Dead Space 3

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The third (and likely final) Dead Space game traded survival horror for action, a decision many fans found frustrating. It turns out, however, this was not the original pitch. This week I've spoken with the game's creative director, Ben Wanat about the team's original vision for Dead Space 3 and how over time, it was eroded by the business interests of Electronic Arts.

Dead Space is the sequel Resident Evil 4 deserved

Dead Space is the sequel Resident Evil 4 deserved

From the archive: Extra terrors trial.

Editor's note: In light of EA closing Visceral Games, we thought it would be a good time to remember the game and series the studio is known best for: Dead Space. This article was first published in February this year.

My initial plan for this article was to write about the space bits of Dead Space, also known as everyone's favourite bits of Dead Space. I was going to write something cool and arch and critical like "the true horror of Dead Space lies not in the snarling, gibbering Necromorphs that attempt to rip and tear the flesh from Isaac Clarke's body, but in how the game imagines the inky void of space as a direct physical threat. Throughout its length, Dead Space constantly reminds us the USG Ishimura is a tiny lifeboat spinning in a vast, black vacuum. It sucks the air out of Isaac's lungs, and forces us to fight in environments where even simple things like the concept of 'Up' become entirely redundant."

Something like that anyway. But then I played Dead Space, which I haven't done in about five years. I arrived at the first jump-scare, the one where Isaac is separated from his crewmates in the docking bay as Necromorphs start falling from the ceiling like coconuts on the galaxy's worst tropical island. I wish I could tell you that I was stalwart in the face of danger, hardened by my years playing horror games in the name of games journalism. Instead I completely bricked it. Again. I'd prepared myself mentally for it as well, playing the scene over in my head as the game downloaded. It made no difference. The moment Dead Space dropped the NecroMic I panicked, racing blindly through the corridors, fingers stabbing at the wrong keys, swearing with increasing volume as I tried to get the goddamn elevator doors to shut.

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Pay what you want for Dead Space 3

UPDATE: Humble Origin Bundle adds Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Uprising and Populous.

UPDATE: The Humble Origin Bundle has added Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Uprising and Populous.

Battle of the sales! Now it's Sony's "apocalyptic" PS3 game sale

Battle of the sales! Now it's Sony's "apocalyptic" PS3 game sale

Dead Space 3! Far Cry 3! From Dust! Tokyo Jungle!

Hot on the heels of Microsoft's own 'Ultimate Game Sale' comes Sony's 'Apocalyptic Sale' for PlayStation 3 games.

Big name titles include the entire Dead Space saga - the excellent Dead Space, the brilliant Dead Space 2 and also Dead Space 3 - plus Far Cry 3 and its retro-themed spin-off Blood Dragon.

There's a good selection of download-only games too, including Eric Chahi's tropical island sandbox From Dust and Sony's own bears vs. pomeranians simulator Tokyo Jungle.

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Dead Space isn't dead, but no-one's working on Dead Space 4 right now, EA confirms

Dead Space isn't dead, but no-one's working on Dead Space 4 right now, EA confirms

Visceral making unannounced game "they have passion for".

Dead Space 4 isn't in development, EA has confirmed.

The news follows a report from March 2013 that claimed EA had canned the Dead Space series following poor sales of Dead Space 3 and closed down developer Visceral. EA denied this at the time.

In an interview with Eurogamer at E3 this week EA Games Label boss Patrick Söderlund denied the Dead Space franchise has been ditched outright, but did confirm that Dead Space 4, which was reportedly in pre-production before being canned, was not in the works.

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Dead Space 3: Awakened review

Short and insulting, the first narrative expansion for Dead Space 3 typifies what can go wrong when downloadable content is poorly planned and implemented. Even the word "expansion" feels too grand for what you get here. Awakened is a 90-minute epilogue that barely bothers to mask its origins as an exercise in asset recycling.

It picks up immediately after the conclusion of the game's campaign, so spoiler-wary players who have yet to finish the story should steer clear - both of the DLC and the rest of this review.

