The first Dead Space was quiet, too quiet. That, fans have said, is why they like it. That, fans have said, is why they worry a little about the louder, forthcoming sequel.
Dead Space 2, we've reported before, will make players feel more heroic and powerful than they did in the original 2008 EA space horror game. A better armed, more independent-minded Dead Space hero Isaac Clarke is a less scared Isaac Clarke, no?
"The horror is there," Kevin Kimball, a product marketer at the game's publisher, Electronic Arts, said while playing through a dynamic section of the game at a nightclub demo in New York last week. There will be big hero moments, he said, while having Isaac do a controllable high altitude dive from a space station (a scene we've witnessed before). There will be these loud moments, but thanks to what Kimball says is "much better pacing" there will be scares.
"There will be moments," he said, "Where you'll be walking around and there there's not much going on. You'll wonder what is going on, expect something to jump out at you and it won't. And then we'll hit you with a big scare." His description makes the game sound just a little more like the suspenseful movie Alien - and the first Dead Space - than the more action-packed Aliens. "There will be ups and downs," he added, "highs and lows."
The scene Kimball was demonstrating last week in New York was not one of those creepy, quiet moments. After Clarke dove to the Sprawl, the game's main infested metropolis of a play space, he fought a surface battle against the game's bad-guy monsters. He intentionally let Clarke die so as to show that January 2011's Dead Space 2 retains one of 2008 Dead Space's visual signature: gruesome deaths of its hero. An enemy vomited acid on Isaac Clarke. Our hero choked and then puked to death. It was gruesome, if not creepy.
Noisy New York nightclubs are not the place to prove that a video game can be subtly scary. We can't test how frightening the game is yet, but at least we know EA promises something haunting.