Today I get to play as the most resilient, strong stomached and crazy assed character of all time. That’s right, Isaac Clarke is back in this years Dead Space 3 and I intend to give you the full lowdown of the demo I played earlier. I’d also like to point out that I’ve never played a Dead Space game before. I have however, seen a friend play the first two games and know the story pretty well.
After breaking up on re-entry, Isaac wakes up to discover himself stranded on the hostile plains of Tau Volantis with Ellie and the crew scattered, or possibly dead. The weather is harsh in this area, with snow and debris of the ship lying all around. Our only option is to press forward in hope of finding the missing crew members and a way to survive.
It’s evident in this first area of the demo that Dead Space 3 has received a big improvement to the visuals since the last instalment. The character models and surrounding area, although slightly masked by the weather conditions, look very impressive. The initial music adds to the atmosphere well.
Moving on I encounter some Necromorphs using the weather conditions to their advantage. Being a first time player I expected to struggle initially with the controls, but one quick look at the layout had me set for the duration of the demo. I noticed that a side roll has been added in for more maneuverability when dodging incoming enemy attacks which is a nice improvement. Combat seems to be as intense as ever and with multiple enemies advancing on you quickly, stasis is at vital as ever.
The variety of weapons has increased greatly and included in the demo is the new assault rife gun. This seems to be a decent addition but doesn’t compare to the accuracy of the plasma cutter which I stick with throughout. The customisation of weapons has also undergone a big change. You are now able to craft your own weapons from scratch, or by finding blueprints, upgrade them and add attachments with lootable scrap items found while exploring. Guns can even be added together if you so desire.
A new edition is a group of human enemies fighting under the S.C.A.F. logo (Visceral Games should really keep up to date on their British slang). These humans are hostile to Isaac for whatever reason and use assault rifles much like the one I mentioned earlier. I also noticed a number of new Necromorph enemies throughout the demo, including dead S.C.A.F. members.
The best set piece of the demo comes near the end when Isaac is trapped in the immediate vicinity of a huge rotating drill itching to turn his body into a rag doll. In order to escape you have to fight off waves of enemies and solve the puzzle of turning off the drill itself, which I wont spoil in case you wish to play. This is another brilliant showcase for the visuals and intense combat. Even when the drill is at high speed and filling the entirety of your screen you can still pick out enemies and see where to move to avoid being minced.
After completing the demo I have very few gripes from what was an intense, visually stunning and well designed portion of the game. Normal difficulty (which was the only option available) was just a little to easy for me however. Whether or not this was done intentionally for the purposes of the demo or not im not sure, but being able to try at a all difficulties would have been nice.
I also didn’t get to try co-op, but I’m not sure it would be the kinda thing I would have enjoyed anyway. Scary and intense games are always best played alone, with your imagination running wild at every sound and shadow. Playing with a co-op parter might detract from the atmosphere a little.
The demo certainly pulls out the stops when it comes to making you jump. The scariest moments are often not when you have enemies all around you, but when everything is quiet and you’re waiting for the next attack. It’s at these times the music and eerie noises play their best part at creeping you out.
The Dead Space 3 demo was released today, exclusively to Xbox 360 owners who registered their interest and their details on the official website. It will be made available to everyone from the 22nd of January.