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We're hearing from multiple sources that they've shut down Visceral Montreal, the studio behind upcoming shooter Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel, but EA wouldn't confirm or deny that news.
However, in a statement to Kotaku, an EA spokesperson confirmed layoffs:
Today EA internally announced some adjustments to select development teams to align staff and skills against priority growth areas, including new technologies and mobile. Many employees are being retrained for new positions; however a small number will be released. These are great, talented people and we wish them well. EA is growing globally, and we expect our headcount to increase this year.
When asked whether Visceral Montreal would shut down, an EA spokesperson said "Not disclosing impact on individual teams or studios."
EA's Frank Gibeau also addressed the layoffs in a post on the company's website:
EA's leadership on these high-growth platforms allows us to retain and attract the industry's best talent. Thousands of our existing employees have been retrained and redeployed to work on the new platforms and initiatives. But when it is not possible to redeploy a team, we soften the tough decisions with assistance. This week we let some people go in Los Angeles, Montreal as well as in some smaller locations. These are good people and we have offered outplacement services and severance packages to ease their transition to a new job.
Visceral Montreal is the developer behind shooter Army of Two: Devil's Cartel, scheduled for release on March 26 for Xbox 360 and PS3.
The Art of Dead Space, a 300-page, hardcover book, has art from the entire franchise. So not just the three main games, but also spin-offs and other projects like Dead Space: Extraction, Dead Space: Ignition, Dead Space: Salvage and Dead Space: Liberation.
A word of caution: some of the images below are from the end of the game, so don't scroll any further if you're concerned about possible spoilers.
One of the artists featured is Patrick O'Keefe, whose Dead Space 3 pieces we showed you last week.
The Art Of Dead Space [Titan Books]
I beat Dead Space 1.
I nearly beat Dead Space 2, but I got so frustrated with one section near the end in which I was trapped in a room with regenerating Necromorphs that I shelved it. (This was after the amazing "needle/eye" bit.)
I come from a long history of loving sci fi, in particular, scary, gritty sci fi. Growing up I was more about "Aliens" than "Star Wars." "Event Horizon," as flawed as it was, still inspired a 20-something Cliff to implement similar scare gags in Unreal 1. "Sunshine" included, I love movies in which man explores space with his best intentions and all Hell breaks loose.
I'm quite familiar with the controversy over Dead Space 3 and the issue of horror versus action. Generally speaking, the scarier a game is the less empowered a player feels. Controls are often clunky on purpose, and the pacing is quite different from an action movie. It feels as if developer Visceral consciously gravitated the franchise more towards the "action" elements over the "suspense/horror" ones, and I'm quite okay with that. We look at the target audience for your average console game and it's often a cocky young male who doesn't want to be scared. Unfortunately, he's the guy who wants to get in and "fuck shit up."
Is it possible to blend the two? Yes, I do think it is, and those of you who have read my interviews in which I talk about how you could do that in Resident Evil have seen the thoughts. (Random idea 1: Alternate between two storylines, one is a first responder and the other is a terrified child.) Horror is HARD, and suspense is even HARDER. It requires a true director's hand. A nudge this way and a moment plays as comedic, a nudge too far the other way and it's not scary at all. To compound it all, making a scary moment is kind of like trying to tickle yourself. You think it's scary, but you're never sure until you test it on someone who has NEVER SEEN THE MOMENT.
(This is why James Wan is evolving into a great filmmaker. Apart from the slightly over the top 3rd act there are scares in his "Insidious" that work amazingly well.)
Regardless, I'm currently burning through the campaign of DS3 with my wife in co-op and it's still quite a bit of fun. The dynamic of using stasis and limb shooting in a co-op environment works surprisingly well. If there are surprises and scares to be had it's often the person who charges ahead LeeRoy Jenkins style who enjoys them. Grabbing a leg and impaling a foe is worth the effort, and it's gratifying.
I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around the weapon crafting and upgrading system, to be honest. Generating circuits, crafting them, etc… I could have used a bit more hand holding there. (The UI borders on comedic at times when you're starting a game, with ROTATING METAL PANELS OF STUFF FLYING AT YOU EVERYWHERE!)
