Since the disestablishment and rejuvenation of GAME in 2012, the UK videogames specialist retailer has taken a different approach in its attempts to court the series gamer. As opposed to simply marketing the now defunct Gamestation brand towards the knowing audience with its faux ‘cult cool’ status, the chain has addressed some more interesting propositions. The holiday period saw the launch of the GAME Pad and, as we approach the launch of one of 2013’s early big-hitters, a series of ‘lock-ins’ have been arranged.
With the trial run of the lock-ins events, noted as a run away success by Electronic Theatre, Dead Space 3 was the headline of the event. Showcasing a build that had been made available at previous events there’s was precious little new revelations, but nonetheless playing through already revealed areas allowed for fresh perspective. Offering only single-player gameplay cast as the lonesome Isaac Clarke, the intro to the bite-sized presentation was very action packed with pre-constructed sequences forcing the player down a corridor that is rapidly losing it’s stability in an explosive fashion.
The player is introduced to the videogame’s mechanics by way of force, with the slicing of Clarke’s Plasma Cutter dismembering in a familiar fashion and the close combat being the same sluggish and inaccurate combination of punching and stomping that has always been part of the Dead Space experience. However, the player is now equipped with am evasive roll manoeuvre as well as the ability to crouch. While there was no demand for this later addition in the preview build such an inclusion does spark fears of cover-based combat; something for which Dead Space has not become famous, and arguably doesn’t need.
Working alongside the combat is a complete overhaul of the weapon upgrades system. Opposed to simply using the limited amount of available weapon nodes to upgrade and purchase weaponry, players can create entirely new armaments with components found on their journey. This crafting ability is of course limited to prevent players removing the challenge with an overpowered weapon, and that limit is through the use of Upgrade Circuits and other resources, such as tungsten, semiconductor, scrap metal, somatic gel, and ration seals. Choosing each segment of a weapon in turn, such as the stock and frame, players can create any manner of weaponry and add a cherry to their design with special ammunition, such as incendiary rounds. Players can build weapons from the available blueprints or construct a design entirely from scratch, as well as modify existing weapons and craft helpful new items (med kits and ammo, for example).
Of course, to meet the added firepower options development studio Visceral Games has introduced some gruesome new enemies. Seen in this preview build were the Swarm, a new type of Infector that appears similar to the Divider and Swarmers that allow for multiple bodies to be infected simultaneously, causing a quick flurry of aggression that demands the player prioritises their shots. Familiar enemies such as the Stalkers were also present, and at the time of writing Electronic Theatre is not aware of any previously seen enemies that will not appear in Dead Space 3. Visceral Games is more concerned with expanding the franchise than reining it in, which comes as no surprise considering the growing popularity.
Sadly, the build playable at the event was noticeably inconsistent, with glitches preventing progress on more than one occasion. Doors would lock behind the player preventing them from returning even though the objective marker was directing them to do so and the work benches often required some strenuous negotiation to reach an operational state, if they would allow interaction at all. However Electronic Theatre is confident these issues will be addressed prior to printing the retail disc as they are relatively minor problems in the grand scheme of things and given the popularity of the Dead Space franchise Electronic Arts is unlikely to let this one slip out of the door with such game-halting occurrences.
While a key component of the sales sheets and no doubt box art for Dead Space 3 will be the co-operative gameplay many fans of the original outing and its sequel will return for the single-player experience. At present, Dead Space 3 looks as though it’s shaping up to be just what you would expect from a third title in the series, if not anything more. For that alone Dead Space 3 is worthy of your attention, and hopes remain high that the co-operative part of the experience can live up to the high expectations that have been set for it.