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Up Close And Personal With Dead Space Extraction

Impressions of EA's guided sci-fi follow-up to Dead Space. Note: Not a first-person shooter.

The art design is right on point.
It was only halfway into a hands-off demo of Dead Space Extraction--when a fellow press member quietly directed my attention to our demo player's unmoving thumb--that I realized this Wii follow-up to last year's excellent sci-fi horror game is not a first-person shooter. In Extraction, you can't control your movement, nor even the camera angle (outside of infrequent, predefined scenarios); the game is simply about pointing and shooting at the enemies coming at you, then being whisked away on rails to your next enemy encounter, puzzle, or friendly character interaction. It's far more akin to games like House of the Dead: Overkill and Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles than Metroid Prime 3 or The Conduit.

On the upside, I have to wonder if these tight constraints on perspective and movement are crucial to maintaining Extraction's visual fidelity and frame rate. I wonder because, no hyperbole intended, this is a damn fine-looking Wii game. The art style and even holographic pop-up display are perfectly in line with that of the first Dead Space, as you'd expect--but the technical execution, the complexity of the level geometry and the smoothness of the action are what really impressed me. 

Extraction takes place at the outset of the alien mutation that later sweeps the crew of the starship Ishimura, so you'll be interacting with more normal, pre-infected human characters than in the first game. The quick demo I saw had the player fighting basic mutants in some area of the starship with three other survivors. Though you and your companions are generally running from points A to B to C, ad infinitum, there will be occasional branching paths that will let you choose one of two ways to get through a given area.

The glow worm offers light in dark places.
"Strategic dismemberment" is still the operative marketing point here; shooting limbs off is the quickest way to kill enemies. The player was armed with the basic, pistol-like plasma cutter from the first game, and I'd assume most of the weapons from the original will make an appearance. You can twist the Wii remote 90 degrees--yes, holding it gangster-style--to use a weapon's alt-fire. 

There are a few mechanics unique to the Wii here. One is the "glow worm," a greenish flashlight that you charge and activate by shaking the remote. EA described this as a risk/reward ability; you'll obviously lose the ability to shoot while you do this, but in some almost pitch-black areas, it will help you aim at enemies coming at you out of the dark. There will be some motion-based puzzles in between action scenes, too. For instance, to unlock a door, you'll have to trace a zig-zagging circuit pathway on a computer display with the targeting reticle, without touching barriers around the sides.

I'm not necessarily knocking Extraction for its on-rails gameplay. Other games in this style have obviously done well enough on the Wii. I just want EA to be forthcoming about what kind of game this is, because it looks like the deepest game I've seen so far in a genre that isn't necessarily known for its depth.


No new video of Extraction out of EA this time, but here's the original announcement trailer they put out a few weeks ago.


  

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
33 Comments
Posted by Brad
The art design is right on point.
It was only halfway into a hands-off demo of Dead Space Extraction--when a fellow press member quietly directed my attention to our demo player's unmoving thumb--that I realized this Wii follow-up to last year's excellent sci-fi horror game is not a first-person shooter. In Extraction, you can't control your movement, nor even the camera angle (outside of infrequent, predefined scenarios); the game is simply about pointing and shooting at the enemies coming at you, then being whisked away on rails to your next enemy encounter, puzzle, or friendly character interaction. It's far more akin to games like House of the Dead: Overkill and Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles than Metroid Prime 3 or The Conduit.

On the upside, I have to wonder if these tight constraints on perspective and movement are crucial to maintaining Extraction's visual fidelity and frame rate. I wonder because, no hyperbole intended, this is a damn fine-looking Wii game. The art style and even holographic pop-up display are perfectly in line with that of the first Dead Space, as you'd expect--but the technical execution, the complexity of the level geometry and the smoothness of the action are what really impressed me. 

Extraction takes place at the outset of the alien mutation that later sweeps the crew of the starship Ishimura, so you'll be interacting with more normal, pre-infected human characters than in the first game. The quick demo I saw had the player fighting basic mutants in some area of the starship with three other survivors. Though you and your companions are generally running from points A to B to C, ad infinitum, there will be occasional branching paths that will let you choose one of two ways to get through a given area.

The glow worm offers light in dark places.
"Strategic dismemberment" is still the operative marketing point here; shooting limbs off is the quickest way to kill enemies. The player was armed with the basic, pistol-like plasma cutter from the first game, and I'd assume most of the weapons from the original will make an appearance. You can twist the Wii remote 90 degrees--yes, holding it gangster-style--to use a weapon's alt-fire. 

There are a few mechanics unique to the Wii here. One is the "glow worm," a greenish flashlight that you charge and activate by shaking the remote. EA described this as a risk/reward ability; you'll obviously lose the ability to shoot while you do this, but in some almost pitch-black areas, it will help you aim at enemies coming at you out of the dark. There will be some motion-based puzzles in between action scenes, too. For instance, to unlock a door, you'll have to trace a zig-zagging circuit pathway on a computer display with the targeting reticle, without touching barriers around the sides.

I'm not necessarily knocking Extraction for its on-rails gameplay. Other games in this style have obviously done well enough on the Wii. I just want EA to be forthcoming about what kind of game this is, because it looks like the deepest game I've seen so far in a genre that isn't necessarily known for its depth.


No new video of Extraction out of EA this time, but here's the original announcement trailer they put out a few weeks ago.


  

Edited by Death_Burnout

I thought we already knew it was on rails? i say we, but i mean me i suppose...

Nevermind! i actually like the idea, especially if it's more in depth.

