PAX 2008: Dead Space Hands-On Preview

Adam LaMosca

New member
Aug 7, 2006
PAX 2008: Dead Space Hands-On Preview

EA says they're interspersing Dead Space's monster encounters and horror scenes with occasional puzzles. The demo included a large zero-gravity room in which Isaac had to restore gravity by destroying four meteorite-like objects. I could point Isaac in the direction of the surface I wanted to reach, aim, and send him leaping. When he reached his destination, his boots would grab and the camera would re-orient itself to his perspective. Leaping from wall to ceiling to floor, I captured the meteorites with Isaac's kinesis abilities and tossed them into an energy conduct that ran across the room.

Dead Space employs a number of clever interface tricks that keep its world intact for the player. It shows Isaac from an over-the-shoulder perspective, and his armor and power meters are glowing indicators on the back of his suit. Isaac's inventory and map are projected from his suit as holograms that look and function like traditional interface screens, but occupy three-dimensional in-game space. As the player selects items within the menus, Isaac's head turns and looks in response. Opening the holograms doesn't pause the game, either. It's a very smart, cool effect. Isaac can also briefly project a holographic sort of breadcrumb trail that will point the way to an in-game objective selected by the player.

The demo I played looked and ran like a finished game, and its presentation was easily on par with other high-end console and PC releases. Though some of the controls were a little unorthodox, they worked well and quickly became second nature. Dead Space may be a survival horror title, but its combat controls and movement wouldn't feel out of place in an action game.

Wandering around the bloodied, body-strewn Ishimura, I found some vending-type machines, including a sort of store where it looked like Isaac could stash gear and buy healing items or ammunition. Another intriguing machine provided access to branching upgrade trees that would gradually enhance the attributes of his suit and weapons.

Dead Space will reportedly provide a single-player, story-based experience that will take players somewhere between 12 and 20 hours to complete. The demo didn't offer much insight into how the developers will illuminate the game's story, how the levels and environments will vary, or how linear the player's path will be. Dead Space's sci-fi horror setting is certainly treading familiar (if not overused) ground. Still, given all the creative touches I saw, I think EA may have something very special on their hands. Dead Space is due out late this October for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.


Eagle Est1986

That One Guy
Nov 21, 2007
Starting to sound a little like System Shock 3 minus the AI. Maybe worth a play but it won't be in amoungst my Christams gaming, maybe in time for the New Year slump.