When Capcom’s Resident Evil series began to turn away from its dark and spooky roots, in an attempt to attract action-shooter gamers, many fans began to consider EA’s Dead Space franchise as the heir-apparent to the survival horror subgenre. After the extremely divisive release of Resident Evil 6 (read our review), players fixed their hopes on the upcoming Dead Space 3.

Dead Space 2 was a critical and financial success for Visceral Games – in spite of a tacked-on multiplayer offering. For Dead Space 3, many fans were hoping that the studio would set aside gimmicks to focus on crafting another dark and immersive single player campaign. However, a new featurette trailer for the upcoming horror title, detailing Microsoft Kinect integration, is now out – leaving gamers to wonder whether or not the developer has crafted another tight and engaging horror experience or undercut the game’s potential with another round of gimmicky add-on options.

Certain Dead Space fans were already skeptical of the next Isaac Clarke horror installment out the gate, when Visceral announced that they would do-away with the universally-panned competitive multiplayer component in favor of online co-op gameplay. For many, the inclusion of co-op is a welcome addition while others claim that inserting a second character into the mix will undercut the effectiveness of the series’ nerve-wracking immersion and frights – considering many set pieces in the game would now be designed with co-op in mind.

Dead Space 3 Co-op Fear Scary

However, according to Execute Producer Steve Papoutsis (in an interview with CVG), the addition of the Carver character in co-op actually allowed the team to toy with new ways of scaring players:

One of the things that when we were kicking around the idea of co-op we really wanted to innovate and make it feel different and unique to Dead Space. Dementia has been an undercurrent throughout the Dead Space games: it’s always been there and has always been a big cornerstone of the franchise, so we were able to utilize dementia in a way that allows Carver and Isaac to see different things from time to time.

That creates an interesting dynamic when you’re sitting in your house, I’m sitting in my house, and now I’m saying, “What are you doing man? Help me out here – what are you doing!?!” And you’re saying, “Are you crazy? I’m seeing something totally different, you’re not seeing this?”

You start to have a little argument and it’s like you’re having real-life dementia when the characters in the game are having dementia and it’s different, nobody’s done that. We’re very excited to show that off.

Papoutsis details an interesting “twist” on the co-op format and hopefully the final game delivers worthwhile return on the time spent developing (and playing) co-op. Numerous survival horror games have attempted to implement co-op after a run of successful single player experiences with extremely mixed results. The original Dead Space featured plenty of action-packed moments (as did the sequel) but it also stood-out because of its unique plasma cutter “dismemberment” gameplay. Considering a lot of the Dead Space 3 marketing has focused on the Clarke/Carver partnership, “open world’ of Tau Volantis, and machine gun shooting mechanics, there’s reason for faithful players to raise an eyebrow – especially after so many quality horror titles have tried a side-step into the blockbuster action arena.

Dead Space 3 New Necromorph

Still Papoutsis claims that every development decision is fueled by evolving the game and providing players with fresh experiences and the absolute best Dead Space title possible (even if it means a major shift from the original game concept). It’s a point he made while discussing the implementation of Kinect – which, despite competent application in Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim, is still largely considered by hardcore gamers to be a forced gimmick and, in many cases, the antithesis of intuitive gameplay:

We’ve explored motion controls on some of the other platforms and that was fun and informative, but we hadn’t done Kinect. So when we got the opportunity to sit down with Dead Space 3 we asked, “Well what can we do with Kinect?” “How can we make that feel like an addition to the game that makes it fun and really leverages the strengths of Kinect?”

So being able to do certain things without changing the grip on your controller is really advantageous. Add in co-op and now you can do things with simple voice commands like give your partner ammo or items – things that would normally take a couple of extra clicks on the sticks. That was really cool. And we’ve had fun in the team when we’re sitting down playing and I’m in the room with you and I can mess with you a little bit. That’s fun.

