The first Dead Space was one of the best horror games of the current generation, with its feeling of isolation and infrequent but terrifying enemy encounters managing to emulate the atmosphere of Ridley Scott's Alien, as players took on the role of Isaac Clarke, a space engineer caught in the wrong place at the wrong time trapped aboard a mining vessel crawling with unknown nasties. Its sequel, Dead Space 2 chose to follow a more action-oriented route, with it's focus on cinematic setpieces and action lending itself rather well to a comparison to James Cameron's Aliens in this sci-fi movie analogy. Which then brings us to Dead Space 3, which is where the analogy falls down.
Unveiled at EA's Press Conference at this year's E3, Dead Space 3 takes place an unspecified time after the second game, with Isaac and Ellie (one of the few survivors from Dead Space 2) journeying towards a planet with John Carver (the new generic swear-a-lot-marine, whose main role seems to be to serve as a character for your co-op partner) in tow. We don't yet know why they're heading towards this planet in the first place (whether they were just passing by or were sent their on a mission) but there's something important down there. And it's up to you to find it.
So important it's time to put on the serious face.
This "something important" seems to be the source of the Necromorph 'virus', an alien disease that infects the dead, transforming them into horrific scythe-armed sci-fi zombies, so it's in the interest of everyone involved to eliminate the source, which in the process will eliminate all the Necromorphs, and therefore save the galaxy.
Here's a Necromorph. Really, he just wants a hug.
Unfortunately for Isaac and company, they aren't the only ones who know about the planet, as a number of Unitologists (a group that can only politely be described as religious nut jobs) have picked up the location of the source as well. The core belief of Unitology is that the Necromorph is the next logical evolution of mankind, so with Isaac here to destroy the source, the Unitologists aren't going to let them through without a fight.
Fighting other human beings for the first time in the series, the combat of Dead Space 3 seems to have taken a few cues from the Gears of War school of game design. In the gameplay demo shown, after escaping from a run-in with a gigantic drill the pair burst out onto a hill side, where a number of Unitologists are waiting for them. Luckily, there's also a collection of boxes scattered around, handily placed for Isaac and John to take cover behind as the gunfight ensues. As well as now being able to take cover behind objects, Isaac can also now roll around the floor, another feature borrowed from the Gears of War series.
Thank God for boxes.
Dead Space 3 looks like a drastic leap in style from the rest of the franchise, with the claustrophobic spaceship corridors from the first two games being replaced with a desolate frozen wasteland. The new inclusion of co-op will also offer a new experience for the main Dead Space games (Dead Space: Extraction, the Wii and PS3 light gun game offered local co-op for the entire game), although whether it changes it for the best remains to be seen. If it had offline and online co-op like almost every other co-op shooter out there (Gears, Resident Evil, Army of Two, Kane and Lynch, and so on), we'd have been sold on it, but to omit any kind of same-console co-op gets us off on the wrong foot to begin with, as there's absolutely no reason it shouldn't be included. Bar lazy developers.
You can watch the E3 trailer here, but watch out for John "I f*cking hate this planet" Carver's foul mouth. A swear box for him would make more money than all the online passes in existence:
We're big fans of the Dead Space franchise, so we're keeping all our appendages crossed that Dead Space 3 turns out to be a decent end to the trilogy. We'll have more information as soon as we can, so keep checking back!