Dead Space 2

E3 2010: Dead Space 2 Preview - The Pack, Puzzles & Pukers

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“What you’re going to see is from relatively early on in the game,” says Dead Space 2’s Art Director, Ian Milham, behind closed doors at this year’s E3. “Isaac’s on the Sprawl, which is a giant city in space that’s set on one of the last remaining shards of the moon, Titan.”

“He is in his upgraded mining suit,” continues Milham, “and right now he finds himself in the frozen crypts underneath the Church of Unitology” – which is incidentally a good ten minutes before the events seen in EA’s press conference. The crypts are a stark contrast to the stylised and architectural masterpiece that sits above it in the church, what with its icy, claustrophobic corridors and canisters like something from a science experiment gone wrong littering both sides of the walkway.

With Necromorphs making a nuisance out of themselves by smashing out of the canisters and walls on both sides, Isaac’s progress is slow and arduous. While the church scene itself places the emphasis on combat – which seems a tad more action orientated this time around – this preceding section opts for the more traditional survival-horror and gives us an insight into a few more of the puzzles that Dead Space 2 will throw at us.

In his search for an escape route to the surface, Isaac first has to use a cargo lift and head down even further to seek out an alternative route. Upon reaching the bottom of the lift, Isaac makes his way into a large cylindrical room – it was almost like being inside a silo – and with a fan at the top, it’s clear that the only way for Isaac is up. In order to achieve that ability to scale vertically though, Isaac must first solve a fairly simple puzzle and turn off the gravity.

I call it a puzzle, but it’s about as mentally intensive as undoing the lid of a jam jar. Isaac literally has to use his engineering skills to lock down 6 pins – 2 at a time and adjacent from one another – once he’s done that, he can activate zero gravity to make it up towards the chamber’s fan at the top. The new zero-G environments will feature full 360-flight and navigation this time around which is sure to please fans. Once at the top, it’s a matter of using the stasis to slow down the fan and pass through to advance towards the Church of Unitology.

Seeing as it’s relatively early on in the game though, expect more complex puzzles as the game progresses. Milham commented that the engineering skills will allow for some more “intuitive, interesting puzzles, than like “take the sapphire, put it in the statue and stuff like that.””

There were a couple of key things to stress up until this point that Visceral were looking to show off; namely the new enemy, the “Puker,” whose jaw opens up to spew harmful acid at Isaac; and more importantly, the ability to strategically dismember the Necromorph’s spiked limbs and use them against his foes – a great way to save ammo, which as Milham points out, is essential in a survival-horror game such as this.

Switching out of the mining suit and into the advanced suit, which is one of several new suits in Dead Space 2, Isaac enters the Church of Unitology which is a suitably scary, archaic and awe-inspiring environment. With gold plated Tutankhamun-esque statues on either side of the entrance, there is a haunting silence as Isaac enters the building. This is definitely a more combat intensive scene as you start the scene with a scripted QTE style scene against a huge beast, before being swarmed by The Pack – small child-like Necromorphs that look to overwhelm with their numbers. Aside from making use of the dismembered limbs once again, Visceral also use the Javelin gun quite a lot here – a large spear firing weapon that can stick Necromorphs to the scenery with relative ease.

As Isaac exits the church, we first catch a glimpse of Sprawl’s – dare I say it – huge, sprawling surface. The peace doesn’t last long and it’s a matter of seconds before a gunship appears and peppers Isaac with gunfire; breaking the window and removing the gravity in the process as the large vacuum of space looks to suck Isaac out. Our intrepid explorer – via a QTE – pulls himself to safety and when I say safety, I mean through a chute and down to face another ginormous beastie. After being dragged around the blood-splattered room with Isaac shooting the yellow pods on the beast in typical Dead Space fashion, he manages to get a bit of respite by using kinesis to open a door. However, the battle spills over into the next room and seconds later, Isaac and the beast are sucked out into space, only to continue their battle on the hull of the gunship. And in typical, “oh man, what happens next?” fashion, the demo ends.

It’s quite clear from the few times that we’ve seen Dead Space 2 in action over the last few months that Visceral are clearly quite adept at taking this franchise forward and running with it. With new enemies, new weapons, a new environment, gameplay enhancements and finally, a non-mute character, Dead Space 2 is looking to build on its predecessor in every field.

“He’s going to be driving the story,” noted Milham about Isaac for Dead Space 2, “He’s going to be calling the shots this time,” and judging by this recent showing, there’s going to be a lot of shots to call... and fire!

Dead Space 2 is slated for a January 25th and January 28th in North America and Europe respectively.


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Game Info
Visceral Games
Electronic Arts


US January 25, 2011
Europe January 28, 2011

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