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Before I get to the Dead Space 3 demo, I want to point out that I have played (and completed) Dead Space, Dead Space 2, Dead Space Wii, and have also seen the Dead Space anime film. Dead Space for me has always been a series which has focused more on survival horror, at the early stages of the game, and intense action, when nearing the finales of each respective title. I love the ambiance, I love the storyline, I love the Necromorphs, and I sure as hell find the name Isaac Clarke bad ass. So let’s press start, shall we?
The Dead Space 3 demo starts off with our beloved protagonist slowly shaking off the cobwebs as he tries to regain his posture amidst the debris of a spaceship crash landing. The first thing I noticed was all the frost of Isaac’s beard hinting at the landscape to be come. Dead Space was aboard the Ishimura S.S., Dead Space 2 was aboard a space station in the midst of a Necromorph infestation, and now Dead Space 3 is on a planet. I, for one, am enjoying the growth of the terrain.
We are immediately introduced to Carver (AKA Red because of the bloody hue around his helmet/mask). Dead Space 3 will be playable in both single and co-op mode which is why Carver is present in both campaigns but when played in co-op mode Carver will be more focused on in terms of both story and mission aspects. It's an interesting feature and a potential gamble because if the game is made easier then the survival horror aspect will dwindle into senseless action like another title we all know. Anyways, right now it's just me and my trusy plasma cutter.
As I mentioned earlier, the Dead Space franchise knows how to pull off the horror mood right of the bat. Dead Space had us slowly exploring the Ishumara S.S. without much ammo as the writing on the wall warned us to aim for the limbs and Dead Space 2 had us running to safety through the halls of an asylum stripped of armor and weaponary but in Dead Space 3, with a loaded Plasma Cutter in hand, I am immediately confronted by Necromorphs. Fans can argue about the approach but it makes sense that Isaac came prepared onto the infested planet.
Carver and I blasted through the Necromorphs near the debris of the improvised landing site as we trekked through the gorgeous snowy landscape. The Necromorphs from Dead Space and Dead Space 2 were back, some had tentacles, others had more limbs, and all were plasma cutter fodder. I am a fan of familiarity when it comes to franchises and though the gameplay had the classic Dead Space shooter brand, I wondered about innovation. After all this was the number 3 in the franchise and co-op mode might not be everyone's cup of tea.
Finding a shed down the snow field, I triggered a cinematic as I entered it. Carver, with a passionate display of personality, not only reminded me that we are here for the Marker (the catalyst of the infection) and not for Ely (Isaac's reason for braving this hell hole). That moment made me realize the innovation to come. Dead Space and Dead Space 2 had the player alone in the belly of the beast so to speak, but from now on Carver was tagging along with Isaac. Dead Space's intricate and intimate playing experience will now have more of a view that reflects a difference of opinion regarding everything that is going on. If Carver and Isaac have two different goals right off the bat then there are definitely going to be some interesting moments.
After the cinematic ended, I was faced with the puzzle of activating the lift outside the shed. Thanks to my previous experience with the franchise, I knew exactly what to do so I used my E.S.P. powers to power the crank up thus activating the lift. After solving that brain twister, I realized that there was a work shed, another staple of the series, and by visiting it I noticed that items can be upgraded and given to you partner. Though initially the thought of having a co-op mode in Dead Space 3 seemed challenging due to a lackluster Resident Evil 6, it would seem that Visceral Games had put some thought into this. At least more thought than me as I merely walked away from the work shed despite having found a few nifty trinkets.
Up until now, Carver was effective against normal Necromorphs but I still had my doubts regarding an A.I. controlled partner. That changed when we boarded the lift only to be attacked by a gigantic bloated crab legged necromorph. Carver came to my rescue many times acting as both martyr and savior. I took some distance hoping to catch a breath but the creature's A.I. was astounding. After a long battle Carver and I prevailed while I realized that the co-op mode in Dead Space 3 seems to be focused more on gameplay than gimmicks.
Up till now Dead Space 3 has proven that, gameplay wise, the engine is as competent and appropriate as it has ever been. I haven’t noticed any major innovations but hey, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Movements are fluid, controls are responsive, combat is engaging, and most important Carver is not a gameplay prop or obstacle.
Near the end of the demo was another colossal task that did the visceral engine of Dead Space 3 justice. I had seen snow, caves, building interiors, detailed enemy models, enticing landscapes, and a gigantic frozen Necromorph but the task I am about to dwell on was pulled flawlessly without any lag or graphical compromise.
In a dim lit room, I brought an enormous rig sized drill to life but it spun out of control rampaging everywhere. Amidst the anarchy, a swarm of Necromorphs assaulted the both of us. Sparks flew as the drill scrapped the iron floor. I used statis on the drill to slow down its carnage while Carver, more than helpful, was blowing Necromorphs left and right. The whole act was intense action oriented fun without any lag or slowdown. That scene itself made me realize that Dead Space 3 is on the right track.
So far, for me, Dead Space 3 demo shows that it might be a perfect marriage. The title has something old, the familiar foe, something new, Carver, and something borrowed, the Action of recent releases such as Resident Evil 6. Dead Space 3 seems to be just as thrilling, challenging, nerve wrecking, and intense as the previous entries of the franchise and what makes it even better is that your buddy gets to come along for the ride and not feel like just a prop shooting left and right. Carver, from what I can see, will be a handful and seems to be the polar opposite to an established silent Isaac. My one gripe is that Isaac was forced into action right away as opposed to the buildup of the Necromorph’s presence in the previous titles.