The video, and Papoutsis’ comments paint a muddled picture of Kinect implementation in Dead Space 3 – given that a few actions (like his scoped stasis example) could be useful in the game while others (like speaking to reload) are definitely extemporaneous and would be much simpler with a simple button press. As a result, it’ll be interesting to see how many players actually utilize Kinect voice commands. The recognition tech has improved steadily since launch but anyone who regularly utilizes the Microsoft device likely still encounters moments when they issue a command and notice a significant delay in the onscreen reaction or the Kinect outright misses the command altogether. Will players be willing to risk issuing a voice command over a two-step button press with a raging Necromorph charging in their direction? Maybe, maybe not.

Dead Space 3 Singleplayer

Unfortunately, even though the campaign is designed to function without Kinect controls (especially since it also runs on PS3), that doesn’t mean achievement and trophy hunters can entirely avoid major changes to the franchise format in Dead Space 3 – since several of the in-game challenges rely on co-op interactions.

Here’s the full list of Dead Space 3 achievements/trophies – minus 16 story-related “secret” entries.

  • Get On My Level – Complete the game on any difficulty setting. (10)
  • The Explorer – Complete all optional missions. (25)
  • Aren’t You Thankful? – Complete the game on Hardcore Mode. (50)
  • Epic Tier 4 Engineer – Complete the game in Classic Mode. (40)
  • Survivalist – Complete the game in Pure Survival Mode. (40)
  • Gun Collector – Collect all Weapon Parts. (25)
  • The Professor – Collect all Artifacts. (25)
  • The Librarian – Collect all Logs. (25)
  • The Armorer – Collect all Circuits. (25)
  • There’s Always Peng! – Find Peng. (50)
  • My Buddy – Retrieve Resources from a Scavenger Bot at a Bench. (10)
  • Metal Detector – Successfully deploy Scavenger Bots to 15 Resource Areas. (30)
  • Strapped – Craft a Weapon. (10)
  • Circuit’s Edge – Add a Circuit to a Weapon. (10)
  • EMT – Craft a Large Med Pack. (25)
  • Full House – Craft a Weapon with 2 Tools, Tips, and Attachments with all Circuit slots filled. (25)
  • RIG Master – Fully upgrade your RIG. (50)
  • Master Plan – Create a Blueprint that needs at least 2000 resources worth of parts and Circuits to build. (25)
  • From the Jaws – Save your Co-Op partner from an execution by killing the attacker. (10)
  • Share and Share Alike – Use the RIG to give an item to your Co-Op partner. (10)
  • Medic! – Revive your Co-Op partner 10 times. (10)
  • Ghosts of the Past – Face all of Carver’s demons by completing all Co-Op only optional missions. (25)
  • Architect – Share a Blueprint with your Co-Op partner. (10)
  • Axes High – Kill 30 enemies using Fodder axes. (20)
  • Payback – Kill a Soldier by TK’ing a grenade or rocket back at them. (15)
  • Go for the Limbs! – Dismember 500 limbs from living enemies. (10)
  • And Then We Doubled It! – Dismember 1000 limbs from living enemies. (10)
  • Slow Mo – Kill 50 enemies while they are in stasis. (10)
  • Blast Corps – Kill 30 enemies with explosion damage. (10)
  • Shootbang – Kill 30 Soldiers with head shots. (10)
  • Empty Chamber – Kill 30 enemies using melee strikes or a melee Weapon Part. (10)
  • Dropping Acid – Dissolve 50 enemies with acid. (10)
  • Electric Lawnmower – Kill 30 enemies using an electrified Ripper blade. (10)
  • Overpowered Healing – Use quick heal to heal yourself 20 times. (10)

It shouldn’t come as a shock that Dead Space 3 will encourage players to test-out co-op interactions and Carver playthroughs. Still, the Dead Space 2 achievement list didn’t feature multiplayer-only listings – meaning players could complete the entire list in Isaac’s boots (though multiple playthroughs were still required for the Mission Impossible achievement/trophy).

At least the developers didn’t put any Kinect-only achievements in for the Xbox 360 version, since “Use Kinect to Reload 30 times” would likely be pretty off-putting to even the most open-minded players.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.

Dead Space 3 releases on February 5 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

Source: EA, CVG, and Xbox Achievements [via The Examiner]