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Preview: Dead Space 3 cranks up the action way past 11

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Posted by: Gregory Hutto

In the past few years, it seems that first installments of a new game series have a specific and unique goal in mind, where following titles depart from these goals in favor of a more straight-forward, action-driven approach. The two best examples of this are Mass Effect and Dead Space. Where the first Mass Effect game sought to be a deep RPG experience, the second installment was more about being a fine tuned game with epic set pieces and action. Similarly, Dead Space turned from a game of adrenaline-fueled atmosphere into a game of instantaneous, relentless excitement. Is Dead Space 3 looking to be more chills than thrills, or are we in store for more Michael Bay-esque explosions?

Well, comparing Dead Space 2 to Michael Bay is admittedly cruel. Yet Dead Space has become unabashedly fast-paced and has sacrificed all notions of subtlety as the series has progressed. Though, I imagine that it’s difficult to not only recreate fear but to make it feel fresh again. Unlike zombies, necromorphs used to be the unknown. They were fast, deadly, cunning, and shooting them in the head wasn’t nearly as effective as taking skillful shots to dismember them. It was unsettling to sit in a near silent Ishimura, standing in place all but knowing the gruesome creatures were about to ambush you from the vents.

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To understand how Dead Space got to Dead Space 3, we have to remember Isaac Clarke. He is, or was, a lowly engineer, turning space-aged shop tools into weapons for survival. Isaac was stuck on the abandoned drilling rig merely trying to make his way to safety. In the sophomore title, he’s institutionalized after shit hits the fan, and left vulnerable as the necromorph infection spreads. With no other choice, Isaac yet again makes his efforts to see tomorrow, and it’s a disaster around every corner. The entire tone for the Isaac’s second adventure is consistently blazing. The consequences of insanity keep the story fresh and introduce a new type of fear altogether.

In Dead Space 3, Isaac is grey-haired, and his life is in shambles. But he also gets to choose his fate in this game, and he decides to be a soldier. In this way, I feel like Dead Space 3 may have divorced its roots and the character elements that made it most compelling and relatable. I can imagine being an engineer if I was born in a different time, but I’m not ever signing up to fight necromorphs. Despite this, there are some poignant questions with perhaps unexpected answers in Dead Space 3.

I like the original Dead Space game most, and despite the second game being less charming and chilling, I had a more raw fun with it. From what I saw, Dead Space 3 is looking to capitalize on this “fun” territory even more. Dead Space 3 is much like 2 in the sense that every scene feels like a cutscene and weaves seamlessly into scripted events. Exploration goes from taking out a few baddies into falling down a shaft and back to gameplay as a new monster arrives. This is done flawlessly and drives the game while allowing the player to feel they’re a part of the interaction even when they’re not.

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Obviously, there are some differences in Dead Space 3 that go beyond its feel and narrative. The new weapons, crafting system, new approach to ammo and more are just as relevant to the game as anything else. Also, there’s co-op and other fun stuff. I honestly didn’t get enough time with them to feel it out as much as I’d like, but luckily the review is coming soon to explain all of that good stuff. Just know that if fusing a plasma cutter with a javelin gun sounds good to you, you’ll definitely be interested in reading more come February 5th.

All I know so far is this: In the three hours I played Dead Space 3, it was quite clear that the game tries to turn its up beyond 11 to some other number not found on my guitar amp. I am also hesitant, because if this game follows the same path as Mass Effect, it could be very disappointing. But maybe Dead Space 3 will be something I don’t expect, and I may love it more than the other two. We’ll just have to wait for the review and see.

Tags: Dead Space, Dead Space 3, EA, Visceral Games, Mass Effect, Survival Horror, Action

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