Coming Soon: Dead Space

EA has a new survival horror of sorts on the horizon and I’d be willing to bet that, if you have an Xbox 360, it’s something that you’re going to want to play.  The game is Dead Space, and it’s been talked about for a little while now.  However, it’s only been recently that the press events have started to roll…

The game’s protagonist is Isaac Clarke, a space engineer in a not that distant future who’s been called out to investigate a mining ship that has been floating about after losing contact with the Earth.

During the mission of this ship to harvest the resources of a dead planet, something went wrong and an alien parasite has been picked up.  This has led to a number of the crew being infected by the unknown creature and leading them to become violent mutations.

One thing that is very noticeable is that whilst Isaac is heavily suited to survive the environment, there’s been a lot of focus on exactly how he interacts with it.  Part of the reason behind this is the extensive focus testing EA have done to ensure that you’re controlling someone that feels ‘human’.  You’ll see that Isaac breathes heavily as if tired, flinch at monsters and even react to noises in the environment akin to the eye tracking of Silent Hill characters.

Unusually for a game which features action environment, you’ll find that there is no HUD, no cursor aiming and tight field of view.  Of course, from a technical standpoint you’ll realise that this is something often used in horror films.  Restrict the field of view and you have a much easier time in creating a claustrophobic, terrifying atmosphere to make the player sweat.

The control of your Isaac is something that is perhaps more comparable to Resident Evil (the original) than EA would like to admit.  In the spaceship environment you’ll find his turning slow, along with some of his other actions.

Amazingly, the HUD elements that you do have access to are of the more standard variety – namely for inventory and weapon system management.  This means that you’ll be rolling with monsters in real time along with trying to boost your health at the same time.  The pressure might well get to you!

The weapon systems (you start with a pistol with a laser sight) are controlled with your left trigger.  You might find it disconcerting at first using the guns when you don’t have a cursor but you’ll quickly get used to it.  Once again, it certainly adds to the atmosphere of the game.  Whichever weapon you happen to be using, they all are quite powerful and will take out the weird monsters you’ll see without too much trouble.

Similar to the gravity gun from Half Life 2, you’ll also find that there’s a gravity beam device (this time based on telekinesis).  You can pick up objects, through them across the room and of course this can drive physics based effects.  When the game plays more on physics later in the game (with lose of gravity, strange time effects and so on) you’ll no doubt be presently surprised with how you can use this ability to your advantage.

If Dead Space is anything like any game I have ever played, I would pick Assassin’s Creed.  The reason for this is that it also contains a beautifully crafted, enigmatic world full interesting sights and sounds.  If Dead Space lives up to what we’ve now seen, I think we could be up for some excellent gaming indeed in September.

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