Dead Space 3 announced its demo release earlier this week for PlayStation 3 (PS3) and Xbox 360. Gaming Illustrated’s Dead Space lovers couldn’t wait to test out the demo and experience the newest addition to the survival horror, third-person shooter franchise. The demo is free for players and, unless gamers fear the Marker, they should be down for downloading.
For players unfamiliar with the Dead Space series, take warning: this series has a lot of blood, necromorphs and dismemberment. Although the demo did not fully exhibit all of these violent yet beloved Dead Space qualities, it was informative and exciting. The main features showcased are the single player campaign, the co-op campaign and the updated weapons bench.
Necromorphs have undergone some aesthetic tweaks but have kept their signature spooky look and sounds. Some necromorphs can now shoot guns, albeit they are pretty bad shots. Beyond necromorphs and the forever-annoying, crazy unitologists, a new element causes difficulties for Isaac; the weather. The actual environment on Tau Volantis is an unforgiving tundra. Poor visibility and freezing temperatures only add to the daunting task of eliminating the necromorph threat. Laudable graphics and soundtrack add to the threatening atmosphere. The demo looks and feels fantastic. The solo mode for Dead Space 3 was entertaining, but not very scary. However, it could be possible Visceral Games is saving the real fear for the game and the demo serves more as an introduction into co-op and more complex weapons.
Many gamers, including some at GI, have expressed concerns that Dead Space 3 may lose its fear factor and dwindle in the ways of dread due to its new cooperative (co-op) mode. Gamers can choose to play either Isaac Clarke or John Carver. When playing in co-op, there is new dialogue and cutscenes for players. More information is given for the status of the mission and character personalities are more easily distinguished. Players do not need to compete for dropped loot or resources as each player will get their own goodies. Weapons benches can be used simultaneously. Gamers who stray too far behind or fly too far ahead will be told to wait until they are reunited with their partner. In the demo, friendly fire is off and enemy volume or strength does not seem to decrease or increase substantially.
Although playing co-op is not scary, the single player experience for the demo also seems tamed. Again, developers could be saving the gore and terror for later. Regardless, decimating necromorph baddies alongside a friend is terribly fun. It may not have been scary but kicking ass together was a nice change from the game’s predecessors. Collaborating on strategy, working together during interactive cut scenes and making jokes while wading through alien foes may even make Dead Space 3 more fun.
Dead Space 3 will also be more complex than previous installments in the series. Upgrading weapons and RIGs will require more brainpower and strategy. Players will need to salvage parts and scrap metal to craft their own weapons or upgrade current ones. Upper and lower tools on certain weapons can also be added or upgraded to make for a more individualized machine. Circuits will also need to be constructed for upgrades. Players will need to craft ammo, health packs and other helpful items in order to survive Tau Volantis. New weapons have also been introduced including the Mjölnir, the chain lightning gun and hydrolic hammer influenced by Norse mythology.
Overall, the Dead Space 3 demo is entertaining and serves as a great tutorial for new and old players. Although the demo is not particularly terrifying, the Visceral Games and EA deserve the benefit of the doubt. Fear aside, the demo did show a polished, smart and emotionally engaging game.
Dead Space 3 is set to release on Feb. 5 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.