Release Date: February 5, 2013
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows
Necromorphs are bad news, always, but their newly expanded ranks are only one of the worries you'll have to deal with in Visceral Games' Dead Space 3. Isaac Clarke's latest adventure doesn't have to be a solo one, with newcomer Sgt. John Carver coming along for those who play through the story in co-op. It's one of several changes that aim to offer a more accessible Dead Space game for series neophytes.
What We Know:
Dead Space 3 picks up two months after the events of the previous game, with Isaac Clarke being brought in by Sgt. John Carver and his superiors to help investigate a 200-year-old Necromorph infestation on the icy world of Tau Volantis. The Necros were apparently well on their way to destroying everything when the infestation just... stopped. Now it's up to Clarke and Carver to figure out what happened and see if there's anything that can be used to fight the Necromorph threat in the present day.
Visceral designed Dead Space 3 to support both drop-in/drop-out co-op and solo play, with Carver -- the second of the two playable characters -- simply not accompanying Isaac as he explore Tau Volantis in solo campaigns. The story remains fundamentally the same whether you tackle it with one or two players, though situations arise in co-op that are designed to keep players off balance. As we saw in one preview, Carver may see something that Isaac does not, and the two may face different gameplay challenges as a result.
Dead Space 3 brings back many of the old Necromorphs while adding a number of new ones. Feeders seem to be relatively common, a fast-moving humanoid, zombie-like Necromorph that is created when a human dines on Necro flesh. In addition to the alien threat, players will also come up against unfriendly humans from the Church of Unitology. Then there's the planet itself, an icy wasteland the trades the claustrophobia of derelict starships and space stations for the blinding, blizzard-like conditions that characterize everyday weather on the surface of Tau Volantis.
The other major new component in Dead Space 3 is a total redesign of the series' weapon upgrades system. The re-formulated Weapons Bench in Dead Space 3 allows players to piece together weapons of their own design using a variety of components and scavenged materials to combine an assortment of familiar effects. Visceral also offers a number of pre-made Weapons Bench configurations for those who prefer to skip the creative aspect of Dead Space 3's arsenal management.
What We Expect:
The initial announcement of Dead Space 3, which included confirmation that the game would offer a co-op mode, was met with some skepticism. The greatest strength of Dead Space as a series has always been its sense of ambience as an action/horror game, and fans worried that having a second character joining Isaac -- and a second human player blabbing in your ear -- might take away too much from the more fear-inducing elements of the game.
Visceral addressed this concern in a couple of ways. For starters, the option of playing through entirely as a solo Isaac remains. The story flexes around this choice, with Carver's role as an omnipresent companion removed in single player games. Recent previews also demonstrated that co-op brings its own set of anxiety-inducing content, with Isaac and Carver often bearing witness to different sights in a nod to one or the other's deteriorating sanity.
It's hard to escape the notion when you actually go hands-on with the upcoming game that Dead Space 3 is, ultimately, just more Dead Space. That's not a bad thing. The play has been tweaked in a number of ways, but the spirit of the series seems to be intact. You'll all be able to get a taste for yourselves when a playable Dead Space 3 demo is released on your digital distribution platform of choice (consoles only) later this month.
Be sure to check out more of G4's 2013 video game previews throughout the month of January!