It's often hard for a developer to control where a player is looking at any given time, which makes scripting dramatic, horrific, and intense moments a big challenge, he says. For Extraction, the camera is hand-animated throughout the whole game, giving it a very cinematic vibe and making it far easier to deliver the gory thrills and chills. The team studied horror films like the Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield and used similar camera tactics to intensify the experience in Extraction.
There are brief moments where you're given limited control over the camera, but most of the time the focus is on blasting away the shambling atrocities that are clattering towards you. You always have to keep an eye out for ammo and upgrades to snatch up. Though ammunition is less scarce than in the first game, you can't simply turn around and run away when you run out, says Bagwell. "We did want to make sure players felt pressure to conserve ammunition and felt pressure to scavenge the world to find ammunition," he says. "A big part of the gameplay is keeping an eye out in the world for things that are going to help you." Many weapons from the first game will appear in Extraction, though there are some new and exciting armaments to wield against the Necromorphs - and yes, there are new monstrosities to dismember. Weapons upgrades are also available, but they automatically kick in when you uncover schematics hidden throughout the world.
Nintendo's console often gets a bad rap for being less of a technical powerhouse than its competing systems. That didn't stop Visceral Games from squeezing every ounce of available juice from the machine to make Extraction's visuals as close to the original as possible. A lot of mechanics in the game had to be designed from the ground up. There were some hardware limitations the team had to work with, admits Fattouh, though everyone is happy with the end result.
The Wii is certainly a different beast than developing for the Xbox 360 or the PS3, says lead art director Jonathan Hackett. There were some concessions that had to be made in terms of not being able to bring over all the same shaders and technology, but the team is confident Dead Space fans won't be disappointed with the new game's look. "It's graphically a much stronger machine than I think a lot of people give it credit for," says Hackett of the Wii. "I think the graphics are going to surprise a lot of people, and in terms of the visuals being close to the original, I don't think anybody is going to have any complaints about this game not looking like Dead Space."
Extraction won't be lacking in other bells and whistles. A perfect playthrough can take around seven hours to complete, assuming you don't die at all and don't go back to explore branching pathways you missed. On average, Papoutsis says it will take most people about 10 hours to complete. The experience is also designed with multiplayer co-op in mind, and a second player can jump in and out of the action with ease. Completing chapters will unlock extra challenge modes and competitive play options that can each take between ten and 30 minutes to complete, he says. Beyond extra replay value, the game will include the first six original Dead Space comics in motion comic format.
Anyone who's concerned about the graphic nature and intensity of the first game being nerfed for the Wii prequel will be pleased to learn the team didn't pull any punches with Extraction. "This is definitely a mature game," says Hackett. "It's going to have the violence, the same intensity, and the same horror moments found in Dead Space." You won't have to wait much longer to wade knee deep in spilled guts; Dead Space Extraction ships to retail next week. Be afraid.
CCC Staff Contributor