Dead Space Extraction Hands-On

We touch down on the USG Ishimura for a look at the prequel to Dead Space.


Dead Space Extraction has a lot to live up to and a lot of preconceived notions to overcome, not just as a prequel to GameSpot's Best of 2008 award winner for Best Atmosphere and Best Sound Design, but also as an on-rails shooter. In terms of the former, Visceral Games (formerly EA Redwood Shores) has gone to great lengths to ensure that Dead Space Extraction is one of the more visually intricate games on the Wii, coming as close as possible to the level of detail present in its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 predecessor. "There's a lot of new content--new weapons, new environments, new enemies, and new bosses," says Wright Bagwell, lead designer on the game. "But of course, we wanted to reuse some stuff. You're going to be in some of the same locations, so we took some of the Dead Space assets--environments and characters--and brought them over to the Wii. I think we got them to look really close." And as with the game's predecessor, sound is an equally important facet of the Extraction experience. "A lot of the time, sound is the last thing that gets polished," he adds. "We're trying really hard to make sure Extraction hits the bar that the original Dead Space hit."

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As for the latter, on-rails shooters almost always carry several negative associations, the foremost usually being their penchant for overall brevity. Fortunately, length (or lack thereof) shouldn't be a cause for concern in Extraction. "Depending on how good you are, we've seen discrepancies in how long it takes people to get through the game," says Bagwell. "But our goal is to make Extraction as long as the original Dead Space." On a certain level, that proposed length represents the kind of effort that Visceral Games is putting into Extraction and how the company has seemingly managed to seamlessly join Dead Space's characteristics with those of an on-rails shooter.

In other words, important mechanics from the original Dead Space are on display in Extraction in some form or another. For example, when you come to a branching path, the floor guide from the original Dead Space (which told you where to go) shows up and indicates available routes, but perhaps even more prominent is the way that weapons and accompanying equipment work. In Extraction, much like in its predecessor, each weapon has primary and alternate fire modes that you can use by simply twisting the Wii Remote (the onscreen reticle indicates when alternate fire is engaged), but both types of fire work toward the goal of severing the limbs of gruesome necromorphs, ultimately putting them down.

On approach towards the Ishimura.
On approach towards the Ishimura.

We had a chance to use one of the new weapons, called the arch welder, and its alternate fire mode. This particular contraption shoots out electricity that can bounce from one enemy to another as long as they're standing in close proximity. Similarly, its alternate fire shoots out a massive ball of electricity that not only leaps from one necromorph to the next, but also creates splash damage when it hits the wall or floor. This proves useful in rooms where the necromorphs seemingly come out by the dozens. The flamethrower is also useful in these situations, but if you don't have either of these weapons, using stasis (which slows enemies down) in conjunction with something like the standard rivet gun still gives you the upper hand.

Every weapon in Extraction can also be upgraded and mapped to the directions on the Wii Remote's D pad, and considering that you can hold only four weapons at once, the same holds true if you come across a new weapon and want to replace one currently in your inventory. Likewise, given that there is no onscreen character model to display HUD items, you can monitor your health, ammo, and upgrade levels for weapons by pressing the minus button on the Wii Remote. These screens don't look quit as snazzy as those in the original Dead Space at the moment, but they're straightforward and easy to navigate, and more importantly, they appear only when you absolutely need to look at them.

Another interesting aspect of the combat in Extraction, and something else that's different from Dead Space, is the addition of the glow worm, which functions like a glow stick. When in a dark room, you can shake the Wii Remote to light up the glow worm and illuminate the immediate area. This will help you spot any necromorphs waiting to pounce on your face, and like a glow stick, the light that emanates from it grows darker and darker over a short span of time. "It changes up the combat because it almost makes it impossible to shoot enemies that are far away," Bagwell explains. "You can hear them, but you can't see them until they get up really close." Indeed, frantic doesn't even begin to describe the scenario in which two or three necromorphs lurch toward you while the light from the glow worm fades, and though it's easy enough to get it going again, that's not the first thing that springs to mind; the profound sense of panic can be delightfully overwhelming.

Necromorphs are just as ugly as before.
Necromorphs are just as ugly as before.