Overall game pacing is something that's really hard to get right; it's something that a lead campaign designer or overall lead designer are responsible for and that pacing doesn't let down. The game builds to a crescendo of exciting moments (often with ships crashing) and then it takes its time before getting back into combat. The vistas and skyboxes are breathtaking, and the weapons generally feel good. (One of the issues with making sci-fi weaponry is that the guns don't always look like guns. I know the series was going for more of a "mining equipment" vibe but I often have a hard time figuring out which gun is which when they're icons.)
And yes, there's a part when the game briefly feels like Lost Planet, but it's a welcome change of pacing from dark space corridor after dark space corridor. One of my personal quibbles with the game is the lack of memorable locations. There are just so many corridors; there aren't a lot of areas that can be defined as "the room with the N in it."
Oh, and as a side note the parts when you're in space flying around in your suit are suspenseful but somehow peaceful, if that makes any sense.
At the end of the day this franchise feels like it's starting as a solo experience, a solitary and confined horror game, and now it's evolving into much more than that. You can either fight it or embrace it. I choose the latter, as at the end of the day it's FUN. (We're about 50% through…the giant drill bit section was a highlight.)
p.s. In the 60$ disc based market horror doesn't fly—it's the ultimate "Campaign Rental" that's played for 2 days and traded in and I'm sure EA knows this. When we're fully digital we'll see more true horror games coming back. (Look at Amnesia and Slenderman on PC.)
Republished with permission.
When it comes right down to it, Dead Space 3 is a game about standing in a corner and blasting aliens into bloody bits. I've been playing through the opening hours of the game, and despite recognizing the various problems mentioned in some reviews (including Tina's less-than-glowing review), I have to say that after six or so hours, I'm enjoying myself quite a bit.
Leaving aside the game's overarching successes and failings, I want to take a moment to go in-depth with the thing Dead Space does nigh-on peerlessly: this game knows how to stomp.
The thrill of stomping an alien into the floor is the primary reason I like Dead Space games. It has yet to get old. (I gather that given Dead Space 3's length, it might? But it hasn't yet.) Despite developer Visceral's insistence on adding detailed backstorthy, character-motivation and lore, only one Dead Space "story" captures my imagination, and it's this one: I'm backing up slowly, blasting away at horrifying creatures, hoping to violently dismantle them all before they get their massive, spiny hooks into me. That's it. That's literally the entire game, as far as I'm concerned. Everything else is just window-dressing.
I looked over my 2011 review of Dead Space 2 and found myself saying more or less the same thing:
Visceral has created a world in which things have real heft to them—metal body-suits contract and lock into place with satisfying clicks and pops, alien limbs are severed with disgustingly satisfying cracks, and mucus, blood and viscera splat and explode with palpable physicality. When Isaac stomps monsters beneath his feet, he begins to scream from behind his helmet, a panicked, desperate cry that's all but drowned out by the pounding of metal boots into flesh. Visceral Games, indeed.
The stomping in Dead Space 3 is just as good as in its predecessor. Sure, Isaac's motivation is murky, and he's a lump of a main character. Sure, the sidequests already feel kind of repetitive just a few hours in, and the jump-scares and large-scale encounters are entirely predictable. But sometimes I have to ask: when it feels this good to smash monsters to smithereens, who cares?
That combo move, which I have creatively named the "Kneecap-Then-Stomp," is my go-to tool for enemy destruction in the early goings. (I understand that I'll eventually be able to make weapons that far outstrip my current assault rifle/shotgun combo, but hey, so far this seems to work.) First, you shoot the enemy in the leg so that it falls onto the ground. Then, approach and stomp. Rinse and repeat until everything is dead.
Here, check out this extended cut of an encounter I survived during the game's second optional side mission:
I'm playing on normal difficulty, so it's easier for me to blast off limbs and close in for the stomp. Watch the way Isaac is animated, bringing his gun-arm up and throwing his leg down. It mirrors the urgency with which I'm mashing the shoulder-button, willing him to just crush this fucking thing so that I can whip my head up and deal with whatever fresh hell is likely onrushing.
