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Dead Space Extraction – hands-on

In horror games, as with horror films, sometimes it’s the moments when nothing happens that prove to be the scariest. Take Konami’s vintage PS2 hair-whitener Silent Hill 2, for example. For many, that game’s defining moment was the initial walk down the winding, mist-covered road leading into Silent Hill. Experienced with the curtains drawn, it’s powerfully unsettling, with WHATWASTHAT and OHGODITWASJUSTALEAF moments at every step. Nothing ever happens, of course, but as a signal of intent, it set the scene perfectly.

With this in mind, our first question upon arriving in leafy Derbyshire for our hands-on session with Dead Space: Extraction was an obvious one. Is a game that’s essentially an on-rails shooter capable of delivering the same level of emotional attachment?

“We made the decision to turn Dead Space into what we call a ‘guided first-person experience’ for many reasons,” says Steve Papoutsis, Extraction’s executive producer. “One of the problems we encountered with the original Dead Space was that we had only so much control over the game’s pacing. We couldn’t predict how everyone would react. By turning it into a guided experience, we’ve found that we can make things much scarier, because we now have full control over what the player sees.”

As if to prove that point, we find ourselves in a darkened motion-capturing studio not five minutes later, shakily gripping a handheld camera as a man dressed in lightbulbs and spandex frantically slashes and claws at us. What at first glance appears to be the onset of some elaborate South Park skit suddenly makes sense when we see the footage on the big screen in real time. We’re able to circle around our assailant (who, on-screen, has suddenly transformed from Walking Filament Man into a snarling Necromorph), and snap footage of him from all angles.

Using this technology, Visceral Games can play director, selecting the most unsettling camera angles and forcing them upon the player. These efforts are immediately appreciable when you pick up the Wii controller. Necromorphs pop out from off-screen at all kinds of rakish angles, while murderous bat creatures crawl around on rooftops just inside your peripheral vision. Although at heart it’s just an on-rails shooter, Extraction has been pieced together so intelligently and yet so frantically that it feels like much more than that. It’s like being forced to take that journey to Silent Hill while strapped to a rollercoaster cart.

‘Frantic’ is also a word that could be used to describe the game’s quieter moments. As with all horror games worth their salt, ammunition is in scarce supply, so if you don’t fancy facing the next wave of tentacled tyrants armed with nothing more than your rivet gun (the intergalactic equivalent of a peashooter), then you’d be well advised to use the downtime to search for supplies. During these moments, you can pan around your surroundings using the Nunchuk to hunt out the ammunition and health refills that are scattered around the environment.

Since your character is constantly on the move, you’ve only got the briefest of moments before a weapon scrolls off the side of the screen, never to return. It’s a design choice that helps to keep the adrenaline flowing at all times and on later levels, where supplies are at a premium, you can become so engrossed in your bullet hunt that you’re oblivious to your surroundings. Which is when you suddenly realise that you’ve got a murderous bat creature attached to your skull.

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19 comments

  • chobb14 - July 26, 2009 1:11 p.m.

    @ clucky120 - I'm with you.. i hate horror games and that level wasn't that bad although i haven't finished halo 2 yet either.
  • The_Lurcher - July 21, 2009 4:24 p.m.

    @yourmom: learn to spell then you may have an opinion and my mum is fine thankyou. ReCAPTCHA: well-to-do relic erm is that a compliment?
  • loonyman978 - July 21, 2009 11:59 a.m.

    lol, now you mention it, it's not exactly chilling
  • ChrisAntistaLikesLittleBoys - July 21, 2009 6:49 a.m.

    @yourmom The last game was a rollercoaster ride too. A rollercoaster ride of ADVENTURE!!!!!
  • alexlcna - July 21, 2009 3:29 a.m.

    the game looks pretty good
  • iJizzLots - July 21, 2009 1:40 a.m.

    @Fancy Rat according to this preview "it appears than in Extraction, we may finally have the game that de-rails the on-rails shooter genre." sooo.... one can assume that it really is NOT an on-rails shooter, but a guided first person shooter but to me, those who descriptions sound exactly the same, but who are we to judge when we haven't played it yet
  • Yourmom - July 21, 2009 12:03 a.m.

    dont like it.. dei killd a perfectly gewd game by makin it into a roller coster ride!
  • fionnoh - July 20, 2009 9:07 p.m.

    so is it more of a killer 7 railway shooter of house of the dead?
  • Ninjamatt5 - July 20, 2009 7:39 p.m.

    Loved Dead Space on the PS3 and this looks to be a good companion to it - good thing I love On-rail shooter! Oops, I mean 'guided first-person experiences' :P
  • winterwolf - July 20, 2009 5:37 p.m.

    Can't wait to play!
  • clucky120 - July 20, 2009 5:35 p.m.

    i despise horror games. i remember the FIRST arbiter mission in which you see the flood for halo 2 on my PC. freaked me out. still haven't beat the game. although left 4 dead is fine for some reason. but will not be playing this game.
  • bamb0o-stick - July 21, 2009 3:54 p.m.

    Clucky120: I usually don't mind horror games, but the first Dead Space was the game that totally made me chickenshit. I've had DS for months now and I barely made it past the first chapter. Its mostly the sound that totally freaks me out. If you have a surround sound system, you'll hear things coming from EVERYWHERE. Its so nerve-wrecking. I have no problem playing Left 4 Dead like you too. Zombies are teddy bears compared to necromorphs imo. Although there's a ton of videos of dudes screaming like little girls.
  • robbiejc85 - July 21, 2009 12:32 p.m.

    mmm a surprisingly good preview for this. Having never liked light-gun games until owning a Wii (I suppose that I was kind of forced into liking them!) I really enjoyed Overkill and REUC. This looks like its going to trump them both - random spawning enemies and beefed up monsters for co-op sound like a damn good idea and I can't beleive this hasn't been done before. I;ve got Dead Space for my 360, but 15 minutes in I'm too scared to go further ... maybe I'll pluckup the guts before this comes out...
  • ChrisAntistaLikesLittleBoys - July 21, 2009 6:47 a.m.

    Does noneelse agree that this game has the cheesiest looking box art ever?
  • key0blade - July 21, 2009 3:16 a.m.

    Dammit, ANOTHER reason to keep my Wii, that PS3 will have to wait......
  • defiance0fchaos - July 21, 2009 3:02 a.m.

    Time Crisis will always be my favorite on rails shooter, don't feel like shelling out $50 for this thing
  • Fancy Rat - July 20, 2009 11:19 p.m.

    God damn it stop calling these 'guided first person shooters'. They are on-rails. You are fooling no one.
  • Silvermech - July 20, 2009 11 p.m.

    I'm glad I have a Wii. Though I feel I'll get terrified.
  • Cyberninja - July 20, 2009 6:50 p.m.

    i might just buy this if i finsh my other wii games

Showing 1-19 of 19 comments

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