One of the big selling points for the original Dead Space, other than the plentiful gore and flying limbs, was the fantastic graphics that made the horror all the more horrible – and for Dead Space: Extraction that’s a problem. Developers can talk around the issue as much as they want, but the reality is that the Wii is a very limited console in terms of pixel-pushing power.
Sure, there are still plenty of games on the platform that look good – but usually only in comparison to other titles. You’re never going to see huge draw distances, high-dynamic range lighting or any of the other really cool-sounding buzzwords making an appearance in a Wii game.
With no way to work around the issue for the development of Dead Space: Extraction, Redwood Shores decided that it would simply be better to change the gameplay style to adapt to the platform rather than ruining the presentation just to keep a comparable experience. So, here’s the bombshell, Dead Space: Extraction is an on-rails shooter.
Well, kind of. In our chat with an EA Spokesperson we casually referred to Dead Space: Extraction as ‘just’ an on-rails shooter and were quickly met with the explanation that it’s actually a bit more than that. Aside from the solid story that’s been cohesively melded with the presentation there’s also a bunch of features that elevate Extraction above the status of ‘just another on-rails shooter’.
Some of these extra features are completely predictable and standard despite how big a deal the team seemed to want to make of them, such as drop-in co-operative play that lets extra players take over another character in your group of survivors. In the initial presentation of the game there was a big focus put on the ability for players to just pick up and play alongside their friends, but to be blunt we’d consider that just a standard feature for an on-rails shooter. We’d have been shocked if it turned out not to be a feature.
Other aspects of the game meanwhile are a touch more interesting and unexpected, such as the puzzles that punctuate all the violence and give a welcome respite from lopping off limbs with lasers and provide a chance to stretch the cramp out of your wrist. From holding the Wii remote, obviously. Um.
In our look at the game we only got to see one puzzle - this tasked the player with repairing an electronic panel so they could get past a locked door. Simply a case of re-routing power to get the door functioning properly once more, the conundrum didn’t exactly require a colossal intellect to overcome, but that’s not really what these challenges are about. Instead, it’s about bringing some variation to the gameplay so that players don’t quickly fatigue from the endless trigger-pulling and, on that level, the puzzles seemed to work quite well.
What’s more, though we didn’t get a chance to see them in action, there was the promise of co-operative puzzles if there was more than one player active at a certain point. The idea of two players working together to find a way forward sounds both a little more complicated and a bit more interesting, even if the cold reality is that the second player will probably insist only on getting in your way. That’s always the way it seems to go with multiplayer on-rail shooters; your ally disorientating you with a crosshair that won’t stay on their side of the screen no matter what agreement you reach.