Archives for posts with tag: 2

The latest footage from Dead Space 2, EA’s only public surviving legacy of its new IP project, has me worried. It’s a contextless clip of Isaac strapping himself into some sort of industrial mech which is is then launched into the cold vacuum of space in which he dodges arbitrary colonial detritus through what seem to be rocket boots.

While the first Dead Space may have been a fairly derivative survival horror, drawing strongly from established zombie and science fiction plot elements and Event Horizon for it’s visual style, it was a solid implementation of those ideas. It maintained its atmosphere pretty damn well with the exception of a few “boss fights”, which seemed gratuitous.

This trailer however, seems to completely abandon the tenants which made the atmosphere so good. In it Isaac resembles Iron Man more than anything else, nimbly dodging through space debris at insane speeds, in stark contrast to his low key escapades in the first game.

It is reminiscent to me of the tonal shift between Modern Warfare and it’s sequel. For me, Modern Warfare’s tone alternated between the somber, serious atmosphere of missions such as “All Ghillied Up” or the AC-130 Gunship and the desperation of the “Cargo” Ship or the game’s final chase sequence. However in the sequel, (which I haven’t played) people remark upon the great tonal disparity in the sequel between the more solemn moments and the more fantastical. Kieron Gillen writes on RockPaperShotgun;

“As others have noted, the most disturbing part of No Russian is its context. A few seconds previously you’re involved in a high-speed James Bond chase involving snowmobiles. A few seconds later, you’re mowing down civilians. That tonal shift isn’t brutal. It’s laughable. At best, you’re comedy. At worst, you’re cheap exploitative trash. Modern Warfare leans towards the latter.”

This seems like it could easily become the case with Dead Space 2 if the latest trailer is indicative. I cannot help but wonder if having spent the last thirty seconds playing Iron Man in space might undercut future tension about the seriousness of a Necromorph ambush.

Keep in however, that the spaceflight moment is provided with no context at all and that Dead Space 2 is supposed to have a slight tonal shift from the first game, to reflect Isaac’s new role as “hero of the Ishimura”.

Perhaps this second chapter is intended to feel completely different to the first. Perhaps it is all about Isaac’s ability to cope with being the sole idol for humanity, particularly considering that his image is being used to prop up a Unitologist government. Perhaps at the end of the game, the player and Isaac must abandon the Unitologist’s aid (such as the rocket boots) and strike out on their own. Perhaps then the third game could be again different, as Isaac leads civilians in an uprising against the Unitologists of the time who are deliberately unleashing Necromorphs on society.  Dead Space could become “The Saga of Isaac Clarke” perhaps, where the games are linked by a character’s narrative rather than by atmosphere and mechanics.

However, one cannot have their cake and eat it as well. I sincerely hope that whatever tone Visceral Games has chosen for Dead Space 2, that they stick to it. The a snowmobile is fine in a game about snowmobiles.

This is not conducive to "rocketeering".

Terrorists strike. Governments react. Aid agencies respond. Groups claim responsibility, make political demands. Governments respond to these demands, organise military response. Copycats attempt to emulate the attack. Prevention strategies are suggest. Governments complain about the price tag.  Some bastard profiteers off the whole thing.

Although I could be describing the news cycle for a great many of the 21st century’s tragedies, I am actually describing the “Vallum Blast”, which involved a ship (accelerated to hyper relativistic speeds) which crashed into a Turian city, killing hundreds.  The attack was orchestrated by a group of separatists, frustrated with the unchanging nature of the Hierarchy’s governance. The Hierarchy has chosen not a adopt new shielding technology for its cities, citing fears that such a move would elevate the risks for poorer areas which couldn’t afford shielding. Cynics claim that the Hierarchy is scared by the cost of the kinetic barrier technology.  A young survivor was discovered in the wreckage a few days after the blast, malnourished in the extreme.  A pair of Turian doctors have been arrested for harvesting organs from the blast’s victims.

Game has a great concept art. Also, HD Coruscant. IGN.Com image lifted for class.

As many of you may know this story has unfolded over the last two weeks through Mass Effect 2’s menu screen, with bi-daily text updates delivered via the laptop on the side.  Every time I load up Mass Effect, I’m greeted by a new development in the blast that’s happened independently of my play through of the game.  The game world is alive and without my interaction the universes narrative is moving forward.  With only a few hundred words every few days, Bioware has accomplished the independent world that Oblivion tried so hard to create.  It’s a simple solution and an inelegant one. It requires me to spend time on the main menu instead of getting into the game, which is hardly ideal. Why couldn’t his text be displayed during say, the loading screen? Or could it have been recorded and integrated into the Illium PA, whose news stories looped for me a long time ago.  Any implementation that didn’t force me to sacrifice my immersion to immerse myself in the narrative is superior really.

It’s also cool that it only exists for a limited time. Once the news story cycles out of the game, it’s gone forever. Much like a real thing.

I imagine that people would’ve got much the same feeling from the Mark Metzer alternate reality game for Bioshock 2, which culminates in-game in a really satisfying way. The same might also be cool in Mass Effect, where DLC adds in the ability for Shepard to travel to Vallum and stop the organ traders or prevent a copycat attack.

I imagine this is the appeal of in-character Twitter feeds, although having that content located within Twitter is too much of a stretch for me and doesn’t do much for my immersion.

Cool things.