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Dead Space

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On pacing, the dev team have said the abscence of enemies can be as important as their presence, ie keeping up the tension, wether enemies turn up or not.

They've said there will be parts where you don't see an enemy for quite a while, but you won't ever know wether they're going to pop up or not.

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I would argue that the look of the enemies is secondary to the gameplay challenges they represent. There's only so much you can do with mutated humans, and while I like the look, I suspect they might not be showing us a lot of stuff. After all, all the previews and showings have been from the first couple of levels, right? Besides, anyone who has played Stalker will tell you that making an enemy frightening is about atmosphere and dread, not physical/visual design.

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I hope to god they don't just flood the game with those mutant things, the sounds of the empty ship creaking and the empty corridors could really build tension.

I'm just worried that game that has the potential to be scary as hell could end up lacking in atmosphere (no pun intended).

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How's the PC version of this shaping up? I'll go for that if it's as good or better than the 360 one.

PC/360 usually means the PC version always has a few extra options and a bit of AA etc sparkle if your rig is up to it. Otherwise I'm guessing they'll be exactly the same.

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I hope to god they don't just flood the game with those mutant things, the sounds of the empty ship creaking and the empty corridors could really build tension.

I'm just worried that game that has the potential to be scary as hell could end up lacking in atmosphere (no pun intended).

agreed, that was the problem with the thing game, millions of mutant heads running everywhere on a deserted outpost. so where did they all come from ? atmosphere - fail

lookin forward to dead space

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How's the PC version of this shaping up? I'll go for that if it's as good or better than the 360 one.

I tend to lean towards PC version to save a bit of cash, but it's an EA game.

I think there has been some discussion on their PC releases lately.

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Gametrailers preview:

http://www.gametrailers.com/player/40173.html

OH SEX

And a good write up here on Dead Space's environments:

http://www.dailygame.net/news/archives/008073.php

Going into EA's Dead Space Community Day, it was tempting to think of the new sci-fi franchise as little more than a DOOM clone. Science-fiction game set in space? Check. Horror elements? Check. Dark hallways populated by even darker demons? Check. That was our opinion at 9:00 am. By the time we left Electronic Arts at 6:00 pm, having played the (literal) hell out of three massive levels, our opinion changed entirely. Dead Space is anything but a DOOM clone. In fact, based on our time with it, Dead Space is poised to out-DOOM DOOM in every way.

For this first of two hands-on previews, we'll focus on the environments of Dead Space. The environments are one way EA's survival-horror game is trying to stand out from id's seminal sci-fi shooter, and because we expected Dead Space to be a clone, we were skeptical that it would actually deliver. After all, DOOM can scare people silly, but walking down the same basic hallway for the entire length of a game gets tiring. Would Dead Space do more of the same?

"DOOM does the scary thing very well, but it does it over and over," says Executive Producer Glen Schofield. "We're trying to mix up the scares. Yeah, you'll have a guy jump out at you, but it'll be a different scare each time."

One of the ways the development team is doing this is by using multiple "tiers" in each environment. For instance, as players walk through any given hallway or room on the USG Ishimura, the supersized ship on which the game takes place, there's always a separate level that only enemies can use. Filled with ducts, holes and random openings, these areas let AI-controlled enemies evaluate the player's movement and aggression and determine the most logical way to attack. Running down a hallway? The enemy is probably going to choose a duct far ahead of you from which to lash out. Busy fighting an Infector in a shadowy corner? Chances are, a second enemy will slink out from a duct behind you.

Including these AI-only tiers/levels is a refreshing environmental design decision, as most survival-horror games and shooters rely on scripted events. Dead Space certainly includes scripted events, and we definitely encountered locations where an enemy appeared in the same place each time. But when battles get heated or four enemies strike at once, those AI-only tunnels give enemies more options, keeping the battles fresh and your tactics changing. The tunnels also give enemies a way to escape if necessary, only to strike back later from another entry entirely.

Of course, the scare factor isn't just enemies popping out of holes; it's also the environment itself. Appropriately, Art Director Ian took this to heart when deciding to use gothic architecture as the inspiration for the USG Ishimura. No, that doesn't mean hallways have tattoos, eye liner and black fingernails. It means the ship is inspired by the arched, ribbed, stylized design of cathedrals and old buildings worldwide. On the surface this doesn't sound like a big decision, but when you consider the all-new game engine EA created for Dead Space, the environmental impact is huge.

EA originally conceived Dead Space as an Unreal Engine game, ultimately choosing to abandon Epic's engine due to its less-than-ideal handling of complex geometry. Using a custom-built engine, however, the Dead Space art team has been able to create environments whose ribs, arches and environmental details play with the game's infinite -- yes, infinite -- light sources, resulting in ominous shadows and some pants-wetting illusions. This adds to the game's suspense, because players are never quite sure whether that movement down the hall or on the other side of the grating was an enemy or just a fleeting shadow.

Abstracting gothic architecture into a spaceship sounds pretty "high level," but when the ship's as big as the USG Ishimura, the decision makes complete sense. An entire colony was living on the Ishimura before players begin the game wondering why there are no known survivors. Like any big city, different environments look slightly different. So, the engineering area still looks much more industrial than, say, the public areas, which look more refined, or the hydroponics floor, which has a functional yet clean appearance. Yet all the while, gothic motifs are echoed throughout.

These diverse areas are another instance in which Dead Space stands out from DOOM, as you seldom encounter areas that look exactly alike. One of gamers' biggest complaints about DOOM and other first-person shooters is the repetition of certain hallways. In Dead Space, the environments range from industrial areas to surgical floors, from vegetation-filled hydroponics deck to massive hangars. These areas naturally share design traits, but their diversity is about as far as one can get from the "just another hallway" mentality that pervades many sci-fi titles.

