Dead Space 3
Dead Space 3 Hands-On Preview - Cold Fear
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Much has been made of Dead Space 3's supposed 'new direction' that apparently sees Visceral taking the franchise ever-deeper into action shooter territory. And now you can share the terror with a friend should things get too scary for you, which some might say kind of defeats the object of being a 'survival horror' game altogether. Where's the survival if you've got a friend to help you out? Where's the horror if you've always got someone to watch your back at every turn? Valid questions perhaps (although they're essentially the same question), but Visceral has the answers in our first hands-on with Dead Space 3.

In fact, Dead Space 3 is all about providing answers, with Isaac Clarke and his co-op buddy EarthGov soldier Sgt. John Carver crash landing on Tau Volantis, where they'll find the key to that ubiquitous towering red marker that's at the root of the Necromorph infestation. That's the idea anyway. Amid the hostile environment and sub-zero temperatures, you'll encounter new species of Necromorph, more Unitology nutters who worship the marker and some enormous, highly evolved creatures that'll serve as the game's epic, large-scale boss battles. Chances are you'll be thankful for Isaac's dodge roll and a buddy waiting in the wings to lend a hand.

Starting off with a traditional single-player demo, we pick things up at the beginning of chapter 2 with Isaac stalking the decaying, rusty corridors of a typically dark and foreboding deserted research vessel. As ever, the audio is exemplary, filling the claustrophobic spaces with creaking and deep guttural sounds that keep you constantly on-edge, and the lighting still plays tricks with fleeting glimpses of shapes and objects in the darkness. So far, so Dead Space. We feel immediately at home walking slowly through narrow passageways with a plasma cutter and a flashlight primed and at the ready, nervously watching every little ventilator fan and entry point where Necromorph nastiness might enter.

Lulled into a false sense of security as we open doors by turning handles using Isaac's telekinesis (TK), it's not long before we're set upon by a couple of Lurkers, shooting barbs from their tentacles. From here on out, all hell breaks loose as we're attacked by good old-fashioned Slashers jumping out of vents and speeding towards us from all directions. This is where Isaac's ever-reliable stasis comes into play, enabling you to buy time and space to tactically dismember enemies.

Anyone worried that Visceral is abandoning the Dead Space formula by throwing the baby out with the bathwater needn't worry. Dead Space 3 still has the same all-pervading sense of dread at work, and those same beats where everything seems far too calm before a Necromorph appears out of nowhere to scare the living crap out of you. Yes, Isaac can now roll in any direction, crouch and even use cover in a context-sensitive non-sticky manner, but at its heart, Dead Space 3 still essentially plays like the series always has. The new additions feel natural and non-invasive, without making the game feel like it's venturing into Gears of War territory.

Further into our solo demo we stumble upon a handy weapon bench, which is sadly off-limits for this build, but it shows that you'll still be able to tinker with your arsenal. There are still nodes to collect too, used for opening doors to useful equipment and you'll also have to conserve your ammo lest you run out in a difficult situation. Isaac is still able to melee of course, and you can still make sure a Necromorph is dead by stomping its corpse into several bloody chunks. Eventually, we fight our way into the final area of the solo demo: the tesla room, where we need to extract the tesla core and retrieve a valuable data key to progress.

Deactivating the tesla coils is an invitation for the new Swarm Infectors to pay us a visit however, attaching their tendrils and disembodied heads to the corpses of dead scientists strewn around the room to bring them back to life. Swarm Infectors can resurrect human Unitology soldiers too and even take control of their weapons, so they're a frightening prospect. They look pretty nasty, and like your standard Swarmer they'll attempt to overwhelm you in numbers. Using our plasma cutter and new electrified line rack weapon, we're able to cut the reanimated scientists into pieces, before stomping them into puree with a little bit of judicious use of stasis to slow down the chaos in such an enclosed space.

Here our solo demo ends and it's clear that played alone, Dead Space 3 offers a single-player experience that's exactly like the Dead Space you know and love. There's no AI buddy hampering your progress in single-player, yet if you want to share the terror with a friend, you can have Carver drop in and out of the game at any time. We begin the next section playing the previously hands-off E3 2012 demo, which sees Isaac hanging upside down in the wreckage of his crashed ship, badly injured and covered in snow. Trudging through the white stuff as a vicious blizzard swirls around him, drastically reducing visibility, Isaac paces through the twisted, flaming metal looking for help.