Posted by Kiemoe

Shaking the roommate?

Edited by imayellowfellow

boo rail shooter?  fksljdfslsdf

Posted by Pie

Wow another on rails shooter.

Edited by Al3xand3r

Bring em while the genre's hot please, I love some rail shooting and it was a dead genre before the Wii revived it. Get me some new Virtual Cop SEGA! New footage here actually.

Posted by trav3ler

Could be interesting.  The Wii is kinda built for rail shooters, and Dead Space was incredible, so I remain hopeful.


I'll have to steal my friend's Wii to play it though.
Posted by Arkthemaniac

Is anyone else ever concerned by how little the Giant Bomb staff researches games before they go into a demo? It's like not reading for English class.

Edited by Al3xand3r

No reason to generalise it like they don't research anything Ark. It's just a Wii game after all man ;)

Posted by TripMasterMunky

You shouldn't really need to research at all in order to play a game.

Posted by TimeWaffle

i have no interest in this game

Posted by TwoOneFive

this reminds me, i need to play more dead space, that was my goty

Posted by Arkthemaniac
TripMasterMunky said:
"You shouldn't really need to research at all in order to play a game."
It's their job to know the scoop on games. It makes sense that he should know some background info before going into the demo. It jut makes sense.
Posted by Linkyshinks

Cheers Brad, great article, very informative.

I'm going to keep an open mind as far as this game is concerned. I really believe that this style of game could be given a notable and welcome lift, if a developer truly applies enough dedication to doing so.

Posted by Venatio

An on rails Dead Space game? What the hell, Dead Space was such an amazing game, why are they doing this?

Posted by ArclightBorealis

Despite the genre choice, EA seems to be making sure that the game has the appropriate amount of death. Sure, they may be calling it a "guided first-person experience" (when they won't admit it's technically on rails), but they must seem very serious and dedicated to this project. EA's been really supportive of the Wii lately, so they must not wanna fuck this up.

And plus, I think they might be able to make it just as tense and scary as the original Dead Space. Movies can be scary, and you can't control the pace of the story in them. You're always watching the events unfold as they are meant to, at the pace that it wants. I think even the on rails genre is capable of delivering on the scare factor much like movies.

Posted by RHCPfan24

I think it looks sort of fine, at least from the impressions I have been hearing. Dead Space is an amazing game, so they better not mess this one up.

Posted by Seijur0

This looks like an old arcade game, but slightly more dynamic.

Posted by Al3xand3r

Yeah it really doesn't warrant the new catchy term they came up with "guided first person experience" or whatever. I mean, the new Darkside Chronicles also has a much more dynamic feel that's like watching a cut scene where you do the shooting or something, while you see the action from the eyes of a character doing all sorts of things he would do normally, like rush to help a friend, get scared @ something he saw, etc, with the camera view showing that. That short trailer they released looked really good and very dynamic. Yet Capcom didn't go all "this isn't an on-rail shooter, it's a new genre!" lol.

Edited by xzyzz

A rails Dead Space may only give you a fraction of the original game, but a fugly Dead Space is no Dead Space at all. With 5-6 months still to go, it seems like when this thing's done it'll at least look the part. No way the game looks like it does if it allows free movement. Not w/ Wii hardware.

Posted by Captain_Fookup

looks pretty good, if and when I get a wii I'll pick up Extraction.

Posted by Milkman
"the game is simply about pointing and shooting at the enemies coming at you, then being whisked away on rails"

ASS.

Excitement ended here.
Posted by Milkman

What makes it even worse is that trailer made the game look pretty damn scary. And now, we all know that it won't be.

Posted by Lingxor

Those flying necromorphs are just about the most disturbing thing I've ever seen.

Posted by ocdog45

these shooters are never good but not bad enough to not play. 

Posted by NAZAR3NE

I think Dead Space Extraction 'looks' better than the Conduit.

Posted by Media_Master

maybe

Posted by Sarnecki

This game could have been Metroid Prime Dead Space, and that would have gotten a widly enthusiastic thumbs up from me.  But instead it's On Rails...  Probably not going to bother checking it out.

Posted by DrRandle

I'm still torn by this. One one hand, I love Dead Space, and on the other, I love arcade Shooters like Umbrella Chronicles. Something great to play with teh boyfriend. In teh end it's my tlove of both of these that's going to give me the okay on this game. Certainly it looks amazing, and they've really nailed all the elements I want in a Dead Space.

But... I still, in the back of my head, want an original third-person shooter for Wii like RE4 Wii Edition. It was sooo good, and this could have been greati f it was a new story and all of that... But... it wouldn't have looked nearly as good. I'm okay with that personally, but I can't deny that damn Extraction is pretty.

In the end, I'll judge it as what it is... it's own product, and yet another wonderful (hopefully?) companion to the Dead Space experience. I suppose I don't mind them trying to do something different. It could be worst. A lot worst.

Posted by vhold

I'm probably in the minority around here, but I think it's cool they're making a more serious on-rails shooter, something my non-gamer friends can get and play.  FPS controls are just too overwhelming for most of them.. but kicking back and blasting the hell out of some bad guys is totally approachable.

Posted by Erdie

Huh.  I originally dismissed this game as another franchise butchered on its way to the Wii (See: Soulcalibur, Castlevania, Dragon Quest, Dead Rising, etc.)  But as long as there are a few branching paths here and there, I don't think being guided will hurt the game much.  Most corridor shooters like these are linear anyway.

Posted by darkspirit138

That is one AWESOME trailer.

Posted by Scorched

I knew it was on rails as well