Preview: Dead Space Extraction

When Electronic Arts said it was going to bring Dead Space to the Wii, a lot of people thought that they were joking. As it turns out, they weren’t, but the confirmation only brought about the usual two responses. The first and most prevalent one was the typical, “OMG, I can’t believe they’re porting it to the Wii. It’s totally going to [negative term of choice],” since it’s commonly known that anything that has to do with the Wii is absolute garbage.

The other response was more along the lines of, “Really? Wow, I want to check that out if I can, since Dead Space for Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 was my favorite game of last year. And since I like to play all my systems equally and don’t have this Wii bias that’s so cool with the kids ages 18 to 25, I won’t form any opinions about the title until I actually see it in person.” 

OK, so that was actually my response. But I did get to finally see Dead Space Extraction, and I did form some opinions, so follow the jump to hear more.

Dead Space Extraction (Wii)
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts:
To be released: Fall 2009

I wasn’t actually joking about Dead Space being my favorite game of last year, so I was extremely interested to see what EA was doing with the franchise on the Wii. Would it be a straight port? What kind of controls would it have? What would Baby Jesus think about it? 

While viewing the demonstration, almost all the questions were answered. And while Baby J’s opinion on the title is yet to be confirmed, I can tell you that Dead Space Extraction is looking to be pretty good so far.

As you may have heard, the gameplay is similar to the approach that Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles used, where it’s not really a shooter, but it’s also not a free-roaming adventure. Actual movement of the character is controlled by the game at all times, but there are instances of choosing different paths through the levels, some easier or harder than others. There are areas, too, that do give the player extra camera movement, called “Camera Opportunities.” These Camera Ops allow the player to explore the environments in certain rooms and through certain paths, so that the player can feel less like they’re on rails and more immersed in the exploration aspects of the game.

Just like the original Dead Space, the HUD is represented by on-screen markers as opposed to health bars and ammo count menus. For the Wii version, though, the gamer is placed in a first-person perspective, so information is displayed on the Wii Remote reticule instead of on the character’s back. And, yes, you do use the Wiimote to aim and fire, but have no worries about it being a “gun game.” You use the Wiimote to shoot, but it’s also used for a new feature that has you carrying your own light source (the green glow seen in the picture below).

This light will fade over time, and to bring its strength back up, the player will have to shake the Wiimote up and down. This may sound a little cheesy, but it was said to give the player the choice in harrowing situations of whether or not they would increase the light for better accuracy, or just keep fighting off the enemies. The player can also have the option of rotating any weapon in the game ninety degrees by just turning their wrist. For fans of the first game this will be good news since the only, and arguably most versatile weapon, in the first title that could do this was the plasma cutter. 

The timeline of the story places the events in Extraction before the original, and the moment when the marker was, duh, extracted from the planet’s surface. Now, I’m not exactly clear as to whether or not this takes place on the ship from the first game or the colony, but by looking at the environments in the demo, it appears to be once again on the same ship.

The level of detail used in the game will keep fans happy, too. While no one expects the Wii to do things that it just can’t do, what it can do, it does very well.  As you can see from the above picture, the team responsible for Extraction has done a great job of creating the environments. There were a few things that I did notice, though. The contrast between the lighted area that you can see in front of the character compared to the extremely shadowy areas that surround him isn’t as stark as it was in the 360/PS3 version. This took away from the claustrophobic feeling that the first game created, but I have a feeling that they may have just cranked the brightness for the demo so we could see the environments. Let’s hope so!

We didn’t get a chance to see any of the co-op functionality, but from what I was told, it sounds like a true two-player game. The team wanted to make sure that if you were going to play with your friends, they would have something to do instead of some lame support role or something that just kept them busy (I’m looking at you, Super Mario Galaxy). Second players can share the first player’s life bar and are equally invested in surviving, and they can also jump in and out of gameplay at any time.

Overall, what we were shown looked fun and true to the level of detail that EA has committed to each of its Dead Space mediums (like the comic and film). With the promise that the game’s content wasn’t watered down for the Wii, and the fact that I honestly can’t get too much Dead Space anything in my life, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more from this title in the future.