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Tycho / on Tue, Jan 22 2013 at 11:01 pm

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You grabbed the new Dead Space demo, right?  It doesn’t cost anything, and you should.  Did you?

When you finish a demo and immediately lament that the game in question has not been released, I’d say it’s done its job.  Back when scariest thing about Dead Space 3 was that it might allow you to play with a friend, I suggested that just because nobody had done it right to date wasn’t an indicator that co-operative horror was impossible.  Having played through it with Gabe yesterday, I feel somewhat vindicated.

Of course, microtransactions wedded to the game’s crafting core, goofing around with their well-manicured metaphor might inspire fear.  But we had a great time in there, which occasionally involved having a “bad time,” in precisely the way I wanted to.  Both of us out of bullets, swinging wildly.  Last second saves.  Going up in an elevator, and seeing him brusquely reload his Line Gun before the door opens.  Even when Resident Evil was single player, we always played it together anyway.  I prefer horror movies in theaters to horror movies at home.  It’s our simian heritage, I guess.  Things we feel together are made larger, somehow.

Ammo availability usually isn’t the biggest problem in Dead Space, though sometimes you aren’t able to use your “favorite” gun; what keeps the tension on simmer is a very explicit combination of long reloads, low ammunition per clip, the premium placed on precision shots, and raw overwhelm.  These things can be mollified somewhat, but they need to be in the mix at a proper ratio.  The crafting mechanism - where you build guns from parts you can also build, make blueprints of your designs, and give them to friends - is where these things can go awry.  There wasn’t anything in the demo to give me pause in there, but it’s a subset.  Dead Space tends to feature more “instant,” narrative kills than other horror games, too; I wonder how much fun that will be with another player.  I’m just thinking aloud, I guess.  I liked what I saw, but there wasn’t that much to see.

Dead Space has always been much better than is strictly required, and one of the ways it’s done this is with the guts of its story.  It’s one thing to believe in Unitology as a generalized idea, but when you see the specifics of their unique afterlife proposition it seems like you might reconsider?  Maybe?  Okay, maybe not.

(CW)TB out.

i miss my wife

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