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Hands-on: Dead Space: Extraction

Kevin Kelly

We've seen Dead Space: Extraction for the Wii before, and we've seen it again at this year's E3, but have we gotten our hands on it yet? The answer is a very guided yes. We took the space survival horror for a spin at EA in an appropriately darkened room with lead designer Wright Bagwell, and we're happy to report that it does indeed contain several poop-your-pants moments, despite the fact that it's on rails.

Head beyond the break for the full report, and peep the new images in the gallery below. Quickly, before your light runs out and you have to shake your hand like it's holding a can of spray paint for more illumination.

Gallery: Dead Space: Extraction | 18 Photos

When we first found out that the only coolest deep space survival horror games from last year was coming to the Wii, we were indeed dubious. Although once we found out it was a unique storyline, we weren't quite so skeptical, although part of it does take place on the familiar derelict USG Ishimura. Does that mean you'll be running into people from the other game? Product manager Matt Bendett told us, "I'm not gonna say. I'll leave that up to you to say, but ... yes." Whew, one mystery cleared up.

We wanted to know if it plays like Dead Space, and the answer to that is ... sort of.

Another mystery we'd already addressed was "Does it look like Dead Space?" Thankfully the answer to that was yes. But then we wanted to know if it plays like Dead Space, and the answer to that is ... sort of. Obviously the Wii controls add a lot of different mechanics to the game like aiming with the Wiimote, shaking the controller to up a glow stick for illumination, and swiping with the Nunchuck for melee attacks. Once you get past that, it eventually starts to feel like Dead Space with a couple of gimmicks.

You'd believe you could fly too, with that thing right behind you.

Players of the original game will find it a bit frustrating that you're glued in place from time to time.

Since the game is on rails, that gives the designers a lot of control over the scenes that make you jump out of your chair. Like ... forcing the player view right into the mouth of something that wants to devour him. However, you'll also encounter plenty of those moments on your own in dark environments when your glowstick doesn't illuminate everything, or when it runs out and you do the patented "shake, shake, shake" only to find yourself staring into the face of multiple creepy crawlies when it finally lights up. You can look around somewhat with the Wiimote, but players of the old game will find it a bit frustrating that you're glued in place from time to time.

Bagwell told us "One of the reasons we decided to put the game on rails was because we're all film junkies, and putting the game on rails gives us the same control that a filmmaker would have. All the camera tricks that they do in any horror film, in theory we should be able to pull off. We thought we could do some things that were pretty innovative with the camera. We're confident that the game is going to have some really good scares." Hopefully that just doesn't mean yanking the character's view straight into slavering jaws every 10 minutes.

Don't ignore what your fellow crewmembers say. Or have leaking from their noses.

There's also a few minigames tossed that have you hacking circuit boards, a la Bioshock, and you'll have to use the Wiimote to solder connections and activate machinery, such as an inoperable elevator we found. There's also some sort of an infection going around, as we noticed a fellow crew member suffering from a nosebleed. The devs wouldn't tell us what was happening, but said there's a reason your ragtag bunch is all together. Probably not just dry sinus cavities, we're guessing.

Some new weapons have been tossed in, including an arc welder.

We were dropped in about a third of the way into the game as you're on approach to the Ishimura in an escape shuttle. It's under quarantine, and they aren't taking kindly to visitors, and you'll have to blast back against their defense cannons. Once inside, the game looks a lot more like the original Dead Space, and some new weapons have been tossed in, including an arc welder which comes in extremely handy in tight places.

You're playing through this part of the game as Nathan "Nate" McNeil, but you'll control different characters over the course of the game, which is a big departure from the original. You'll also encounter many familiar environments from the first game, although they look a lot more pristine and secreted-alien-innard free in this prequel. Both the original game and the comic series interweave and tie together in Extraction, and you'll find out why everyone is dead when Isaac shows up later in Dead Space, but you miss anything if you haven't played the PS3/360 version. They'll have a similar online marketing push like they did with the No Known Survivors website, possibly with new comics as well.

While not in super HD, the graphics in Dead Space: Extraction are fairly true to the original.

Extraction is a very solid shooter that will probably be a must-have for Wii owners.

Bottom line: We were really surprised how much this felt like the first game, despite being taken from area to area like we were on a model railroad. The good thing is that while you're in transit, you can use your telekinesis to grab junk and your Wiimote to blast things, but the bad news is you'll find it frustrating that you can't fully control yourself. The developers have an ambitious plan to make the game as long as the original, which most Wii owners would definitely welcome. Extraction is a very solid shooter that will probably be a must-have for Wii owners looking for something hardcore.

Two things we didn't see: zero gravity and co-op gameplay. They did tell us that we'd be getting to check both of those out in the future, but the devs were unsure if zero gravity would be at E3 or not. We're really itching to see what the co-op gameplay is going to look like, so we'll be bringing you news about those next week. Stay tuned, and take the stairs instead of the elevator.

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