We've been following the development of Dead Space for quite some time now, eager to discover any news at all that will shed some light on what we can expect. Today, we got more than we bargained for at the Singapore EA developers meeting. Rich Briggs, who hails from EA's Redwood Shores, took us through a live demonstration. Once again however, no cameras allowed! Fortunately they made up for it with some great new screenshots.
Briggs: Dead Space, as you may well know, is our entry into the survival horror genre, and it is a story of Isaac Clark, an engineer, who is chosen to go on a mission to investigate why communications have broken down on a ship. The ship is a "planet cracker", what that means is it's a huge ship - the size of a small city - which goes out to a dead planet, carves a chunk in the crust, rips it out, and then mines it down for all the resources we need back on Earth. There's no resources on Earth, so all the resources we need, we get out of dead planets. Of course, it wrecks the planet, but who cares?
So, unfortunately, when they ripped open this planet, they let something out. It takes over the ship, and communications go down, so Isaac Clark is sent out. They don't know there's this infestation on board, so when they get there, he's separated from his team, and that starts the players experience.
We'll be releasing, over the next couple of months, some more details on the story. Isaac actually has an ulterior motive for being on the ship. He wants to be on this mission. And then, as you are exploring the ship, getting audio logs, video logs, text logs, and just interacting with some of the characters you're going to learn there's a lot more going on. It's not just about the infestation, so there's sort of three layers to the story that we'll start to show people.
GP: At this point, Rich fires up the a demo of the game running on a PC, and steps us through with a narrative.
Briggs: Isaac's goals and objectives are usually centred around fixing the ship. He's an engineer, so it's about refuelling the ship, it's about trying to stop it from crashing into a planet, things like that.
The video logs are all real-time, even your inventory screen. It's a hologram display. You have all the information you need, like your ammo count, down your spine is your health, and your oxygen meter will pop up there whenever you need it to. That's all just to keep the players as immersed as possible. These are all miners and engineers who are working out in space, and they need to keep an eye on their buddies, so they need to be able to check each others health at any time. That also means, you're never truly safe, you're not pausing to use a health pack.
GP: You can see this in the screenshots below. The movements of Isaac are incredibly lifelike - at this point in the demonstration we are attacked by a creature that seems to resemble various body parts of humans attached to tentacles. Isaac manages to use a kind of electrical charge to slice limbs off the creature, spurting blood in all directions, then stomps on the corpse.
Briggs: You can also use objects in the environment, so that bladed weapon that I just picked up there can slice the enemy.
GP: Isaac has picked up what resembles the spinning blade of a saw bench, and uses the kinetic ability of his weapon to send the blade skimming along the floor and around the feet of the creatures, slicing them to pieces and covering the floor with even more blood than seemed possible before.
Briggs: So you have a resource management component of survival horror. You're going to want to conserve your ammo wherever possible. Isaac is incorporating things from all over this mining ship, and he's using that to his advantage. So think of a miner out in space, he's going to use things like kinetics to move asteroid chunks around, and we've taken that and added it to the weapon, like the combat you saw with the buzzsaw. You can use stasis to slow down a piece of machinery you're working on, so Isaac doesn't have any superpowers, he's just using everything he can find. This weapon is what they use to cut up asteroids - he's just taken off the safety valve to turn it into a weapon.
GP: Isaac starts using his weapon to slice creatures legs off - the creatures continue to drag themselves towards him. Isaac grabs one and drop-kicks it; it explodes in a shower of blood.