In those moments, I feel vitally connected to the game and to Isaac, and I get a sense of just how disorienting it would be to begin frantically stomping while wearing a heavy suit of space-armor. Notice how the camera shakes when Isaac brings his boot down. Between the strobe-lights, the writhing monsters and the camera-jitters, it's all so desperate and chaotic and violent. And perhaps most impressive, it's seamless. The idea with these kinds of big games is that the craft will blend into the background and the player won't notice just how many people it took to make each part of a game work properly. And so it is with Isaac's stomp. But when I pause to think about how many different things had to work in harmony to make the stomp as awesome as it is, it's hard not to be impressed.
Clearly the folks who made Dead Space are aware of how much fun it is to stomp things. See that glowing case over there? Want to know what's inside? Better STOMP IT INTO DUST. The game also makes you stomp on dead monster-bodies to get more power-ups, which is at once an absurd concession to video-game logic (what, did the necromorph eat that extra ammo?) and an endearingly goofy concession to how much we like to stomp.
And okay, the sound. Audio director Nick Laviers and his team are killers. Every time I'll roll my eyes at another hackneyed plot development or grumble at a bit of backtracking, I'll survive an encounter and laugh to myself about how excellent it all sounded. (For more on the game's sound design, check out this cool video from Kill Screen and The Creator's Project.)
Check out the audio on Isaac's stomp:
YES. The boot just smashes into the ground, hitting just the right blend of the carom of the boot and the squish of necromorph-guts. (The scream at the end is another alien, by the way, not Isaac. He never gets that freaked out.)
I've been trying to figure out just what it is that makes me drawn to Dead Space games, sometimes despite myself, and the stomp best encapsulates it. I like how these games feel. The jury's out for me on Dead Space 3 as a whole—I haven't even landed on this ice planet that people seem to have such mixed feelings about, and I haven't sampled the co-op.
Last night on Twitter, I was talking about the game and Polygon's Arthur Gies asked me, with his tongue somewhat in his cheek, yeah, but how does the game make me feel? This was the best I could come up with on short notice:
That pretty much sums it up. The grapes are screaming, and I'm screaming, and as long as I keep stomping, it's a lot of fun. Stomp, stomp.
Some would contest whether or not Dead Space was ever a scary franchise, but most will agree that Dead Space 3 focuses more on being an action title. In a recent NowGamer interview, Dead Space 1 writer Antony Johnston explained why he thinks the added action emphasis occurred.
While admitting that the newer Dead Space games weren't really for him thanks to the action focus, he said that the emphasis was "a necessary evil in order to broaden the fan base."
"I know the developers always wanted to go bigger, in terms of scope. And I've mentioned before that the universe we created was huge, with lots of elements, which simply didn't make it into the first game.
"So to get that story told, to round out the universe, it was inevitable the settings and environments would open out a bit, become a bit more epic in scale."
Without the more epic scale Johnston claims that Dead Space would likely become "pretty dull."
What do you think, does Johnston have a point? It seems to me that regardless of what Dead Space "really is" (or was), there is a group of people that wish Dead Space 3 was more of a horror game. People who are upset to be cast aside for the sake of a wider audience, even.
This video from Prima Games shows how to get the "Devil Horns" weapon, which… well, it's actually just a foam finger. Like, from sporting events? Yeah. They say it's the most powerful weapon in the game. Makes sense.
To get it, you'll have to beat the game in classic mode. This is not the first time the Dead Space series has given us the finger. Nor, let's hope, will it be the last.
Via GameFront, here's how to take advantage of an exploit to farm unlimited resources in horror-survival game Dead Space 3, which came out yesterday for Xbox 360 and PS3.
This, of course, means you won't have to pay for microtransactions in the new EA-published game, which allows you to pay real money in exchange for resource packs. If you have the patience to farm forever, you can get the best weapons without shelling out any extra cash.
Which I suppose raises the question: is it unethical to take advantage of a glitch in order to avoid paying for downloadable content? I guess that's up to you.
The game itself may be dividing critics, but I'd hope there's one thing we can all agree on, and that's the fact that before the game's frozen wastelands could be played, they first had to be drawn by some very talented people.
We've featured Patrick's work here before, but now that Dead Space 3 is available at retail, he's been cleared to release and share with us a whole ton of artwork, most of which is presented here at wallpaper scale.
You can see more of Patrick's stuff at his personal site.