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At Electronic Arts, Art Tries to Imitate Horror

The phrase that stays with me is "strategic dismemberment." It was meant in a good way.

We're talking about a video game here, not human rights violations, and Alex Charlow, a youngish marketer for mega game-maker Electronic Arts, was describing a feature of a yet-to-be-released game known as "Dead Space". The term refers to the kind of tactics a player must use to figure out how to fend off attackers in a nightmarish space scenario.

"Just shooting them in the head won't kill them," he said. A visitor to the company's Redwood City campus is also urged to make sure to see how the game renders "viscera in zero gravity."

So it's gory. But what might be just as striking in Dead Space may be the success the creators have had in borrowing techniques from decades of horror films. In order to create atmosphere, and scare the bejeebers out of players, the games scenery makes exacting use of shadow and light in a way that at times seemed to approach the quality of the movies.

It might not be Caravaggio - that Italian guy who was way before the Internet - or even Hitchcock, but it was striking, all the more so because it is generated by the computers as the player moves through the setting.

The game will not be released until October.

Watch this video to see for yourself.

By Peter Whoriskey  |  March 11, 2008; 5:05 PM ET  | Category:  Peter Whoriskey
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Yet another FPS that looks exactly like.... WOW!... The last one.... only in space! (Haven't we all been adjusting gravity for the heck of it since before Quake 1?)

I thought uninspired games with 10-year-old graphics (not withstanding the shadows you love so much) usually get released for the consoles...

You know what would be GREAT? How about some NOT ready-to-port-to-console-games that geeks really used to love?! Because... you guessed it, it took waaaaay more than a console could provide in order to run it... Which is why EA and others developing these pieces of poopie waste our time when they finally release these things. They don't want to invest time and money to have a console game and then a FAR SUPERIOR version for a PC... because as you know that would create jealousy and they make more money by forcing everyone to play the same sub-par games...

What I just saw on this demo and what I have been seeing for the last 5 years has been a waste of everyone's time and money in terms of value and anything remotely cutting-edge. If you ask me, the gaming industry has taken several steps back in their efforts to reduce cost and develop games intended to be used on Console machines since they make more money in that market... Meanwhile the real lovers of games are stuck abandoning them all together due to lack of ingenuity and lack of graphics and game play details that attracted us in the first place.

To the entire younger generation of pseudo-pc-console users... I hope you realize you are being amazed by graphics that are 10 years old, have virtually no precise control and rely on programming to help you aim etc due to the nature of kiddy controllers. Perhaps one day you will realize that the $600 you spent on that console game could have gotten you a PC that was at least twice as fast and been able to render something better than what they have been touting as the best graphics out there for a console.

And yes I am a proud owner of a Wii. The ONLY console I would consider buying because Nintendo understands the meaning of "console game". Basic, animated etc etc. They know better than to try and fool the same generation of people that bought the original, into thinking that console games are anywhere near cutting edge on graphics game play. So instead they made the only logical choice. Make the interaction better. To that point they did a GREAT job!

To me a PS3 or Xbox is just a 5-8 year old PC that will be thrown away in another couple years or relocated to a dusty basement... for $600. At $250, I won't feel as bad when I eventually retire the Wii since it didn't cost me the same amount of a PC to begin with, didn't even attempt to make we want more graphics or pine for a PC game in the middle of a tennis match. When I see an Xbox or PS3 the only thing I keep noticing is how pathetic the graphics are and how infantile the control interface is since they keep pursuing the PC game venues and failing miserably in terms of anything groundbreaking.

Posted by: LL22102 | March 12, 2008 4:13 PM

Looked pretty cool to me. I only see game graphics when they're advertised because I don't have time to play, and they always look less impressive than I would have expected. This seems to be a cut above. I'm reminded of playing a text-based game on a TRS-80 shortly after 'Alien' came out. It was even gorier than this :>)

Posted by: Richard Waddell | March 12, 2008 5:43 PM

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