go to that will net you items and whatnot. However, this doesn’t mean that Dead Space 3 will be as open-world as say, the Grand Theft Auto franchise or Darksiders; as you still will be shepherded through one objective to the next, but there’s more side routes to take this time around.
Is this a turn for the better? I honestly can’t say until I’ve played the final game.
Chopping Limbs and Taking Names
So, Dead Space 3 is moving away from being too linear but not that far that it’s like Arkham City. Now that’s out of the way, you might be wondering, how’s the actual combat and scares?
Unfortunately, here’s where the demo delivers a double-edged sword. Old-school Dead Space fans will feel right at home with the controls and how Necromorphs behave. You’ll still use your Plasma Cutter to cut of limbs strategically, stomp their carcasses for items and all that. But in Dead Space 3, Visceral has swiped some third-person shooter tropes that might not sit well with those looking for all out horror.
Now, Clarke can roll and dodge attacks. He has to since some of the Necromorphs will have guns. If that wasn’t odd enough, he can now crouch behind items for cover, too. Again, this is mostly because some of his enemies now have firearms of their own. While that sounds like Visceral has turned Dead Space 3 into Dead Space of War; it’s really not that noticeable unless you intentionally do it.
For my playthrough, I didn’t roll or take cover that much. I’m not sure how viable this is in the final game, but if it’s anything like in the demo, then Dead Space fans can take solace that they have the option of not playing the game like your typical third-person cover shooter. One more thing that stood out and made the demo feel like your typical shooter is how abundant health and ammo packs were scattered about. Not sure if the final game will be the same, but I hope not. It’s a lot less scary dealing with Necromorphs when you know you have enough firepower to take them and their entire army out.
Speaking of guns, gun customization has been given a major overhaul in Dead Space 3. Gone are nodes which players used to modify Isaac’s rig or weapons. Now he must look for “spare parts” or other items so he can craft weapons, attachments and mods himself. It does take some getting used to, and the menu itself is a bit confusing to navigate but after a few minutes of struggling, I managed to find out what to do and where to use the parts I found.
The More the Less Scarier
We, of course, can’t end a look at the demo without talking about the game’s biggest addition – and that’s the inclusion of co-op in the main campaign. Wait; let me rephrase that, its optional co-op. By and large, you can still play Dead Space 3 like you would its predecessors. But in the demo, even when you play it solo, John Carver will pop in from time to time to offer exposition and support.
It’s fairly obvious to think that having someone with you will dampen the scare factor and it does. Add the fact that the shooting has been made to fit right in with your traditional third-person cover shooter, and well, I understand the trepidation some people have with the sci-fi horror title.
But the thing is, even with less jump scares, dodge and wall cover maneuvers, the game still feels like Dead Space. In the short segment the demo provided, it felt less scary than Dead Space 2 – which is a given since Visceral needed a more action-packed affair to hook players in – but at the same time, it reminded me why I loved the franchise in the first place. The pace is a bit faster now, but the tension is still there. Yes, shooting down enemies is a bit easier, but there are more varied enemies now that necessitates this move.
We can’t really say for certain which direction Dead Space 3 is headed until we have the final version in our hands. Based on what I’ve played though, things might be a bit different, but that doesn’t make me want to see through Isaac Clarke’s story any less.
Dead Space 3 is set for a February 5 release for the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.