Publishers seem to be taking many paths to adapting HD properties to the Wii. Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop was an attempt at a straight port which has so far resulted with limited critical success. Overlord: Dark Legend on the other hand is a new game that retains the core gameplay of the original while making the most of the Wii’s controls. Unsurprisingly it is one of the more anticipated releases on the console. So is EA’s morphing of Dead Space Extraction into an on-rails shooter really the best way the IP could have been adapted to the Wii?
It will allow the developers to keep more of the original’s core elements.
The original Dead Space was an impressive game in many technical respects – its lighting, zero-g environments and strategic dismemberment all stood out. Switching the prequel to a fixed perspective may allow EA and Eurocom to implement many of the features that would otherwise have been lost had they stuck with free-roaming gameplay due to the Wii’s lesser power.
Dead Space was already a very linear game.
Some of the criticism leveled at the first game was that it was repetitive, overly linear and employed boring backtracking. Switching the game to an on-rails shooter may help the developers to streamline these issues and provide a more compelling and evenly paced adventure as designers will have complete control over what the gamer experiences from start to finish.
Puzzles, co-op and Motion Plus.
It has been confirmed that Extraction will feature puzzles and utilize Motion Plus (Update: After what was taken as confirmation, Extraction won’t be making use of Motion Plus after all). The inclusion of puzzles already distinguishes the game from the myriad other lightgun games available on the system, and Motion Plus could be used to great effect in many parts of the game if utilized well. Puzzles and even the combat itself could benefit from the more accurate recognition of the peripheral. Co-op play also looks to have been thoughtfully implemented too with an eye on separate strategies for each player.
The sense of exploration will be lost.
Despite the encouraging news that Extraction will feature puzzles, unless the developers provide some sort of control over the main character, all sense of exploration will be lost. Control over which parts of the environment are to be visited and in what order would help counteract the loss of freedom that on-rails games typically suffer from.
The Wii is crying out for a decent 3rd person survival horror title.
Since Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition‘s release, the million plus gamers who bought it have been clamoring for another 3rd person survival horror title of similar quality. Extraction could have been that game. While there are justified concerns over whether the Wii can do all the things that made the original Dead Space so unique, what isn’t in question is how much the gunplay and controls in general would have been enhanced by the Wii remote and nunchuk had the developer stuck with the free-roaming gameplay and a 3rd person perspective.
On-rails could mean a more shallow experience.
The lingering question over the game’s switch to lightgun style action is if the change was made simply to dumb-down the experience. If this is the case, then EA have surely made the wrong decision. The House of the Dead: Overkill is part of a long running and extremely popular arcade lightgun series that has fans worldwide. Dead Space‘s existing fan base is sophisticated and firmly in the hardcore category. If Extraction is indeed an exercise in simplification, it will alienate existing fans, and not have the brand recognition to draw in the expanded audience either.
From the trailer released of the game so far, Extraction does seem to have a large budget and a lot of effort behind it. Though whether the game can succeed by employing the same limited gameplay as a typical on-rails shooter is unlikely. Unless EA and Eurocom really offer some unique twists on the standard lightgun formula, which they have been promising, it’s likely Extraction will be seen as an aberration rather than a game that genuinely adds to the Dead Space canon.