The motion-sensing capabilities of the Wii Remote also come into play during puzzle segments. During the demo, we came across an elevator with a broken circuit board that needed to be repaired. At this point, the game switches to a puzzle screen in which you essentially have to carefully and steadily trace a circuit line from one end to the other, but naturally, there are obstacles in the way--if you hit them, then you start back at the previous point. "What we've done is taken the idea from a game like Operation--a game where you have to use a steady hand," says Bagwell. "What you have to do is trace a line along a circuit board to rewire this broken elevator, but the idea is that anything red is electrified and will shock you." And if your hands aren't so rock steady? "One of the things we're working on is getting the sensitivity of this just right, because of course, some people have shaky hands," he explains. "The way we're going to address this is by customizing the Wii Remote in the puzzle mode. We're also going to make it is that so when you touch those obstacles, they short out, so you can go on if you've failed."

All of this happens under the premise that you're a part of a crew that arrives at the USG Ishimura just as the ship undergoes quarantine due to an unknown infection, and the adventure continues up to the point at which Isaac and his group arrives. In fact, part of the demo shows your shuttle being fired on by the Ishimura's asteroid cannons, given that its crew treats any visitors from the colony as hostile, but they eventually make it aboard. As we progressed through the demo, the crew split up at various points and rejoined at others, and it's interesting to note that when other members of the crew are around, they'll not only chat it up to help move the story along, but they'll also help take down necromorphs. But the ability to play with a buddy in co-op at any moment certainly beats that perk. At any rate, it already feels as if Visceral has captured much of what made Dead Space a blast to play, and we're eager to see if it can maintain that throughout the entire game. We'll have more on Dead Space Extraction before the game's release in the fall.

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Avatar image for BladesOfAthena

Not bad, in fact it looks pretty decent, though its still looking nowhere near as close to the HD versions. Even Doom 3 has far superior looking character models.

Avatar image for pivit81

"ChaosRevenant Posted May 29, 2009 7:58 pm PT It may not be an exact port of the original, but it still looks like it will be a good game." It's not a port, it's a prequel. Let that one rattle around for a moment.

Avatar image for kamicolo

Something that the Wii needs this is

Avatar image for ChaosRevenant

It may not be an exact port of the original, but it still looks like it will be a good game.

Avatar image for p-at-rick

I hope this will be a good game :)

Avatar image for hy4k

@blankshore you have to understand, i'm talking about gameplay mechanics. This isn't a survival horror game it's a duck hunt clone, and it's doing nothing we haven't seen before the fact that it's rated M is irrelevant. A few swear words and some over the top gore doesnt make it any less of a dumbed-down piece of crap It's still a quick, cheap, lazy spinoff that has been outsourced to a shovelware developer and it looks incredibly slow and boring. the E3 demo seems to be even lighter on gameplay than the horrible umbrella chronicles and the reticule is way too large for a lightgun game it is another joke of a game, from one of the crappiest publishers on the wii and it is not worth anywhere close to50 bucks. buy the original instead

Avatar image for blankshore

@hy4k You'd have to be pretty ignorant to honestly believe that this rated M survival horror game is aimed at casuals. And have you watched ANY gameplay videos? Does this really scream "lazy" to you? Really? Did you even read the preview? Surely that was a joke post, down there.

Avatar image for hy4k

i'll still be buying dead space 2 when it hits pc, i wont be buying this lazy, full-priced, shovelware garbage

Avatar image for hy4k

i have the right to be dissapointed that they are making this game cheaply/quickly, that they are dumbing it down for casuals, that they are outsourcing it to a shovelware developer you guys might be thrilled with an umbrella chronicles style arcade game wannabe, i am not. i didn't like umbrella chronicles and i hope this lazy crap bombs

Avatar image for Vengeful_Angel

It's a Wii exclusive; apparantly, Gamespot was mistaken. We can still look forward to the sequel on the other three platforms.

Avatar image for mwc8630

I have to admit my interest in this game has definitely increased after reading this article/watching the video. I'm not exactly well-versed on recent innovations in the on-rails shooter genre, but to the best of my knowledge it sounds like they're doing some cool new stuff with the formula and really making it a lot more interactive and interesting than the average game of this type.

Avatar image for pidow

What happened to pc?.

Avatar image for alp1206

Well when you cant really control your character only where he shoots it might totally ruin the game idk if i will try it. they need to make a 2nd one on the 360/PC that was just as good as the first.

Avatar image for alp1206

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for Fady117

Would have loved to have a prequel or expansion pack for Dead Space on the 360. Looking forward to these.