Isaac and Carver have destroyed the sentient alien moon that was apparently the source of the Necromorph threat. Both have apparently sacrificed themselves, unless you stuck around for the post-credits sting that shows - surprise! - Isaac is still alive. Not only alive, it transpires, but suddenly transported back to the surface of Tau Volantis with nary a scratch. There's a brief bit of dialogue as our two heroes ponder just what happened, but this add-on isn't in the business of tying up such loose ends. "Alien machine make magic thing happen," explains Isaac (I'm paraphrasing) and with that, you're off.

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EA cans Dead Space series following poor sales of Dead Space 3 - report

EA cans Dead Space series following poor sales of Dead Space 3 - report

UPDATE: EA accuses VideoGamer of fabricating the story. VG denies allegations, says it gave EA a chance to comment prior to publishing.

Update 2: EA has accused VideoGamer of fabricating its Dead Space story, but the media outlet isn't taking these allegations lightly and claims that EA knew about the story in advance and was given an opportunity to deny it prior to publication, but for whatever reason, didn't.

VideoGamer has a detailed account of its correspondence with EA prior to publishing the piece.

But first, the accusations. Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore left a comment on a GamesIndustry report regarding the whole affair.

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Saturday Soapbox: Voting with your wallets isn't the whole answer to abusive micro-transactions

Cliff Bleszinski makes a reasonable point, but there's more to it.

Do you read Cliff Bleszinski's blog? You should! It's really smart and interesting, which isn't much of a surprise from a guy who spent 20 years making games like Unreal and Gears of War - deceptively brainy action titles full of bright and influential ideas. (I still can't believe no one's ripped off Active Reload.)

UK chart: Dead Space 3 top but launch sales down 26% on DS2

Sci-fi horror Dead Space 3 has charged to the top of the UK all-format chart, albeit with 26.6 per cent fewer sales than its predecessor.

Dead Space 2 launched two years ago in a similar post-Christmas slot. Publisher EA clearly hoped to grow the franchise this time around, but has faced criticism for the game's micro-transactions, aggressive DLC release schedule and drift into more action-focused territory.

PlayStation 3-exclusive Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, last week's top dog, fell to sixth place.

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EA has no intention of patching the Dead Space 3 loot exploit

EA has no intention of patching the Dead Space 3 loot exploit

Says it was designed that way on purpose.

When it was discovered that Dead Space 3 players could game the system and farm for resources that would otherwise cost real world currency via microtransactions, it was assumed that EA would patch this as it undermines the arguably greedy system in place.

Not so, says EA. The publisher is actually A-okay with this exploit as it gives players the option to farm for resources, while the microtransactions are simply a convenience item. In fact, EA is claiming that this was no accident and the game was designed with optional farming scenarios in mind.

"The resource-earning mechanic in Dead Space 3 is not a glitch," said EA PR man Jino Talens in a statement to GameFront. "We have no plans to issue a patch to change this aspect of the game. We encourage players to explore the game and discover the areas where resources respawn for free. We've deliberately designed Dead Space 3 to allow players to harvest resources by playing through the game. For those that wish to accumulate upgrades instantly, we have enabled an optional system for them to buy the resources at a minimal cost ($1-$3)."

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VideoWatch us play Dead Space 3 live from 3.30pm GMT

In space no one can hear you stream.

Dead Space 3 is out today in Europe and, while Dan Whitehead reported mixed things in our review, it's still a series that a lot of people have tremendous affection for and one which is capable of some breathtaking moments.

Dead Space 3 review

Dead Space 3 review

The new flesh.

Familiarity doesn't have to breed contempt, but it still makes for barren soil where horror is concerned. In fact, it's a cruel irony that the genre most damaged by repetition is the one that spawns the most sequels. Freddy Krueger managed to clock up nine big screen appearances, but went from shadowy menace to court jester in the process.

