12th Nov 2007 | 11:42
Horror: a bugger of a niche genre, totally pwned during the last decade by Konami and Capcom. Whether it's skinless Dobermans, mutant babies, puppet nurses or shuffling zombies, no one does squeaky bum moments quite like our Eastern cousins. Which makes the sudden lurching appearance of this Western-made, EA-published outing even more bizarre. EA and horror? In a puzzle-packed FPS? Nah, it just doesn't sound right.
Yet, with each new nugget of info that escapes, shrieking, out of embargo stasis, the more we like the sound of the franchise king's take on terror: an intriguing hybrid of classic space scares like Alien... uh, Event Horizon and, er... Doom.
You're Isaac Clarke, a freelance space engineer mooching around the galaxy fixing up colossal Red Dwarf-style mining ships. Yet heroically answering a distress call from the USG Ishimura leads Clarke and his team on a collision course with parasitic alien horde the Necromorphs - whose party trick is to enter the human body before mutating it in positively beastly ways. Isolated from his pals, it's time for Isaac to get busy.
From the outset it's made clear that Isaac is no hero, yet it's his vulnerability and everyman likeability that EA hope will make him a convincing protagonist. Still, to overcome the alien hordes he'll need to get his hands bloody - especially since the game's key combat mechanic is - wait for it... dismemberment. Yep, you'll need to be a dab hand with your plasma cutter and target Necromorph weak spots by, say, lopping a leg off if you're being chased.
A nifty idea then, but one that might prove all too gimmicky in practice. More appealing is the way you'll be occasionally able to leave the ship's airlock and romp around in Zero-G - one ill-advised jump too far and you might just spiral off into the infinite vacuum of space. Nasty.
A horror FPS from EA doesn't sound quite right, but we'll leave our cynicism at the door while donning fresh pants. After all, they scared us silly with the players in Road to World Cup...