Dead Space 3 Demo Preview

I got my early access key for the Dead Space 3 demo on Tuesday, for the Xbox 360, and finally got around to taking a look last night.  As well as the usual single player missions, this demo includes a preview of the new Co-Op mode and the Weapon Crafting Arena.

The demo starts with Isaac Clarke leaving his crashed ship and wading through deep snow.. it’s a beautifully created world out here in the snow, such a harsh atmosphere and a whistling wind that made me feel cold just hearing it.  You’re prompted to hurry along and find shelter before you die of exposure.. so through the snow, past a few enemies with horrible, sprouting appendages, onto shaky, collapsing platforms..

Dead Space 3 - Hostile Environment

I don’t normally get motion sickness from games, but I started to feel slightly sick during this demo.  I think it was caused by the movement of the character combined with the snow being blown across the screen, and the text pop-ups which I couldn’t quite focus on.  Even standing still, the text seemed to wobble till I just didn’t want to read it any more.  If that wasn’t enough, I then came across a platform which swayed back and forth..

Fortunately, this was only a section of the demo, and it seemed to get better once I’d reached Central Command, almost feeling like a different game.

I should note that I haven’t actually played Dead Space or Dead Space 2 yet.  They’re sitting in my backlog, waiting for me to get around to them.  As a newcomer, I didn’t know the controls, UI or the mechanics.. and the demo didn’t really show me, beyond indication for what I suppose are new features.   The game told me to use the health pack, but I didn’t actually know whether I was low on health or nearly full.  I didn’t realise that the coloured bar down the middle of the backpack represented my health; I just thought this was a part of the backpack design as my attention just hadn’t been drawn to it.  The same went for the stasis meter.  Once you know about them, they’re great.. neatly tucked out of the way yet still easily checked.

I found the same sort of thing with the power mechanism inside the Central Command building.. this was the first item I had to control with kinesis.  The text instruction told me to aim and press B to grab the object, then press B to turn.. but nothing seemed to happen.  I actually left it and wandered around the room again, thinking there was something else I was meant to do first.  What I was supposed to do was repeatedly press B, and this was indicated by a gently flashing B on the stasis meter of the backpack, which I just hadn’t noticed.  It’s a nice, non-obtrusive way of telling you what to do, but if you don’t know to look for it it’s easy to miss.

After powering up the lift, and reaching the top, I met the first of the larger enemies.. a huge spidery creature with stray, waving appendages.  The trick here was to dismember him for extra damage!  He kept on coming, though, regenerating these legs and trying to knock me down.. I was glad of the stasis shot to put some distance between us!

Dead Space 3 - Combat

Deformed alien creatures aren’t the only enemies in Dead Space 3.  There’s also a human force: The Children of Altman, who want to kill Isaac Clarke, to protect the future of their religion and race.  When I first met some of these forces, there was a shoot-out in an area filled with boxes.. plenty of cover, but the ranged shooting didn’t feel especially accurate, and I found myself rushing the enemies instead.  Close combat was a lot more fun!  There was added chaos when fights broke out between the humans and aliens, or when humans turned into aliens with waving Resident-Evil-esque limbs where the torso used to be.. this was my favourite part of the demo by far!  In the next building, I discovered small, headcrab-like things taking over the downed humans.. these were great to shoot, and provided a few scares when they latched onto me instead!

The next-to-last section of the demo had me facing a huge, out-of-control drill.  I had to destroy the drill before it mangled me, but there were enemies flooding onto the arena and it was more frustrating than fun as each kill seemed to result in another enemy appearing and I just couldn’t move for them.  Perhaps with a different weapon I’d be able to drive them away more effectively

The final shoot-out was a return to the fun combat, though it was cut short by the appearance of a massive worm-like creature..

New to the Dead Space series is the Co-Op gameplay.. it’s drop in, drop out, with changes to the story to account for the second player, and obvious benefits such as players being able to revive and cover their partner.  Unfortunately, co-op is online only, so I wasn’t able to drag Tim along for the ride.

Dead Space 3 - Engineering Destruction

I also enjoyed playing around with the weapon crafting, which is also available to check out on the official website.  During the game, players collect various items which can be used to upgrade or craft new weapons.  For the demo, we’ve been supplied with extra items so we can play around more freely.

There were lots and lots of options.. light or heavy frames for one or two handed weapons, a choice of tools for upper and lower slots, with adapters to adjust the effects, and extra attachments that can help you do even more damage, collect more ammo, gain bigger boosts from med packs and even boost your co-op partner’s abilities too.   After creating a weapon, you can summon monsters to try them out on too 😉

Public access to the demo begins on 22nd Jan, for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  Dead Space 3 will be available for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on 8th February in Europe.

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