The shambling, meatbag Necromorphs of Dead Space aren't making quips yet, but it's perhaps understandable that developer Visceral Games has started to tug the series towards action for this third entry. After all, there are only so many rusty, steam-filled corridors you can creep down, so many times a sudden lunging creature can make you jump, before the jolts lose their sting.

It's not as if Dead Space has always been a pure-bred horror title in the first place. True horror requires vulnerability to generate fear, and this is a series where you play a heavily armoured man with an arsenal designed for ripping flesh and psychic powers that hold the monsters in place while he puts them to use. Look past the jump scares and gory surface details, and the Dead Space trajectory has always been one of escalation rather than emasculation.

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Sci-fi survival shooter Dead Space 3 includes micro-transactions, Eurogamer uncovered last week, as a way to save time with the game's weapon-crafting system. The response to this news was fairly one-sided: that publisher EA had switched into full money-grabbing mode to nickel-and-dime hardcore gamers. It was another example of a company initiating a "pay to win" scheme, and an encroachment of free-to-play principles into a game that already costs £40. But is it really such a controversial move? Is it that unexpected? Or is it, like other time-saving examples in console games, something you can just ignore?

Dead Space 3 launches with 11 DLC packs for speeding loot collection, kitting out character

Dead Space 3 launches with 11 DLC packs for speeding loot collection, kitting out character

But "you'll find more than enough resources in-game", dev says.

Dead Space 3 will launch with nearly a dozen slices of DLC, designed to help players accrue in-game loot faster and kit out hero Isaac Clarke with new weapons and suits.

These options are separate to the in-game micro-transactions that Eurogamer revealed last week, which allow you to sheets of real world cash on extra resources for the game's weapon-crafting system.

Still, the DLC extras do tie into the same crafting system. In Dead Space 3 you can find weapon parts and resources scattered around the game's world. You also get them delivered to you via scavenger bots. And it's these little mechanical fellows that you can pay to upgrade.

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Saturday Soapbox: Buy-to-let gaming

EA, Square Enix and the cash trap.

This week has seen two big stories about premium games trying to squeeze ever-more money out of their players. They're not immediately obvious bedfellows; Square Enix's Final Fantasy: All the Bravest is a mobile title divided into cash-hungry chunks, and Dead Space 3 is as typical an AAA console title as you'll get. But both excite the same feeling of unease, and not just because they share a common theme of exploitation; it's that point where something bearable becomes too much.

Dead Space 3 dev: "change is always scary"

"We had a lot of feedback that people were scared."

Dead Space 3 developer Visceral Games has admitted it received "a lot of feedback" that people were "scared" by its initial reveal of the game - and not in a good way.

GAME announces store lock-ins

GAME announces store lock-ins

18-store trial lets you play Dead Space 3 up to a month before release.

GAME has announced lock-ins for a number of its stores, after-hours community events where you can play games before they're out.

GAME has done a deal with EA for the lock-ins, and the first set of these, which runs during January, lets you play Visceral Games' action horror shooter Dead Space 3. Oh, and there will be snacks and drinks, too.

To register for a lock-in you have to put your name down in-store or tweet the relevant shop. You have to be over 18 and it's first-come, first-served.

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Playable EA games at Eurogamer Expo 2012 revealed

Need for Speed, SimCity, Crysis 3, Dead Space 3, Medal of Honor, FIFA 13.

Playable EA games at the Eurogamer Expo 2012 next month include Crysis 3, Dead Space 3, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, SimCity and FIFA 13.

Dead Space 3 release date confirmed

Dead Space 3 release date confirmed

February 8 release in UK, weapon crafting revealed.

Dead Space 3 has had its release date firmed up, with the previous February window now narrowed down to February 8 in the UK and the rest of Northern Europe, with the US getting the game on February 5.

EA and Visceral took the opportunity of a Gamescom conference to reveal weapon crafting, which allows players to blend together existing guns. There's a competition dubbed Tools of Terror that's taking place on Dead Space's site. The eventual winner gets the weapon in the game, as well as their likeness.

