Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Preview: Dead Space 3 (360, PC, PS3) UPDATE

After speaking with Dead Space 3 executive producer Steve Papoutsis, while he scarfed down some lunch, there are a few additional pieces of information about the game not previously covered in our preview.

I asked if Dead Space 3 rounded off the trilogy in any significant way; if this was the end of Isaac Clarke. Papoutsis noted that the Dead Space universe was filled in long before Clarke arrived on the scene. There were considerable resources put into creating an interesting universe and answering some of the bigger questions – What is Unitology? What’s a necromorph? What is the purpose of the Markers? – before focusing efforts on telling the personal story of the unluckiest engineer in the universe, Isaac Clarke.

Papaoutsis notes that there are other stories going on in the Dead Space universe and they’d love to make more Dead Space games. While I suggest the possibility of moving the series into an open world environment, he instantly thinks of a karting game (which he follows with a laugh).

“We’ll take the series wherever it goes in service of the story.” In the end, that seems to be Papoutsis’ main thrust. If there’s cool story to told with a match-three game in the Dead Space universe, why not? (A match-three was my suggestion, not his.)

Will players get to the end of Dead Space 3 and be satisfied with the conclusion? Further, will I have to go hunting and pecking for the story, rather than blast through the game and not have a clue of what’s happening or the larger picture of what’s happening behind the scenes? I cited Halo 4 as a game that I played through from start to finish and had almost zero sense of the story because I didn't go looking for it.

“Players will be able to drive through the campaign and get the story of Dead Space 3,” says Papoutsis. “It’s the extra texture – meanings of certain symbols, clues to what a facility used to be used for – that the hunter/gatherer type player will appreciate, but it’s not stuff that’s central to the story.”

My curiosity about the story and its larger context somewhat satisfied, Papoutsis took the opportunity to explain the co-op mode in some detail.

Players will be able to save their character’s progress – from single-player or co-op – and jump into a co-op game taking all their goodies with them. Half-way through the game and your pal is on level one? No big deal. Players take all their gear and upgrades with them when they slide into a co-op game.

I asked the obvious questions: Wouldn't that break the game? Make it too easy? Does the difficulty scale with the abilities of the players involved?

No. It might. No. Were the respective answers from Papoutsis.

“The answer to being too easy is simply up the difficulty level on the fly.” The main point being Dead Space 3 will be as easy or as difficult as the player wants it to be, especially with the option for a “New Game +.”

At the end of the conversation, I was actually more excited about the game, which is a good sign to me. It tells me that the developer is genuinely excited about his game and is chomping at the bit to see it in the hands of gamers.

Dead Space 3 ships for PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on February 5, 2013 in North America; February 8, 2013 in Europe.

And if you want to follow Papoutsis on Twitter – he has been given away early demo codes for Dead Space 3 – check him right here: @leveluptime.

- Aaron Simmer