The zero-G levels are also a nice change of pace, as the rooms in these areas are specifically designed to accommodate players jumping from one side of the environment to the other. The downfall with these rooms, at least from an architectural standpoint, is that they tend to be a bit more square than other areas of the Ishimura, but that's more to give players freedom of gravity-free movement than it is a sign of design laziness. Each zero-G area also has a cool audio effect of sounds being muffled/swallowed in the vacuum of space, but that's less of an environmental design aspect than it is an aspect designed to boost players' immersion in the game.

And that immersion factor is the primary driver of EA's level design in Dead Space. Other companies have created survival-horror games, but they've generally done so in the known environments of Earth and with some serious fog effects. Other companies have created sci-fi shooters, but they've generally done so using barren hallways or twitch-friendly level design. Dead Space is going in a different direction, one that needs to balance the slow pace of a horror film with the fast pace of combat (note we didn't say "a shooter"). If the story ends up as good as the environmental design, Dead Space could be one of the most satisfyingly intense games of 2008.

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I thought I did offer my opinion? I was surprised at your reaction to the trailer, was all. I know nothing about the game or your opinion of it other than reading your post and watching the link.

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Positive Gamespot preview:

http://uk.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/dead...le;1&page=1

While all of the above may sound pretty standard, Dead Space gets a BioShock-like twist thanks to the addition of special powers you can gain, such as slowing time or moving objects. They come in handy when solving puzzles. Other elements in the mix are the space- and zero-gravity sequences, which force you to either get through areas before your suit runs out of air or figure out how to get through rooms that feel like an MC Escher painting. While it may sound like a crazy quilt of mechanics rolled together, it actually works pretty well from what we've played. There's a good amount of variety, and the story elements that are peppered throughout have been keeping the action interesting so far.

And some rather good pictures including this one:

943338_20080617_screen004.jpg

Gamespot video walkthrough with dev (note: annoying woman) -

http://uk.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/dead...t-08-14-08-demo

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After hearing the possible involvement of Warren Ellis I think this one is going to hang on storyline for me, as by the gameplay that's been shown I could take it or leave it.

Appreciate you keeping us updated with info though, Smitty!

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After hearing the possible involvement of Warren Ellis I think this one is going to hang on storyline for me, as by the gameplay that's been shown I could take it or leave it.
Graphic novelist Warren Ellis, through his Bad Signal mailing list, writes on August 7, 2008:

"I got released from an NDA the other day, so I can finally say that I wrote a bunch of the groundwork, backstory and structure on the forthcoming EA videogame DEAD SPACE... I believe there was at least one other writer on the project, but I'm sure there's some of me in there somewhere."

Gamespy preview from a little while back:

http://uk.xbox360.gamespy.com/xbox-360/dea...e/874840p1.html

In practice, Dead Space appears to be hitting the right notes in terms of striking a balance between tense build-up moments and gruesomely bloody payoffs. Totally appropriately, the game is slated for release this Halloween.

And an IGN one:

http://uk.xbox360.ign.com/articles/883/883371p2.html

Like many third-person horror games, Dead Space has a very deliberate pace. But while your character moves slowly through the environment, EA wisely gives you a very fast turning radius. So, no, you can't just run and gun through the levels, but each room you enter becomes a heated contest that is very fast and can become very challenging as the AI looks to swarm you from all sides.

Dead Space is going to keep you on your toes. Not just with some good scares, but by mixing up the types of enemies you'll face and adding new gameplay twists from start to finish. There are many survival horror shooters that feel as if each level is identical, just with a different coat of paint. But even in my short time with Dead Space, it felt as if this could be one of those rare games to make each stage feel distinct both visually and in terms of gameplay.

And there is more depth to be discovered. EA has promised to unveil an upgrade system that "is unlike anything you've seen before." Though EA is mum on the details of how you will upgrade and what that will entail, the developers say that the upgrades you choose will profoundly affect the game as you play. EA assured me it won't be as simple as Bioshock, where you slot in a few custom items.

Let's hope Dead Space lives up to its potential. It certainly has a shot at being one of the best games of the year.

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I wonder if Smitty will buy Dead Space when it comes out?

That depends on the reviews, me old pebble. But, yes, there seems a good chance of that.

NEWS:

The game won't be coming out in Japan or Germany, due to the gore and graphic violence.

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Anyone going to give the animated film prequel a go before the game comes out ? It'll probably be a bit cack but I'm still intrigued by it (and the actual game which looks very good)

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These all sound interesting and the GT preview rose my wanting levels.

I just can't understand why they have to use "special powers". This is a sci fi thriller, I want it to feel "real", the human vulnerable, like in the Alien movies.

I get the feeling that these special powers were squeezed in and don't really fit in with the whole thing.

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I think it looks like it could be great. Let's be positive!

I liked the zero g stuff on gametrailers and especially the walking around the external parts of the ship.

I should say since I worded it poorly, I think the animated film might turn out to be cack but like the look of the game ^_^ Certainly very slick at least and there's been a very good vibe about it for ages.

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These all sound interesting and the GT preview rose my wanting levels.

I just can't understand why they have to use "special powers". This is a sci fi thriller, I want it to feel "real", the human vulnerable, like in the Alien movies.

I get the feeling that these special powers were squeezed in and don't really fit in with the whole thing.

I totally agree with that sentiment but I think that since it is a videogame, more depth of interaction is usually a good thing.

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