Finding a medikit, Isaac is still able to instantaneously heal himself at the touch of a button, and it turns out he'll need all the medical assistance he can get, as mere seconds after the crash site we're attacked by ice axe-wielding Necromorphs. Bisect them with blasts from Isaac's assault rifle and they'll continue after you as a pair of legs sprouting three spiky appendages from the exposed hole where the torso was once attached at the waist. They're relentless, but easier to manage with the rifle's new secondary force attachment that knocks standard enemies down.

We soon get to see where the action bits come into play after dispatching the maniacal aliens, as we encounter a QTE crawling through the inside of a snow vehicle teetering over a cliff-edge. It's an incredibly tense moment, helped in no small part by the high-pitched strings in the game's score ringing in your ears as Isaac desperately claws his way to safety. For now that is. Making his way through snowy tunnels fighting vicious Necromorph's with mouths like giant lampreys, we soon emerge to find Carver fighting his own battle on the walkway above us in an open snowy arena, clearly designed for a boss battle.

First we go it alone against a terrifyingly fast crab-like beast that can tear you in half and devour you in an instant if you get too close, after it destroys the elevator to the walkway. We quickly get killed, which is where our co-op friend joins in seamlessly for the second attempt. This time, the cutscene where the elevator is destroyed is different, with Carver striving to help pull Isaac to safety and the two characters have an argument before donning their snow suits prior to the crab monster's appearance. There'll be tension like this between Isaac and Carver that should make co-op something worth visiting, although it's an entirely optional addition to Dead Space 3. You can take it or leave it as you see fit, but at the very least it's an option worth considering for a second playthrough.

Taking out the crab beast is certainly easier and dare we say it, more fun with a buddy, as you decide who's on stasis and distraction duty and which one of you targets its yellow weak points. After a while the beast flees and we're onto the next section. Using Isaac's returning ripper weapon, we chop up some more human gun-toting Unitology maniacs as they fight off Necromorphs, before tackling a gigantic drill that blocks the way ahead. Again, using stasis and co-ordinating your actions proves to work well, but that doesn't make it any less frantic as we avoid the drill and the Necromorph onslaught.

With the enormous and unpredictable drill taken care of, we press on to the demo's final boss: the Nexus. A towering tentacled terror, the Nexus spits polyps that dispense skeletal freaks and can only be harmed when you shoot his glowing giblets. After some punishment, the boss vacuums Isaac into its gullet and swallows him whole, leaving him swimming in stomach acid for the demo's conclusion. Lovely.

As ardent Dead Space fans, it was with some trepidation that we approached our first hands-on with Dead Space 3, but we can happily say that it looks sublime and plays as well as any previous Dead Space game. Co-op, rather than being an ill-thought out addition that might dilute the experience, is actually a viable optional extra to mix things up if you're tired of playing alone. If you don't want co-op, you need never bother with it. The single-player core of Dead Space 3 is unaffected and there's no AI-controlled buddy to ruin your solitary ghost train ride. Concern about a lack of scares also dissipated during our hands-on, as we still felt that same sense of fear and uneasiness inherent in the first two games (we even jumped a couple of times). Sure, there might be no beating the claustrophobia, loneliness and feeling of hopeless entrapment you might have felt on the USG Ishimura in the first game, but Dead Space 3 is thinking big. That means for better or worse, there'll be scares on a planet-sized scale alongside the dilapidated laboratories and passageways. Whatever the case, we're excited.

Dead Space 3 is out in 2013.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 72
Comment #1 by Clode101
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 03:04:18 AM
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No AI controlled dildo bouncing around?! Praise be to Yevon.

Forum Posts: 30
Comment #2 by khruz
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 03:13:18 AM
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well thats good news, hope its as good as the other 2

Forum Posts: 526
Comment #3 by WonderCaliban
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 03:13:54 AM
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Sounds good. Praise Altman.

Forum Posts: 21
Comment #4 by creaper210
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 03:25:08 AM
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I love that it's coop. Honestly, I wish a lot more games nowadays had coop. We still have hardly any coop RPGs out there. I can only think of 3 actually.

Forum Posts: 226
Comment #5 by Brengun
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 03:33:04 AM
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I think the single player/co-op debate will continue up until this game gets released. I have faith in Visceral though so I'm sure they will get the balance right.
@4 I'm all for games having a co-op option but RPG's and games like this, survival horror if you like - I always prefer playing solo and always will if I can.

Forum Posts: 8
Comment #6 by radabe
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 04:36:45 AM
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I would love to see an achievement for playing the game solo on the hardest difficulty, like the one they had in halo: reach.

I like this co-op feature now that its optional. Can play the first time solo to experience the fear then enjoy playing with friends.

Forum Posts: 3014
Comment #7 by Dirty130
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 04:43:59 AM
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I like options and having the choice to play co-op or not is great.