Avatar image for arodmell

Although I have NEVER liked the Wii due to its clunkiness and lack of decent graphics, I am quite surprised to see this. Good graphics and decent story. Reminiscent of all those arcade games you used to play as a kid. I aint gonna buy this but its still refreshing to see they have started to put a bit of imagination into the Wii games now

Avatar image for igl

Bla bla bla. The first PC game was broken, and so is my will to invest further.

Avatar image for Vengeful_Angel

{hy4k eurocom + EA is. they're clearly dumbing the game down to attract non-gamers, who as i've pointed out already will never buy this game anyways this should have been an internally developed survival horror game instead of a wannabe arcade game made by a shovelware developer. it will probably fail, and tbh it deserves to} Dude, seriously? How do you predict who buys what? You're not even sure yourself in that last comment. {hy4k a 12 hour rail-shooter sounds bad. a 12 hour rail shooter with a visible cursor sounds worse. a 12 hour rail shooter that is a spinoff of a good survival horror game, has a visible cursor and is being made by a shovelware developer as quiclkly/cheaply as possible sounds terrible} Dude, SERIOUSLY?

Avatar image for snake289

Can't they just port the original to the Wii and make everybody happy?

Avatar image for JackHoleFace00

It's interesting how the Wii is being touted as "fresh" and "innovative"... yet this game (and others like it, such as House of the Dead) has the same mechanics as the 25-year-old Duck Hunt.

Avatar image for StarlightHunter

My only beef with the Wii is the graphics. After playing the X360 and to less extent the PS3, I can't take it seriously, bare in mind it has some aswome games.

Avatar image for An-Archist

This is showing alot of promise, let's hope it live's up to the promise on release.

Avatar image for jenningsx

it looks good but its a pity they keep making excellent games into on rail shooters when they come to the wii like resident evil

Avatar image for marco245

In all fairness, it's not bad looking for a Wii game...

Avatar image for Psilyocybin

This does not look that fun, this is what resident evil did with their games and it was like house of the dead or something.. I guess its fine if you like shooters....just not my cup of tea.

Avatar image for hassy94

Dead Space was at best a 7. However, Dead Space: Extraction is going to be... a 6 at best.

Avatar image for Vlad27145

@ Vasot No, it's only for Wii. Gamespot just didn't care enough to correct it's indication.

Avatar image for Beastcake

This is looking pretty sweet.

Avatar image for StarlightHunter

Must get Extraction.......The Wii version to my suprise looks liek it works.

Avatar image for Vasot

Dead Space was a little repetitive but excellent !!! This new prequel-sequel sounds even better !! chimpanchu...the game will also be released for PC, PS3, X360 and not only for Wii

Avatar image for auntbessie

Dead Space is one of my all time favourites, cracking game, but despite being eager for the next game in the series, buying a Wii is not something I'm prepared to do.

Avatar image for hoossy1

@ HUNGRY HOMER, thanks for the insight from someone who hasn't played the game.... the fact of matter is.... This could be the greatest on rail shooter ever... and it will still fall VERY short of what the original game did so well.... So many of the times i got scared in that game was because of unscripted moments..... there will be no unscripted moments here... the end..

Avatar image for MERGATROYDER

WTF are you talking about "cdodo?" You can't even make a proper sentence. Don't be a critic unless you're perfect. And based on this alone, you are not.

Avatar image for chimpanchu

oh man. i don't wanna buy wii just for one game!

Avatar image for cdodo

someone who can't spell to save their life is stupid This game does seem like its the same dead space anymore. Now when the guys are behind you your super glued to a rail so your basically screwed. And its not the same gross out horror the first one, pretty sure I didn't crap my self once in that whole preview... It really shouldn't be the same name.... but, finally, a M game on the wii that i will actually buy.

Avatar image for kevinkelley1993

Someone who posts a lot of annoying comenets is stupid. Someone who posts a lot of annoying comenets and reapetes his oppinion a bunch of times is gay Someone who posts a lot of annoying comenets and reapetes his oppinion a bunch of times and has to rip on games that he doesn't necisarily like and could keep his annoyiong opinions to himself is a douche bag, what do you think about that hy4k?

Avatar image for eldin4444

on hy4k dude stop being so negative u dont like the idea so shut up or at least respet those who really feel good about the game or do some construtive critics but stop talking like that.

