Dead Space News

Blast off into spaaaaaaace! ... oh wait, that's a bad thing.

Blast off into spaaaaaaace! Wait, this is the opposite of what I wanted...

So Kotaku reports that EA is not only working on Dead Space 3, but also spinning off the main series with a first person shooter, adventure and… flight game. Furthermore, Dead Space 3 maybe the last game to star everyone’s favorite systems engineer, Isaac Clarke.

Huh. To be honest, I’ve got mixed feelings about these developments.

In one sense, I get it. EA wants to really develop a rich, interesting and original universe of its own that no one else has. And they’ve been doing that already, not only with Dead Space and its sequel, but the various spin off titles, comics, animated films and novels. Clarke, though a deeply interesting character I’ve come to admire, isn’t necessarily central to EA’s success.

I really do agree with Kotaku’s statement that these genre changes really risks moving a game great series away from its roots. First person shooter? Not much of a stretch given how great Doom 3 was in combining horror with fighting. Adventure game? Yeah, I guess it can work if they do it right, maybe.

Flight game? What?

The only way I can see this game working is if we move away from the horror aspect, as in the necromorphs, and focus on the rising conflict between the Church of Unitology, EarthGov, and any other factions we’ve yet to see. In other words, it would be a politically influenced game rather than survival horror.

Yeah, that worked well for Pitch Black‘s sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick. Oh, wait…

I’m also sad to hear how this maybe the last we see of Isaac Clarke. Whether he’s going to die or simply fade into the canonical background, I don’t know. It’s a real shame that modern gaming heroes can’t have the same timeless, lasting appeal of cute, round heroes like Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario or Link.

Nope, instead we’re getting used to bidding adieu to these characters after their trilogies and main arc series are complete. The Master Chief of Halo, Kratos of Gods of War, and Solid Snake of the Metal Gear Solid series. They come into our gaming lives with their dramatic and intense tales, leave their mark and then fade away into gaming history.

Gone but never forgotten. Not a hero, but a legend.

But there’s something about Isaac Clarke that is… I don’t know. Beyond mysterious. It’s tricky because he spent the very first game as a silent protagonist. So I wonder if maybe he has more story then what can be told in only a trilogy.

But I digress. In truth, Kotaku is only reporting on rumors and hearsay. Time will tell if we see Isaac Clarke after Dead Space 3, just as it will tell if EA’s bid to develop a fully detailed, expansive universe will pay off.

I am quite skeptical that they can do this. But then again, it is said that the Mobile Suit Gundam and Star Trek franchises were nearly canceled early in their beginnings.

And look what became of them.

SPESS MEHREN!

So let’s talk about what’s cool. Specifically, let’s talk about Space Marine. Or better yet, let’s watch the bloody, bloody trailer…

With the exception of Soulstorm and Fire Warrior, THQ has done a fine job of translating the table top game into the PC world. Soulstorm came at the butt end of a growing list of Dawn of War expansions shortly before Dawn of War 2, and seemed to lack the innovation and quality they put into the other expansions. Meanwhile, Fire Warrior felt like it just rehashed the Red Faction game engine without tweaking or improving it.

Yes, it’s true that both these games got solid reviews, but I’m also used to other 40k fan boys pumping up the ratings far more than they deserve. You can see it on Amazon when you look up the reviews of new Black Library books. And while most of the novels the Black Library publishes are good quality, some have fallen short of my expectations.

But I’ve seen little about Space Marine thus far that is cause for alarm. The graphics look tight, they’ve invested some effort in developing at least a decent story from the cut scenes. The varieties of weapons to use and enemies to kill are solid.

I get a touch confused because the game seems more focused on melee over ranged combat, but the list of available ranged weapons seems larger than the close combat choices. What’s worse is that I’m actually not sure what weapons will be available and what won’t be. For example, the online site gives us this small list of weapons. But one trailer gave us a brief glimpse of the autocannon, while another shows a laser cannon, a heavy bolter and a power axe. I have not seen a flamer, power fist nor a missile launcher. At least not yet.

I suspect that the developers are probably having a long, last minute debate over what will be put in the game and what will be held back to either purchase later or thrown into expansions. From the start, earlier trailers seemed to have a different vision for the game involving a team of mixed combat styles. Something obviously changed between now and then.

One cause of concern for me is going to be game play variety. So far, about 95% of what I’ve seen consisted of hacking, slashing and shooting through huge mobs of Orks or mowing down Chaos Marines. The other 5% consisted of some sort of vehicular mid air shoot out.

The environment looks spectacular.

The environment is so spectacular, even Captain Titus has to pause in awe of it.

Combat is wonderful, but most gamers these days need more. A tight combat system makes the game a lot of fun, as it did for God of War. But Kratos’ tale was also mixed with puzzle solving on the side to work the mind and not just the fingers. I’m not exactly sure that puzzles would really fit into a game like this.  However, I also fear that the game will suffer from this pattern:

  1. Notice large mob of bad guys coming over to kindly make your acquaintance. And then kill you.
  2. Engage said group of green gentlemen, smashing buttons to find some combination of moves that relieves them of their lives.
  3. Proceed to next area before the stench of the fresh cadavers’ relaxed bowels becomes overpowering.

Maybe there is some variety mixed in there. Perhaps driving vehicles. Or skulking about as a scout, planting bombs, sniping, knifing and keeping out of sight. Still, a lot of details have been held back. So it’s really wait and see at this point.

But I find myself really looking forward to the multiplayer. THQ decided to give us the option of being either Space Marines or Chaos Marines, and unbelievable customization options to boot. Here’s a parting video for you to see:

Sadly, I suspect there will be no sandvich.