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #8 by NINJANUT
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 05:08:56 AM
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Best news I have heard all week! was getting it anyway but now I am happy

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #9 by allusiveturtle
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 05:13:07 AM
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I love Dead Space. From my collection of over 300 360 games, I would definately put it at the very top. I do have major concerns regarding some of the changes made, and fear the those changes will not bring me the DS that I love, but instead, a bloody good action game (which I would still end up buying, as much as I would love to protest about the changes and not buy the game!).

One of the things that most annoyed me about Gears of War was that there was no achievement to show that you had finished the game alone on the hardest difficulty. Therefore I sincerely hope that they allow us to 'willy-wave' this particular accomplishment. Better still would be that they don't include a single co-op achievement. EA keep banging on about the fact that co-op is entirely optional, so put your money where your mouth is and don't force us to play co-op in order to 100% the game.

GOW3 was primarily developed with the co-op experience at its heart, thus my other concern, as was highlighted by the articles writer, is that in allowing DS3 to become easier when played in co-op, is that the single-player mode doesn't then scale effectively (as it didn't in GOW3) and so makes the game almost impossibly difficult when playing alone (similar to the Queen in Gears 3!).

Forum Posts: 271
Comment #10 by the action frampton
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 05:17:07 AM
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'If you don't want co-op, you need never bother with it.'. Let's just hope the achievements follow suit.

Forum Posts: 44
Comment #11 by Solomon Fuere
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 06:18:13 AM
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It's going to suck.

Forum Posts: 20
Comment #12 by heretic555666
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 06:53:16 AM
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I'm hoping it doesn't ruin the series. Still pissed that ea decided to tone down the scariness......n a horror game?

Forum Posts: 250
Comment #13 by Fang Foom
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 07:00:29 AM
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..and everyone got all angry about the co-op..

I'll probably play alone mostly but always fun if my housemates around just to have a mess around killing scary aliens..

Forum Posts: 17
Comment #14 by nazhitsreallyhard
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 07:27:11 AM
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Where are all the idiots who lambasted the game? Come on! Speak up! I told you that this game was still horror. Eat humble pie suckers!!!

Forum Posts: 755
Comment #15 by Hurricane Of 87
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 07:43:25 AM
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Weird about the co-op player causing the cutscenes to change. Wonder if it will still add up to a cohesive playthrough when co-op players keep jumping in and out?

#11: Ah Solomon Fuere, always with a negative one sentence comment. The most half-hearted troll in the building.

Forum Posts: 1102
Comment #16 by ImaginaryRuins
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 08:49:28 AM
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Now this manages to grasp my attention. Good news indeed. Looking forward to the game.

Forum Posts: 35
Comment #17 by Arcane Paradise
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 09:34:37 AM
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@10 Dont hold your breath on that, you know as well as me and everyone else that there will be co-op achievments.

Forum Posts: 246
Comment #18 by atomic viking54
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 09:47:59 AM
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nut sure if i like the idea of a cover system and crouching in dead space....

Forum Posts: 2615
Comment #19 by Venomized
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 10:14:39 AM
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And here everyone was bitching in the last article about co-op because of a possible AI. So all you people whining about co-op can stop now, because co-op shouldn't affect you. You can the game singleplayer, so co-op doesnt change the game for you. As for co-op achievements, if that ruins the game for you then you're not really a dead space fan.

Though I'm sure everyone, or a majority will still be bitch about co-op. Hence the thumbs downs I will receive within time.

Forum Posts: 143
Comment #20 by Painkiller4500
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 10:53:11 AM
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it sure was cold in that grocery store freezer

Forum Posts: 451
Comment #21 by deluxnugs
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 11:14:20 AM
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ive never been scared from a game anyway.ccop sounds long as it has a achievement for going it alone on the hardest setting like halo reach ill be fine with it.

Forum Posts: 6935
Comment #22 by Nevander
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 03:13:58 PM
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Will everyone please stop hatin' on this game. You never even played it and are saying it will suck, mainly because of the inclusion of OPTIONAL co-op. FFS people.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #23 by Jaws as Crowns
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 04:45:52 PM
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And to think people were worried over this. Visceral has got their shot together. Don't worry

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #24 by Wings of Regret
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 07:46:42 PM
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#6 and #21 Have you ever played the first two dead Spaces, they both have hardest difficulty achievemnets, because your connecting it two reach like you havent played them....or do you mean it in the sence that there should be the same SET UP as reach Solo and co-op...enlighten me.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #25 by Wings of Regret
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 @ 09:00:21 PM
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AI human enemies with lines guns.....OR a javelin 0_0

