Dead Space Preview
Dead Space is Electronic Arts' newest intellectual property, and while we've become used to the idea of next-gen survival horror games being first-person shooters such as F.E.A.R and Condemned, EA's game will instead be a third-person shooter developed by their Redwood Shores studio. It's being put together for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC all simultaneously, with no lead platform designated.
First off, a proprietary engine made by EA is powering this new game, so you won't be playing this game with the Unreal Engine III running it. When revealing the game, EA Redwood stated that Dead Space was inspired by movies such as Event Horizon, The Thing, and Alien; videogame influences obviously include Resident Evil and Silent Hill. The team has crafted a story which revolves around a character named Isaac Clarke. Clarke is a space engineer for Concurdance Extraction Corporation (C.E.C). C.E.C. is a mining company that controls enormous mining ships around the galaxy.
When a particular "Planet Cracker" ship - a planet destroyer, that extracts remaining ore from a dead planet - calls in a distress call, a group of engineers assemble to go investigate the issue. As you can imagine, Clarke is one of the engineers on duty. Upon arrival, the engineers soon realize that the ship had been taken over by an unknown race of aliens, and so the fight to survive begins.
The Necromorphs are this mysterious alien race, they have the ability to inhabit the body of a regular being, distorting and mutating their original shape. From there on, the alien beings can continue to infect others, and the only way to kill the aliens is to dismember them. Yes, dismembering your enemies is how you kill them. It seems a little unusual, as other games usually ask you to shoot in the heart or head, but hey, I'm curious to see just how this is going to play out. There will also be a variety of different Necromorph forms, so you won't be killing the same enemy over and over again.
As mentioned already, gameplay is third-person and utilizes an over-the-shoulder view that is similar to games like Resident Evil 4 and Gears of War. You will often walk through environments where gravity is non-existent, so you'll have to rely on your gravity boots, and that's another aspect of the game I'm anxious to try out. Environmentally, EA is looking to add realism to the game, and one such example given is not hearing a scream when you're in an airless vacuum.
Getting down to action, the game will grant you a number of weapons, abilities, and armor. The primary weapon will be the Plasma Cutter, which is a mining tool used to cut down rocks and such. Instead, you'll use it to sever the heads and limbs of your enemies. Interestingly, simply severing a body part doesn't kill an enemy. Severing a certain enemy's head may cause a smaller alien life-form to crawl out and jump at you. Firing at a pregnant alien will cause additional, smaller lifeforms to come at you, as well. So while the goal is to dismember, you also have to be prepared for surprises. There will also be a gun that'll slow down targeted enemies, allowing you more time to kick some ass.
Clarke's suit plays a pivotal role in the game, and its implementation is reminiscent of Nintendo's Metroid games. The suit connects to the network of the ship, and will automatically update you with information of your surroundings, such as item details, nearby computer stations, and will even display video transmissions via hologram. An energy bar on the spine tracks Clarke's health, and air-supply is fed through the suit, as well, when you're in rooms that have been decompressed. Likewise, gravity boots will keep you planted to a panel when things get...lightweight.
Weapons will be upgradeable, as Clarke's engineering knowledge will enable him to perform item modifications to add more power with every shot. With item modification, things get a lot more fun in Dead Space. Finally, how about a kinetic power that'll allow you to pick up a bunch of different objects and throw them when you're down on ammo? It should certainly be a fun power to use, and is highly reminiscent of Midway's Psi-Ops game.
Dead Space is scheduled for a October 2008 release, so look for the game to arrive then. It's looking very promising, and thankfully, in a world of FPS games, we get to add a third-person shooter to the mix.
4/30/2008 Arnold Katayev