Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dead Filler

The Dead Space franchise is steadily approaching it's third iteration provided you don't count all those spinoff games, comic tie-ins, the novel and the animated movie.  Based on what I've seen so far it doesn't look very promising.  Granted the original game was fairly derivative, borrowing concepts from a slew of horror films along with other survival horror games (namely Resident Evil 4).   I wont knock it for that though.  If your going to use other peoples' ideas it's best to steal from the masters such as Shinji Mikami, Isacc Asimov and Arthur C. Clark.  At least then the copy your making will be clean and crisp.

Looking back on Isacc Clark's first outing I can still pick up on some of the more carefully crafted bits that went into the design process.  The sci-fi Gothic architecture of the USG Ishimura gives off an aura of claustrophobia and oppressive danger adding to an already ever present need to get off the ship.  The hard metallic bone-like skeletal suit worn by the player character contrasts bizarrely well with the soft necrotic flesh bags which hunt him at every turn. Then there is the ubiquitous Church of Unitology, creating and element of paranoia on top of the madness produced by exposure to the alien Markers. So, while the game was less than original, it was a finely tuned nostalgic trip down horror lane. Unfortunately, the sequel didn't take the series anywhere new and worse yet lost some of its charm by virtue of being a copy of a copy in many respects.

Now, having seen the E3 trailer and demo I find myself looking at a copy of a copy of a copy which is called Dead Space 3.  All horror elements are faded and washed out. Necromorphs are no longer scary since Isacc can cut through them with ease. Rolling, taking cover and shooting soldiers only muddles the experience further. The word "dismemberment" could just as easy be applied to the story as it could the gameplay. Oh and drop in drop out co-op has been added for the sake of "bro-mance" (especially so when you consider that the main character's female love interest appears to perish at the beginning).

On the artistic side of things haunting zero-G vistas have been replaced by snowy landscapes which honestly feel like a rip off of Lost Planet or The Thing (the game not the movie).  Even the engineer suit has been redesigned to look more and more like something a comic book superhero would wear.  The creeping dread of stalking the corridors of a foreboding planet cracker starship have been replaced with trivial quicktime events and tension dispelling cursing.  Worst of all though is the huge amount of wasted resources poured into this title.  So much so EA claims that Dead Space 3 needs to sell five million copies to be worth while. Maybe there's too much dead wood at the developers offices? Regardless, going for a broad dude-bro audience isn't going to save this IP. A hefty dose of fear along these lines might breath new life into it though:

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