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #26 by allusiveturtle
Thursday, July 26, 2012 @ 04:19:39 AM
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@24 - I think you'll find that #6 and #21, as with my earlier comment at #9 are saying that we would like to see an achievement for having completed the game on the hardest difficulty SOLO. ie. not as with Gears 3, which whilst it had an achievement for completing it on the hardest difficulty, you cannot tell who has completed it in co-op or solo as it doesn't differentiate between the two. I completed Gears 3 on Insane on my own and the end boss was ridiculously hard. When played in co-op, by comparrison, it was a piece of cake, and so I find it irksome to see people who have the achievement for completing it on Insane, but took the easy route, hence, I, and I assume #6 and #21, are saying, firstly, do not include a single co-op achievement, but if you insist on doing so, at least let us wave our willys' by showing that we have done the hardest difficulty on our own.

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #27 by PRIME SUPREMACY
Saturday, July 28, 2012 @ 01:26:42 PM
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Cant wait for this and its crazy cheevos!

Forum Posts: 500
Comment #28 by Powerman1469
Saturday, July 28, 2012 @ 11:50:19 PM
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Forum Posts: 6
Comment #29 by MrCaliAssassin
Monday, July 30, 2012 @ 01:08:49 AM
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Best Game Ever!!!

Forum Posts: 80
Comment #30 by anomalous views
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 @ 12:17:45 AM
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I loved the first two games.... they were wonderfully scary and heart pounding.... Why oh why would they take that fear and excitement away for a co-op option. Yes i know its optional but are you supposed to get scared with a friend right next to you or on a head set?

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #31 by AnonymousTurtle
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 @ 05:23:07 PM
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I feel like the scariness of this game is being sucked out and replaced by action. I don't want this to go down the path of Resident Evil...:(

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #32 by ThDefenestrator
Wednesday, August 01, 2012 @ 04:14:28 AM
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Simmer down, fanboys. If Visceral really weren't worried about co-op effecting the scare factor, they'd have shown the author the sequence solo and then do it over again in co-op to PROVE it, rather than queue up a different sequence that plays to their strengths. Basic PR tactic.

Imagine being the co-op partner in the first sequence trying to line up a shot when your buddy is ahead of you in a crowded corridor surrounded by monsters. Not scary. Annoying. (And, really, guys? Issac and Carver are going to have "tension?" Gee, d'ya think they'll reach some kind of grudging respect for each other by the end of it? D'ya think they'll drop F bombs and crack bad jokes the entire game? Y'know, like every freakin' buddy action movie ever?)

Designing a game to be single player and designing a game to be co-op are completely different. Note that the author doesn't mention a single "scary" thing about the second sequence. It's a pure co-op action scene. Visceral is trying to have it both ways and it isn't going to work. What other examples of co-op horror games are there? F.E.A.R. 3 and Resident Evil 5? Yeah, neither of those were scary either.

Congratulations on wasting your $60. Enjoy your lowest common denominator-baiting 12 hours of cliche. You suckers will fall for anything.

Forum Posts: 12
Comment #33 by Lord Hell
Wednesday, August 01, 2012 @ 11:13:07 PM
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This new co-op system seems interesting, for anyone complaining about the
co-op, just play it alone.

Forum Posts: 59
Comment #34 by Pusha
Friday, August 03, 2012 @ 03:08:33 PM
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Co-op system, I hope doesn't hurt the game. Improving old ideas and create new ones for the Dead Space franchise, maybe? As for how, I'll have some faith in Visceral for that.

Forum Posts: 68
Comment #35 by Kaifory
Friday, August 03, 2012 @ 04:44:29 PM
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I feel like having a partner will make things less scary. I'm interested to see how they create terror when there's 2 people.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #36 by Influhence
Friday, August 03, 2012 @ 06:52:08 PM
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yea i would to see how the 2 player will be in this one

Forum Posts: 7115
Comment #37 by Opiate42
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 @ 08:16:36 AM
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That's all I have to say.


Forum Posts: 9
Comment #38 by Niall1801
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 @ 07:09:23 PM
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I can't wait to play Dead Space 3. I loved the previous 2 games.

Forum Posts: 107
Comment #39 by Darth Bambrox
Monday, August 13, 2012 @ 06:19:50 AM
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Doesnt part of the fear come from knowing that your back isnt covered and that you could be snuck up on at any moment? I seriously hope that in co-op mode there are alot more enemies because that is the only way I can see the fear staying, the possibility of being swarmed at every turn

Other than that the game looks sick!

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Game Info
Visceral Games
Electronic Arts


US February 05, 2013
Europe February 08, 2013

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