Dead Space 3 (PC/PS3/X360 - February 5th)
EA and Visceral want you to wholeheartedly believe the classic Dead Space formula that has attracted horror junkies to the franchise is still well and true. But that’s not quite the entire picture. Moving away from traditional alone-in-the-dark design, you’ll find a large dose of third-person shooter mechanics injected into the controls.
We’re talking a dedicated dodge ability, a new cover system that activates when it’s “appropriate for the given situation,” and – most notably – the addition of a co-op partner to help thin both tension and enemy ranks. There’s enough damning evidence here for any tried n’ true survival horror veteran to want to close the book on Dead Space 3, writing it off as another casualty in the tug o’ war between action and horror in gaming.
But can’t there be compromise between the two genres? Underneath the “upped action” red flags and claims from EA that people found the first two games “too scary,” I’m hearing a real investment from Visceral in increasing Dead Space’s playability in order to take focus off of the controls and place it on the horrific shit happening to you. And if you feel co-op diminishes scare factor at all, the developer has promised going solo will be catered to in the campaign, shifting the gameplay and story organically rather than punishing you for your solidarity by implementing a suicidally stupid AI partner.
Maybe horror and action have no place together in a game meant to keep you on your toes for eight to ten hours…But hopefully, as I’m sure Visceral is betting, we won’t think that after February.