The original Dead Space was fun, but it wasn't exactly what one would call unique. Except for a few interesting features, the game was almost identical to Resident Evil 4. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, especially compared to some of the other half-baked attempts to mimic Capcom's hit title. It wasn't really possible to deny where the inspiration came from, and Dead Space was a clear example of the old saying, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." It should come as no surprise that the upcoming Wii prequel, Dead Space: Extraction, continues to take its inspiration from Capcom's most popular zombie-killing franchise, and this time, the muse is Capcom's Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles. Like Umbrella Chronicles, Extraction is a reimagining of the Dead Space gameplay as a slow-paced light gun game, and like Dead Space, it doesn't deviate overly much from its inspiration.
Dead Space: Extraction is set a while before the events of the original game. In the distant future, ships called "Planet Crackers" can break open uninhabited planets to get the valuable minerals inside. The U.S.G. Ishimura is one of these ships, and it's tasked with breaking open the planet Aegis VII. Unfortunately, doing so causes them to find a mysterious alien artifact and accidentally unleash a swarm of horrifying zombie-like creatures called the Necromorphs. Dead Space took place long after the Ishimura had already been compromised by the Necromorphs, and almost everyone onboard was dead. Dead Space: Extraction takes place during the initial infection and follows an unlucky spaceship crew who end up crash-landing on the Ishimura just as the infection is in full swing. They must try to find a way to survive the Necromorphs' rampage and escape.
As previously mentioned, Dead Space: Extraction is an on-rails light gun shooter very much in the vein of Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles. Players slowly and automatically walk through the tainted corridors of the ship, blasting the heck out of enemies as they pop out from various places. The controls are extremely simple. The Wiimote aims, and you fire by pressing the B button. The A button uses the Kinesis ability to grab objects from a distance, allowing you to pick up ammunition, healing items and in-game files from the environment. Swinging the Nunchuk causes you to perform a melee attack to knock back nearby foes. You can also fire a Stasis blast at enemies to slow them down for a brief period of time, allowing you an easier time in killing foes, although your Stasis usage is limited and must recharge from time to time.
As in the original Dead Space game, your primary enemy are the Necromorphs, who are basically futuristic sci-fi zombie creatures, reanimated corpses who have been twisted into monstrous shapes. What is most interesting about the Necromorphs is that you can't kill them easily in a traditional way. Shooting them in head isn't particularly any more effective than shooting them in the chest, and you end up using a lot of ammo on a single foe. The best way to kill a Necromorph is to remove its limbs with a cutting tool, so the focus on the game is to delimb foes by aiming for their arms and legs. Anyone who has played Dead Space isn't going to find any surprises here, at least so far. All of the Necromorphs that we saw during the E3 demo were of the same species seen in Dead Space, and they could be defeated in the same way.
Since you have to delimb the enemies in Dead Space, most of your weapons are industrial tools that have been turned into makeshift weapons. Dead Space: Extraction seems to be using almost all of the same weapons we saw in the original title. The pistol, for example, is a Plasma Cutter, a small laser-cutting weapon that serves as an extremely useful basic tool. In the demo, we also came across The Ripper, a futuristic chainsaw with a rotating blade that was suspended in mid-air, another returning favorite from Dead Space. Each weapon also has a secondary firing mode, which can be activated by twisting the Wiimote sideways. The secondary fire on the Plasma Cutter lets you fire vertical blasts instead of horizontal blasts, which can make it easier to delimb foes. The ripper simply shoots the saw blade forward as a deadly projectile instead of holding it in mid-air for close-range attacks. In the demo, we were able to carry two weapons at a time and switch between them at will, allowing for some variation in combat tactics, depending on the situation.
While most of the game appears to be the traditional light gun mainstay of shooting everything that moves, there are a few indications that Dead Space: Extraction will feature a few elements to spice things up a little. At one point, the main character activates the guide feature on his RIG spacesuit, which gives us a choice of two paths. The player has to pick which path to go down, which changes the dangers that we'll encounter in the next few areas. The other major change is a sequence where we're trapped in a broken elevator. In order to restart the elevator, we have to play a short mini-game where we weld a series of circuits to bypass the damaged controls. This involves slowly dragging the Wiimote along a thin line between points, where failure means we have to restart. As this is going on, Necromorphs are rushing the elevator, and so we have to balance our time between careful welding and blowing away Necromorphs. This sequence feels designed for co-op gameplay, since trying to weld and hold off the Necromorphs on your own is a fairly tedious task.It's basically impossible to avoid comparing Dead Space: Extraction to Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles for much the same reason that you can't avoid comparing Dead Space to Resident Evil 4. They're extremely similar games, and apart from the overall setting, there isn't very much to differentiate Dead Space: Extraction from Capcom's light gun game. There are a few unique features brought over from Dead Space, like the Stasis ability, but otherwise, the gameplay is basically the same. For those looking for a new light gun shooter for the Wii, Dead Space: Extraction may have some potential, but it's also going to have to face a notable challenge from Capcom's Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles. With any luck, the final version of Dead Space: Extraction will have a few twists and surprises to make it stand out more from the competition.
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