SWe've had more than one gameplay session with EA's sci-fi horror adventure Dead Space. Crecente's played it twice — once at EA's Spring Break showcase and once again just prior to E3. We'd both run through the game's hydroponics level, blasting off the mutated limbs of dozens of ugly Nectomorphs. At the Leipzig Games Convention, we got to try out a new level of Dead Space, the mining deck of the Ishimura, the space-faring "planet cracker" overrun by bad alien things. We also got our first taste of zero gravity puzzles — and got owned by various Nectomorphs in the process.After reacquainting ourselves with Dead Space's controls — no small feat, because they're more than a little bit confusing and currently our only real complaint with the game — we loaded up on supplies and upgraded. Similar to the progression path in BioShock, there are dispensers and work benches scattered about the ship that will let you upgrade your character. You'll need to spend nodes to refine your weapons and character attributes, spend credits for things like medi-packs and fuel for your telekinetic tools. After taking the elevator down to the mining deck, we ran into a few nasty critters we hadn't seen before, including the Pregnants — bloated, yellow beasts that, if you shoot them in the belly, spill a dozen or so scorpion-like pests. Since Dead Space's combat mechanic focuses on strategic dismemberment — or in this case decapitaiton — we didn't make the mistake of unloading our laser cutter in the guts of anymore Pregnants. We died a couple times, playing Dead Space like a run and gun shooter. Bad idea, as ammo is in short supply and Nectomorphs have a habit of showing up where you least expect them. After finally clearing the hallways of the mining deck of unwelcome aliens, we set in on one of the game's puzzles, a zero gravity octagonal room. A giant beam of energy ran through the center of the room and, in order to turn gravity back on and get the walkways we needed back in their right places, we had to toss a couple meteorites in the beam. Using our telekinetic left hand, we had to launch ourselves from platform to platform, hunting down any remaining rocks that were visually obscured. Pretty straightforward stuff, but tentacled Nectomorphs kept getting in the way. After de-boulderizing the room, we flipped the gravity back on, causing a new swarm of aliens to come looking for us. Since our ammo was limited, we opted to let the gas-filled Boomers (or are those the gas-filled zombies from Left 4 Dead?) take out nearby Nectomorphs. A couple shots in their bloated arms and the room was cleared without too much effort. Like our last hands-on time with the game, we walked away impressed. Dead Space looks really damn good, plays well — even if we get a bit of claw-hand from controlling it — and comes packed with atmosphere. There's some nice weapons variety, including a handy buzzsaw that one can guide at specific body parts after launching a blade, and the upgrade system looks to have some serious depth. We're looking forward to it with appropriate dread.