by William Thompson
previewed on PC
A tough life
Life has been tough for Isaac Clarke. After being the only survivor of the USG Ishimura and its horde of Necromorphs, he was then sent to an asylum aboard Titan Station where he again encountered the dangerous alien creatures. Not only that, but he winds up being the subject of desire between government officials and those of the Church of Unitology. And his girlfriend becomes a hallucination brought on by those trying to kill him. And all this while alone and with no-one - even himself - to trust.
The forthcoming Dead Space 3 will change this though. Not only will players continue in the role of the series protagonist Isaac, but players will also be able to assume the role of Earthgov Sergeant John Carver. The story takes off after Isaac crash lands on a hostile new planet known as Tau Volantis. It is here that Isaac discovers what he believes may be the key to ending the Necromorph infestation. He must then (with Sergeant Carver’s help in co-op mode) scour the icy planet in an attempt to realise his ultimate goal of making the Necromorphs extinct.
A new setting
The game visually looks much like Dead Space 2, despite the change in location. Dead Space 3 certainly seems more open than previous titles with rocky landscapes and ice covered mountains as well as the almost obligatory tight corridors that enable the game to be the tense, edge-of-your-seat ride that the Dead Space series is known for. The outdoor areas of Tau Volantis look gorgeous with all their brutal, rugged elements. The HUD system used in Dead Space 2 seems to have been imported across to this sequel. And this is great as far as I’m concerned. All the important health and shield data is displayed on Isaac’s suit, freeing up the screen for more gameplay action. It also enables gamers to see more of the gruesome Necromorphs in all their disturbing glory.
The Necromorphs themselves will feature some old favourites as well as some new gigantic bosses and some more highly evolved creatures. Unfortunately, it is not just the hideous Necromorphs that Isaac and Carver must contend with. The Unitologist faction has their own goals when it comes to the Necromorphs and will be a road block to Isaac’s success. Another road block will be the inhospitable landscape of Tau Volantis itself. With deadly avalanches, treacherous ice-climbs and violent wilderness, it will be a test like no other for Isaac. The cold, misty surroundings will no doubt add to the tenseness of the already apprehensive atmosphere.
Though the environment can be dangerous, it will also help Isaac and Carver. Uncovering raw materials and scavenging spare parts will enable Isaac and Carver to put their engineering and military skills to use in developing their own weapons in the fight to defeat the Necromorph horde. And they’ll need to, because the Necromorphs won’t be easy to kill. As with Dead Space 2, shooting off arms will not stop some Necromorphs from charging towards you. Shooting various hit points on their bodies will affect the Necromorphs in different ways, requiring varied strategies for each.
Some will argue that having co-op in a thriller will diminish the scary moments, but if done right, it can be just as frightening. Imagine standing side by side with your partner, only for him to be a disguised Necromorph waiting for the perfect moment to attack, with your real partner being harassed in a similar fashion in another room. Although Dead Space 2 wasn’t overly frightening, the feeling of dread was always there due to the atmosphere set up by the tense sound effects and dark corridors filled with flickering lights. Hopefully, Visceral can re-create the effect both in single player and co-op.
The co-op will certainly add an extra layer to the game though. There will be some additional cut-scenes and dialogue developed especially for the co-op game, as well as missions that can only be completed by Carver. With the addition of co-op, the new setting of Tau Volantis and the upgraded weapons crafting function, Dead Space 3 is definitely a game I’m looking forward to seeing more of. Making sure that it plays in the same tense, creepy fashion as its prequels in single player and co-op should be a major goal for the team at Visceral.