Hands-on with Dead Space 3: Survival teamwork and swearing at Kinect
13th Dec 2012 | 14:00
We've all been there: backs to the wall, out of ammo, knowing there's no way out and still desperately pleading to the gaming gods for help. For the last goodness knows how many years they've never answered, but that all changes in
"I need ammo!" you might yell, and a second later you'll be given a lifeline in the form of line racks or saw blades or good old fashion bullets. "I need a health pack!" you could also squeal after a pesky necromorph's rudely invaded your personal space and had a cheeky nibble on your collar bone. And afterwards you could find yourself with a crucial flask of life-giving nectar waiting to be glugged down to refuel waning vital signs.
Your rescuer won't be some contrived deus ex machina, however, but your partner in crime: a man just as vulnerable as you are, and someone who might well be calling for help from you also. Help you need to be giving when you can afford to. It's a system exclusive to Kinect, and it's one that streamlines a lot of the games options and further does away with the menus and HUD noise that developers Visceral so famously hate. In co-op you can trade items regardless of the distance between the characters. It might not make a whole lot of sense but from a gameplay perspective it encourages constant cooperation and means Visceral can drop you into some nasty situations and know you've still got a fighting chance if you work together with your partner.
(VOICE) COMMAND AND CONQUER
Kinect isn't just used for giving and receiving items, however. Quick heals, checking objective pathways, locating your partner, and even using powers are all things Kinect can handle. Some are more useful than others: tapping B is normally a fine way to top up health but when you're in the middle of a fight and your gun's raised it's safer to yelp three words than it is to drop your aim, even for a moment.
Calling "Grab object" to initiate TK, on the other hand, isn't quite as useful: it only works when you're already aiming, and there's a currently small amount of processing lag after the command's been issued, so it ends up being slower than just pressing the button.
And there's more. As well as the standard list of commands Visceral paid attention to play-testers and noticed a striking pattern of blue responses when they were unwillingly up close and personal with the gnashing necromorphs and have created some secret Kinect inputs as a result. So, might yelling, "Get the bleep off me you bleeping bleeper!", when you're in a wrestling match with enemies trigger unique, secret execution animations, perhaps? "Oooh, that's pretty smart! You might be onto something there," says Visceral head Steve Papoutsis. Sadly he wouldn't tell us what those exact commands might be, and even if he did we probably couldn't publish them.
Kinect isn't the only headline act of our latest Dead Space 3 demo. The discovery that Carver is just as insane as Isaac and the manner in which the insanity materialises in-game is a doozy. From time to time one character or the other will see things only they can see - and sometimes fight enemies known only to them.
So when your partner starts acting odd and wonders why you're not reacting to the monsters flooding into the room you know that one of you is going mental. You just don't know which one. We've given up on the dream of Eternal Darkness 2, but we're hoping Dead Space 3's co-op goes some way towards filling that void.
Rappelling is another new feature to Dead Space 3, and one that takes us back to the wall-walking of the first game. Tau Volantis is a mountainous planet and Isaac and Carver will have to rappel up and down cliff faces to push on forward, often while necromorphs attack from awkward angles. In the demo we played we had to climb up one such drop while dodging alien projectiles and rocks: holding down the sprint button to swing across a huge crack in the middle of the cliff when we started to run out of horizontal dodging space, all while holding up on the analogue stick to keep our vertical progress in motion.
Our short demo is packed with action: potentially too much action if you prefer the ominous, creaking corridors of the USG Ishimura over the crowded monster-disco hallways of 2's Sprawl. But the fights are universally great with custom weapon kits ticking all the right boxes and co-op character interplay offering something new.
There's nothing quite as satisfying as having your friend stasis a necromorph that's an inch away from slicing off your jaw with its scythe arms. Well, perhaps except for dismembering it afterwards in revenge. And now if you do so while unleashing a torrent of swears, who knows? Maybe you'll be treated to an extra-special kill sequence. In 1992 Mortal Kombat gave us the Fatality - twenty-one years later, Dead Space is delivering the Sweartality.