Publishing powerhouse Electronic Arts this week officially confirmed Dead Space 3 is in the works following months of rumors, with the game due to infest store shelves by March 2013 at the latest. Details are being kept under wraps at present, though that hasn’t stopped numerous Internet sources from leaking info all over the shop, the most prolific of which involves the game’s alleged setting – a frozen planet known as Tau Volantis.
If the gossip is to be believed, then returning hero Isaac Clarke will be joined by a mysterious scarred individual with eerie, glowing red eyes. This character, who also sports an engineering suit not too dissimilar from Clarke, apparently acts as you guide in the single-player campaign. Sounds intriguing, does it not? Still, while we’re stoked for a third dose of necromorph-dismembering antics, there’s a couple of finer tweaks that developer Visceral Games can make following last year’s relentless, action-packed sequel; just so Dead Space 3 is that much more the authentic horror experience that causes us to sleep with the light on for months.
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BACK TO BASICS
Dead Space 2 was a gory, gripping affair packed full of memorable moments, but in all honesty, it was a bit like the series had fallen into the hands of Michael Bay at times. Action-packed set pieces replaced the tense, stomach-knotting tension of the original, and Isaac Clarke made the transition from silent protagonist to a full-blown, wise-cracking action hero. A great game, but not quite the pant-wetting experience the original provided. As such, we’d like to see Visceral bring things back to basics; less action, more claustrophobic tension and bigger scares. Necromorphs came thick and fast in the sequel, though thanks to the abundance of ammo on hand, you always felt equipped to deal with the situation. We want Dead Space 3 to make us feel pessimistic about going toe-to-toe with the flesh-eating hordes, rather than instilling the confidence that comes with being armed to the teeth. We want to be creeping down a dimly-lit corridor, our senses picking up every minute sound, shape and shadow before being pounced on by some salivating, mutated corpse. Fear is about the foreboding, perpetuating that sickening sensation in your gut that tells you something is coming…but you just don’t know when. The original Dead Space had that, and we want it back – in droves. Elsewhere, given the purported new setting, it’d be great to see the environment play more of part in the proceedings. Imagine having slobbering enemies stalking you through furious snowstorm, your vision limited to just a few feet, giving your foes ample opportunity to attack? This would introduce a new dynamism to combat that would surely accentuate the already tense encounters.
BIG, BAD BOSSES
Okay, so we’ve established we want the core gameplay to evoke that old school horror feeling, but that doesn’t mean Visceral can’t up the ante when it comes to boss battles. Despite boasting an impressive and diverse bestiary, Dead Space had few too many boss battles to speak of, and this is something we’d like to see remedied in the third game. We’ve already had a taster of the monstrosities we could face (such as the Leviathan from the original game), and there’s really no limits to what Visceral could conjure up when toying with the Necromorph template. If they can get as big as the end boss from Dead Space, the sky’s the limit. Aside from the obvious aesthetical pleasure of facing a twisted, towering mutant, bosses would also serve to spice up the gameplay, punctuating the bread-and-butter puzzle solving and battles with some much-needed strategic dismembering. Finding an enemy’s weak point is just one challenge, but actually taking it down is another kettle of fish altogether, and we’d love to see what the developers can come up with. Plus, it’d also give Clarke a chance to utilize a far greater range of weapons and powers than your average scrap, strategically switching out between plasma cutters, rifles and telekinesis. We’d love to see bosses become a staple of the series just as they have in other horror games such as Resident Evil, and we’re sure Visceral can deliver the goods.
SPICE UP THE MULTIPLAYER OR DITCH IT
The past few years has seen a number of developers staple-gunning a multiplayer component to their core single-player franchises, many of which have raised eyebrows among the gaming community. Dead Space 2 is a prime example of this trend, with many arguing the game simply didn’t need it – and we have to agree. Sure, conceptually it sounds intriguing to have Necromorphs and marines hacking and shooting each other to pieces in online bouts, but the execution wasn’t really all that much cop. Aside from the fact hardly anyone played it – making actually joining a game a battle in itself – the controls were sloppy and one side felt horrendously over powered compared to the other. Ideally we’d prefer it if Dead Space 3 focused on the single-player campaign exclusively, but if Visceral does insist on shipping a multiplayer component with the sequel, then at least give it a major overhaul. Keep it separate from the main story, but spruce it up a bit. Worryingly, we’ve heard rumblings of a co-op mode, which seems to tie in with the campaign. In our humble opinion this isn’t the direction the series should be taking; just look at Resident Evil 5’s co-op, which came at a detriment to the overall fear factor. Co-op inherently makes things less tense and scarier when you have someone watching your back, and for Dead Space to return to its gut-wrenching horror roots, then it should be a strictly single-player experience. If co-op is part of the package, then make it a separate affair.