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Dead Space Ignition Hands-On Impressions

The success of the original Dead Space launched a massive fan following that spawned a comic series, an on-rails shooter, and a highly anticipated sequel to further expand the lore. To whet the appetites of hardcore Dead Space fans before the sequel’s release next year, Visceral Games in conjunction with Sumo Digital will add a downloadable title to the franchise explaining the events leading up to Dead Space 2.

Dead Space Ignition is an interactive graphic novel with “choose your own adventure” style gameplay that will branch out into four different endings depending on the storyline branches you take. I got hands-on time with the demo shown during EA’s studio press conference. It kicks off with cheeky dialogue between our main character, Franco, a space engineer with a deep knowledge of circuitry, and a woman who goes by Anderson, a pair that appear to have some sort of history between them. A “that’s what she said” reference is thrown in the mix to give you a sense of the tone. This is also where the game’s art style is revealed and it’s not quite what I expected for a game pegged as an interactive comic. Facial animations look slightly deformed and unattractive. I’m hoping the rest of the storyline can help make up for the underwhelming visual presentation of the plot.

Franco is told he needs to repair a malfunctioning heavy duty door, similar to the ones found all over the Ishimura in the original Dead Space. It cannot be repaired remotely so Franco gets to work. He suspects the door has been tampered with by an unusual force that fried the circuits. This is when his engineering skills come into play.

Dead Space Ignition is built around hacking minigames. Three were announced including System Override (tower defense), Trace Route (race against signals), and Hardware Crack (puzzle solving). I got a chance to try Trace Route. A blue electrical signal and an enemy red signal race to the finish line while avoiding obstacles and nailing speed boosts. On the 360 controller the left analog stick controls the electrical signal, B drops a firewall so if an enemy runs into it their speed will reduce, Y drops a circuit board that will reverse the enemy’s controls, and X triggers a speed boost that can only be used once. Though a simple concept, quickly dodging obstacles is surprisingly challenging and requires practice. Games will increase with difficulty as you progress.

While the other two minigames weren’t available at the booth, we’re told Hardware Crack requires you to move reflectors around a circuit board to ensure the power source indicated by colored lasers will reach their corresponding color’s goal. System Override is more tower defense oriented and you’ll need to move viruses across hexagonal tiles and ensure they make it safely to the other side of the board.

Completing the game will earn players unlockables for Dead Space 2 including a special suit for Isaac. If you’re not quite sold on this, a decent price point may be enough to garner a download from fans when it releases on PS3 and Xbox 360 later this year. Consider Ignition as simply paying for downloading Dead Space 2 extras, you just have to work to get to them first. We’ll provide more details on Dead Space Ignition as they become available.

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