Dead Space Hands-On Preview

    At an EA event this month, the one we discussed on a recent podcast, we had a chance to play Battlefield: Bad Company 2, plus another big surprise game based on a console series: Dead Space.

    Dead Space on the iPhone fills the, well, space between the currently available original and its upcoming console sequel. You play as Codename: Vandal, a character who may or may not be Isaac from the first Dead Space.

    Whoever your character is, their job is to slowly clank down steel catwalks in a desolate spaceship, waiting for a mutant to pop out of the shadows and be sliced in half with a high-tech cutting tool. Dead Space mostly seems to hew close to that survival horror formula, but the level we played was a little more action-packed.

    In this level, we found ourselves on a single-platform tram, where monsters would occasionally draw themselves up and try to kill us. Fighting them off wasn’t easy, partly because the screen was missing the typical shooter controls like a virtual D-pad or buttons. Generally, the left side of the screen moved our character, and the right side moved the camera. Tapping fired our gun, but we could also swipe to switch the angle of our weapon, something that was important in the console version for targeting limbs.

    Graphically, Dead Space looks just like we’d hope it would. All the recognizable aspects of the console game were there, from your character’s suit with lights indicating health and status, to the holographic displays that showed us where to find ammo and other items.

    After the fight on the tram, we arrived in a perfect reproduction of the console game’s shuttle stations, complete with a bench for upgrading our gear. Upgrades can be collected in the game, or bought via in-app purchase, and we’re told there will be five weapons in Dead Space, including two new weapons, the Plasma Saw and Core Extractor. In addition, you’ll be able to use psychic “stasis” powers like telekinesis to solve occasional environmental puzzles.

    From our brief time with the game, Dead Space looks like it will be a shrunk-down version of the creepy console original, instead of a total rewrite like Mirror’s Edge. Graphically, Dead Space is highly impressive, but we’re still not sure if the experience will be a lengthy, suspenseful adventure that feels like substantial part of the series. We’ll find out soon, as the game will be available next month.

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