Visit: Dead Space

“Imagine if we were to dismemberment what Burnout is to crashes.” Glen Schofield, creator of Dead Space


In case you don’t know already, Dead Space (visit the official site here) is a huge upcoming game (to be released on October 20th, 2008) f rom EA Redwood Studios in California. What’s it about? Let me allow the fact sheet to tell you a bit about it: When an immense mining ship, the USG Ishimura, comes into contact with a mysterious alien artifact in a remote star system, its communications with Earth are mysteriously cut off. Engineer Isaac Clarke is sent to repair the Ishimura’s communications array, but he arrives to find a living nightmare—the ship is a floating bloodbath, the crew unspeakably mutilated and infected by an ancient alien scourge. Clarke’s repair mission becomes one of survival as he fights not just to save himself, but to return the artifact to the planet … at any cost.

Entering EA lobby!

So off I would go, from New Brunswick to California! My day began early, super early in fact. I was picked up at 3:30 AM by my friendly limo driver who got me to the airport in time. After a short flight from Moncton to New York, I was back on a plane destined for California. The flight was long, and with delays I had my gargantuan frame crammed in a too-small-for-normal-people seat for over 7 hours. I had planned to catch a few z's at the hotel but that was impossible due to the prior delays. Exhausted, I checked into the beautiful Sofitel hotel and made my way to the room on the seventh floor. I grabbed a quick shower and found a bit of time to lounge around naked and then met the others in the lobby around 7pm.

It was a true nerd convention, but these people were my kind of nerds. Of course I use term affectionately as these guys were for the most part very friendly, interesting and down to earth. I quickly made friends with some awesome people like Dougie from Stickskills, Ryan from Dread Central, Alex from CHUD, and Jack from AICN. I think EA really deserves some props for creating this community day for sites that aren't just about gaming, but also about horror. They even invited guys from their forums to check out the game. Very classy and clearly the work of a passionate team who knows their audience, to say the least.

We started our official business with a presentation from various members of the development team, like Producer Chuck Beaver, Art Director Ian Milham (who I personally interviewed later), Producer Rich Briggs, and Senior Lighter Dave Blizard (I had no idea what he was saying, but he made it look cool). Ian was the art director and just a super guy, very intelligent, approachable and friendly. In fact, he was just one of many friendly dudes we'd meet. Everyone we met who worked on the game was like someone I'd like to hang out with. There were no suits or corporate jerks, just people who looked like they'd really want to play the game they were working on.

But what about gameplay, you ask? Hell yes, I got to play the game, and played it for about 3 hours or so. Now, this isn't a hardcore gamer site so if you want to know any serious facts, you should check out another site. But let me tell you what I know as a pretty serious casual gamer who loves horror- this game friggin' kicks my ass. I won't speak in too much detail because some of the things I did were embargoed, meaning they are under wraps. But let me tell you, I was impressed with what I played. Almost right from the outset, you’ve got monsters breathing down your neck in a terrifying corridor chase that will leave you whimpering as monsters literally break through what you believe to be your only ‘safe zone’. Control is tight, and after about 5 minutes, you'll get used to it.

Chuck Beaver  shows off the gun!

Gameplay is not shooter style, but survival horror style, which we were warned about. Enemies are tough and absolutely awesome. They're all these mutated humans with bones sticking out everywhere, ambling around and leaping at you when the time is right. The key to survival is dismemberment, which is not a gimmick but a core gameplay mechanic. There will be times you shoot straight at a dude and it won't even faze them. You need to slow bad guys down by cutting shit off, arms, legs, heads, you have to stop them. And once you immobilize them, you can stamp on the mofos to make sure they are dead (something I had way too much fun doing). Enemies are smart and fiercely adaptive, they change based on your attack patterns to keep you on your toes. They can also play dead and hide in grates, leaping up to scare the BeJesus out of you when you least expect it. And how about graphics? This one is sharp. Every screen I saw the game played on was a hi-res one, and the game always looked great. I even saw this game on a theatre screen and it still looked sharp. The models are very detailed, and the backgrounds have a lot of little graphical touches that go the extra mile.

The atmosphere is tense, dark and creepy. After gameplay sessions, I overheard several pro gamers saying they leapt from their seats and had the wits scared out of them. The navigation system is cool, as you can send a beam out that tells you where to go. What else can I say about my time with Dead Space? Oh, did I mention that you use slow motion (stasis) to slow enemies and environmental hazards down? How about that you acquire telekinesis to move things with your mind? What about flamethrowers, and awesome alt-fire options for each gun? And another huge thing: the game has no HUD and it is a functional system! Health is on your back, ammo and other counters are visible, and you can bring up your own map. This makes for a much more realistic and immersive experience. Games have done this before, but never this well. Dead Space gets very hard too, as we were thrust into a later level and told we would die many times. We did die, and it was awesome having my own limbs severed, punctured and stabbed.

The most amazing thing for me came in a later level. I was walking through a dark hallway and suddenly was grabbed by a huge tentacle monster. It dragged me away and I assumed this was a cutscene. It dropped me at the end of the hallway and then I got up, it retreated back into its hole. I got up, and then right after shaking off cobwebs, was pulled back in the hole and eaten. My jaw dropped as I then realized that I was in control and had to shoot this beast when it grabbed me! This wasn't a cutscene, but actual gameplay, and that amazed me and completely won me over. There’s just so much information that I got, it is hard for me to relate it all to you properly. There are so many little details that I thought were so great, that I can’t even remember them all.

When a game is simply working, then it’s hard to find things to complain about. And that isn't even the tip of the iceberg folks, I haven't even talked about the puzzle-like mechanic of Zero-G, where you jump from wall to wall, avoiding spikes and floating enemies. I can't even do it justice in typing it, you need to see it for yourself. They showed us a detailed portion of the game and it was just awesome. And not only this, but everyone pushed how amazing the game's ending is. I don’t know anything about it, but if they say it's awesome (cause believe it or not, they didn't toot their own horns much, and remained very humble and thankful during both days), then it must be badass.

Gaming it up!

Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed with EA's site, their employees, and most importantly, their friggin' game. It was really cool of them to fly me out there despite the fact that our site focuses more on films. I'm also really glad the game didn't suck, because I would have hated to waste my time and their money and then come back to the site to spread the bad news. I'd especially like to thank Andrew Green, the guy who flew us out there- he was a great host, a funny guy, and a very friendly individual. I also recommend checking out NoKnownSurvivors.com, as it will be launching soon and it's apparently going to be HUGE.




Source: AITH



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