Few things could ever hope to top the gurning onomatopoeic satisfaction of pruning malicious spindly limbs from Dead Space's necromorphs. The whump of the stasis blast to stop them in their tracks, the surgically precise thunk and schlick of the plasma cutter carving through bone with merciless efficiency.
But, Visceral Games reckons, in the midst of a particularly savage onslaught, what you really wanted to do was hack off their arms, bludgeon them to death, then pin them to a wall with their own murderous appendages. The key focus of the developer's offering at the EA Showcase in London this week was 'Strategic Dismemberment 2.0' and the many new ways there are to torture your aggressors in its forthcoming survival-horror sequel.
Skipping quickly over the routine claims about more intuitive controls, improved shooting and tweaks to make the TK and stasis systems a little more instant and fun, Dead Space 2 will be all about giving players maximum creativity in the way they approach a combat situation. "We let you take a bit more initiative," says a Visceral representative, before demonstrating the simple pleasures to be had by impaling your aggressors and nailing them to the wall.
It doesn't end there. "You can use alternative fire to electrocute or ignite them," he says, before creating an area effect on-screen by electrifying a javelin fired into the ground. "We have more interactive and reactive environments, and have gone out of our way to make sure Isaac can interact with many more things in the world." We're shown the vastly improved damage system that lets you "tear the s*** out of the place", and how a stray bullet can strike an item and create a weapon that you can use to your advantage.
In one section, we see how a bit of cunning and understanding of the environment allows you to take out a pack of five necromorphs with just two bullets. First you shoot out an external window to harness the powerful vacuum of space to suck out an entire group, but if you're not careful you then get dragged into the cold void yourself. On a second attempt, we see how you can save yourself by shooting the shutter activation right button before Isaac is dragged to his doom.
Plenty of nightmarish new necromorphs have been thrown into the sequel, including the sneaky Stalkers. Said to work in packs with their mates, these pointy-limbed freaks constantly try to outflank you and expose your weaknesses, but we soon show them the error of their ways by impaling them with their own slasher blade arms.
Elsewhere we catch a brief glimpse of the Crawlers, who can be turned against other necromorphs by shooting off their heads. Cysts, meanwhile, attach themselves to any surface and shoot out exploding pods whenever anyone gets close. "You have to look and listen so you can grab a pod in stasis to use it against them," apparently.
You hear a distinctive noise anytime you're in a Cyst's vicinity, so even when obscured it will be possible to tread carefully to avoid them. With careful timing you can also use them to detonate approaching necromorphs and save yourself precious ammo.