Dead Space 3 follows on the story of Isaac Clarke, and somewhat controversially introduces co-op to the mix of action and horror. I had a peek at it myself last month.

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Dead Space 3 Preview: Alone in the Dark

Dead Space 3 Preview: Alone in the Dark

After a shaky E3 debut, Isaac shows his more traditional side.

Dead Space 3's E3 debut was terrifying, but for all the wrong reasons. In the spotlight of EA's conference, followers of the series watched aghast as the slow-drip tension and slimy body horror of the series was drowned out by long, steady streams of rifle fire and swears.

Cinema has always been a big part of Dead Space's make-up, but worryingly the key influences seemed to have shifted away from the sci-fi horror of Cameron and Scott's Alien films and towards the shiny messes of Michael Bay.

Now the noise has died down, EA's keen to show another, more traditional side of Dead Space 3 plucked from early on in the single-player campaign. Isaac's isolated on the planet of Tau Volantis, seeking refuge from the frozen crags of its surface aboard a research ship that's been left gutted and abandoned.

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Dead Space 3 Preview: Hell Freezes Over

Dead Space 3 Preview: Hell Freezes Over

Isaac's split personality bleeds through to a game of two halves.

Nothing strips a horror game of its scares like the comfort of a second player. If my maths is correct, twice the people equals half the frights, right? So it may seem worrying that the upcoming Dead Space 3 is going down the path of Resident Evil with its most highly touted new feature being co-op. The difference is that Visceral Games acknowledges this disparity between two-player action and fear, and has wisely decided to keep single player scares and multiplayer mayhem separate.

"A traditional fan wants to have that alone in the dark on the couch moment," says senior producer on Dead Space 3, Dave Woldman. "That game's there for you. Boot up the game, play it by yourself, turn off the lights, crank up the sound, and you're going to get a Dead Space game through and through. Tight corridors, atmosphere, tension, horror, everything you've come to know and expect. No AI followers, not anyone chatting in your ear the whole time. It's the game that you know when you see Dead Space."

Based on the 10-minute hands-off single-player demo, that sounds about right. Dead Space 3 looks like business as usual for our spectacularly unlucky hero, Isaac Clarke, who's just crash landed on the frozen necromorph-infested planet Tau Volantis. He begins the demo hanging upside-down with his hair covered in ice, making his head wound resemble a slushy. In a nice touch, Isaac begins the game with a sliver of health as he stumbles around the harsh wintry terrain.

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EA's E3 2012 Conference

All the stories. Need for Speed Most Wanted steals the show.

Update: The EA conference is now over and yielded a number of announcements:

EA confirms Dead Space 3, new Need For Speed: Most Wanted

EA confirms Dead Space 3, new Need For Speed: Most Wanted

Promises more unannounced titles will be at E3.

UPDATE: The first screen from Most Wanted has just slipped out - see below.

ORIGINAL STORY: EA has finally gone ahead and confirmed that both Dead Space 3 and a new Criterion-developed Need For Speed: Most Wanted are on their way.

Both games will be showcased at the publisher's E3 conference on Monday, "as well as titles not yet announced".

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Dead Space 3 screenshots leak

Co-op! Dual-wielding! Beardy Isaac!

A fresh round of Dead Space 3 screenshots have leaked online, following yesterday's reveal of the game's first image and logo.

Dead Space developer working on new IP

"Thrilling online action shooter" coming from Visceral.

Visceral Games, the studio behind the Dead Space franchise and God of War pretender Dante's Inferno, is working on a brand new IP.

Dead Space 3 plot details leak

Dead Space 3 plot details leak

Isaac a shadow of former self.

Purported plot details from Dead Space 3 have leaked, detailing returning hero Isaac Clarke's deteriorating mental state.

EA's threequel will see the beleaguered engineer haunted by a secondary personality, according to fresh info from Siliconera.

Dubbed "Shadow Isaac", the apparition will haunt players throughout the game - similar to how Clarke's dead girlfriend Nicole popped up in Dead Space 1 and 2.

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