Last week, Xbox 360 players who signed up for the early access of the Dead Space 3 demo got an email that included a redeemable code that allows you to download the demo. I was one of those lucky few that got the mail. As I waited for the download to finish, I was praying that this demo would remove all the doubts I had with the game. But sadly, it just remained the same.
The demo was really all about showcasing all the changes done for the third game. The drop-in. drop-out co-op, the very deep weapon customization, and the new setting. You can't really get a grip about the story in the content given so people worried about spoilers, you won't get any. in fact, this demo is actually the content shown during last year's E3, so nothing new for people have seen it. This is all about getting the feel of the changes.
The new Bench system
The bench system now allows weapon crafting and it's just amazing, it allows you to make any weapon you want. Want a plasma cutter that shoots nails as an alternative? Or a machine gun that can also push back anything in front of you? There are eight ways to customize your weapon, so the combinations felt endless. I spend more time on the bench than in the playable demo because I was having fun being all creative with my weapon designs. After finalizing your weapon, you can even sent the blueprint of that weapon to a friend, or store it just in case you decide to build it again in the future.
With this new weapon customization, they got rid of currency in the game. Resources is now what's needed to survive and you can literally find it everywhere in the game. Instead of buying items and equipment from the store, you head over to the bench and create weapon parts and healing items using the resources you picked up along the way. It turned out interesting because you are placed in a position to carefully manage where to use your resources. Should I create upgrades for my weapons? make more parts? Or use them to make healing items. It brings more thought as you hit the bench since some items require certain resources that are also required in weapon upgrades.
After going crazy over at the bench, I finally went on with the demo. At first glance I noticed how amazing the game looked. During the demo, there are a couple of amazing views of this snowy graveyard. Visceral Games definitely did a good job with the game's location and background visuals. This was the first time I stood there and enjoyed the scenery in a Dead Space game, but maybe because this is the first time they constructed large-scale areas. I wasn't digging the whole snowy environment at first, but experiencing it first-hand made me think this could work. It gave me a Lost Planet vibe, which is actually a good thing.
Dead Space heading the wrong direction
The way you control Isaac/Carver is the same as previous games with two additions - The cover system, and rolling in any direction. The rolling is not a problem, but the cover system is just bad. How do you do it? Just press the aim button when you are behind cover. It's no sticky cover system, thank god, it's simply you ducking, and if you press the aim button again, you stand up just a bit to shoot. You get introduced with this feature when you encounter your first batch of human thugs shooting at you. It's a cover system I can work without really. I don't see any difference if I decide to strafe from out of cover then into cover. It's not like this is the first time a Dead Space game included enemies that shoot at you.
I played the demo twice: First alone, then co-op for the second run. Playing alone, you get the usual conversations with characters seen in previous games, while playing co-op, you get additional banter between Isaac and Carver. But we all know about the change in dialogue thanks to the many trailers reminding us of it. What surprised me was, alone or with a friend, the amount of tension is about the same. No change in gameplay, with co-op you just have someone tagging along. With all the big necromorphs, gun fights with soldiers, and co-op mode, it felt like a whole different game.
The audio, which is a big factor in games like these feel a bit lacking. The heavy snow effects and constant action overwhelms any audio that tries to give that scary atmosphere. I didn't get the same effect when I first tried out the first two games. Hopefully as you go farther into the game, they give you the good old creepy scenarios forcing you to enter in order to progress. There will definitely be areas like that, but the big question is - Did the scary elements of Dead Space 3 go way down? It feels that way from what I experienced.
Will you be getting the full game?
When I finished the demo, I had no urge whatsoever to put down a pre-order. I was more worried than ever. Dead Space 3 feels like a game that I'll regret buying on day 1. Yes, this is just a demo, but it gave me a good picture of what I'm getting into. I want a survival horror that requires me to take it slow, save your bullets, and play smart. I don't think I'll be getting that here. You most probably will get a great co-op experience, but that's not what I'm after in this franchise. If this is the direction they plan on taking moving forward, the future of Dead Space doesn't look good.
The Demo comes out tomorrow, January 22.