Avatar image for hy4k

a 12 hour rail-shooter sounds bad. a 12 hour rail shooter with a visible cursor sounds worse. a 12 hour rail shooter that is a spinoff of a good survival horror game, has a visible cursor and is being made by a shovelware developer as quiclkly/cheaply as possible sounds terrible

Avatar image for 10679

@ kiramasaki "here is no way you can make a rail shooter that requires some 15-30 hours to beat, which i would estimate as the range for how long dead space took." first all dead space doesn't take 15-30 hrs to beat even on first play through i have the 360 version and i got more 800 achievement points on my first play through and that took me 12 hrs to beat. That's because the game is way too easy. i feel that its about time that the wii gets a good game because so far the wii hasn't been receiving good games except for punch out.

Avatar image for hy4k

on rails isn't necessarily a bad thing eurocom + EA is. they're clearly dumbing the game down to attract non-gamers, who as i've pointed out already will never buy this game anyways this should have been an internally developed survival horror game instead of a wannabe arcade game made by a shovelware developer. it will probably fail, and tbh it deserves to

Avatar image for blankshore

I think it sounds great. And on rails isn't necessarily a bad thing. In a way, wouldn't that make the game even scarier? There's no escape. You can't run away from your problems. I also like the co-op idea. Personally, I think this is shaping up to be a pretty sweet game.

Avatar image for hy4k

i dont see why anyone would be hyped about this it's a cheap, outsourced spinoff that's been dumbed down for non-gamers (as if there's any chance they'll buy the game)

Avatar image for RTRGRZA

I wonder how will they incorporate the zero G elements of the original

Avatar image for Hungry_Homer111

I haven't played the original game yet, but I do plan on getting it, because it looks great. Based on what I know about that game, when I first heard about this game, I didn't know if it was the best idea. I mean, I'm not the kind of person who hates on-rail shooters, like some of the others who are complaining on here. But at the same time, I wondered if it could retain that "Dead Space" feeling that made it get such high scores and become so popular among gamers. It could be a good on-rails shooter, but I just didn't know if they would be able to pull it off and still make it a great game. However, the more I've seen of this game, the more I began thinking that they were doing a great job with it. I'm still not completely confinced that it will have everything that made the original so popular, simply due to the nature of it. But they seem to be doing a good job of getting this game as close to that as they can, considering the simple nature of the gameplay style. Also, thinking of it as an on-rails shooter, instead of a Dead Space prequel/spin-off, I think it's also doing a great job at expanding the genre on the Wii. Basically, I do like the genre. I'll probably end up getting most of the on-rail shooter games on the Wii eventually. But in order for them to really make the games worth while on the system, they do have to expand it in some way, past their arcade origins. Basically, will it be worth the time and money? What features does it have? How about replay value? And any actual gameplay features that make it seem like it stands out from the rest? These are the questions that I'm interested in when it comes to this genre on the Wii. For Dead Space Extraction, the biggest one that Visceral Games seems to be focusing on is the unique gameplay features. And specifically, the integration between the genre and the original Dead Space concepts. This is probably the most promising aspect of this game IMO, at least of what we know so far. I like how they integrate the weak points on the enemies, and switching between multiple weapons, different forms of the same weapon, and upgrading the weapons throughout the game. I'm also liking the fact that it is supposed to be as long as the original game (assuming he's telling the truth about that). However, just because this is the part that Visceral Games seems to be focusing on, it doesn't mean that I don't want them to adress the other aspects as well. Throw in unlockables. Throw in things to do to make it worth replaying (multiple paths is a good start). Whatever it is, I just want them, and other companies to try and expand on what an on-rails shooter is. If they do this, then I'll be happy. If not, I may still like it, but it won't really stand out that much in the end.

Avatar image for Glade_Gnarr

Umbrella Chronicles was good enough so this might turn alright too.

Avatar image for phase4illini

Still thoroughly disappointed by the fact that they've completely moved away from one of the strongest survival-horror games of all time and made a rails shooter. Might turn out to be a decent game, and as much I'm wanting more AAA titles for the Wii, I think deep-down, I hope it isn't a success, so that EA takes this game back to it's roots and sticks to survival horror.

Avatar image for ejstrup

This looks awesome for a wii game! Will be the first and only wii game I get this year. I would much prefer another Dead Space on 360 and ps3, but hopefully we'll get Dead Space 2 soon enough.

Avatar image for kiramasaki

there is no way you can make a rail shooter that requires some 15-30 hours to beat, which i would estimate as the range for how long dead space took.