Dead Space: Hands-On ImpressionsS

EA Redwood Shores was on hand at last week's EA Label gathering to show off a bit of Dead Space, the deep-space thriller that, until last week, left me feeling rather cold... and not in a good way.

Leading up to last week's event all of the stuff I saw about the game made me feel like it was another shooter, albeit one set in space, but one that didn't seem to offer anything new or interesting to the formula of scary shooters.

But after spending ten minutes or so watching a demonstration and then a few minutes controlling a hapless space engineer, I've got a taste for the game.

The most defining element of the game, besides its graphically rich environment, is the way in which you have to dispatch enemies. Instead of selecting your favorite weapon and pouring ammo into the limb-sprouting Necromorphs that populate the darkened halls of the abandoned spaceship, you have to be slightly more tactical. Each form of the creature, it seemed has it's own particular weakness and a weapon that best takes advantage of that.

After watching the accompanying writers at the demo get obliterated by a varied selection of limb-waving, ceiling-scrambling aliens, I was handed over the controller to give it a try. The weapon I settled on looked like a cross between some sort of battle rifle and a pitchfork. Blue targeting lasers emitting from the prongs of the device helped me try to line up the weapon's spread with the swaying tentacles of my first opponent. A couple of misses and I settled on the empty-the-clip-into-the-abdomen method, which causes a bit of a mess, but did little more than delay my death by a few more minutes.

Dead Space, which is due out for the PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, this Halloween, seems to add a level of tactical weapons use that I've rarely seen in a third-person shooter. Graphically, the weapons and their resulting damage is amazing, but whether the tactical shift will be perceived as a welcome change or an annoyance stands to be seen.