GamesCom: Dead Space 2 Interview

By Lee on August 25, 2010, 5:05PM EDT

We've already talked extensively with Steve Papoutsis about the upcoming Dead Space 2, but after being shown a demo from the man himself at GamesCom this week, we couldn't resist throwing a few more questions his way. Here the executive producer of the series talks about the Sprawl, the press' slightly stunted enthusiasm about the first game, and staying true to the series' horror roots. Obviously the Ishimura was incredibly important to Dead Space, in the atmosphere it provided. What does the Sprawl bring to Dead Space 2?

Steve Papoutsis: The Sprawl is the location of the very first planet crack in the Dead Space universe. It is actually built up on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. So in the Dead Space world this is where planet cracking began, and this outpost has built up over the years and is now a pretty substantial city with a variety of different people living on it and a variety of different locations. Issac Clark now has a voice. What does that add to the experience?

Steve Papoutsis: It was really important to the team to be able to tell the story that we wanted to do in Dead Space 2 and in order to do that we needed Isaac to be able to speak. We wanted him to be able to relate the experience of what happened to him in the past on the Ishimura, we wanted him to be able to really bring the story along.

One thing that I really want to make clear though about Isaac speaking, and you can see it in the demo, is that we're not making him some kind of comedic guy, running around spouting one-liners. We're still going to have that tension - everything that you expect of Dead Space. He's just gonna speak when he needs to speak.

So on the demo over here he has something to say, so he relays the message to somebody. It's not about cracking off corny one liners when he's shooting at Necromorphs, it's all about bringing the story forward. With regards to Issac - obviously in the first game he's not Master Chief - he's just a normal guy who finds himself in a difficult situation. Now he's been through the those experiences, is he a bit more badass, or is he still just an engineer struggling to survive?

Steve Papoutsis: I think at the center of Isaac, the thing that makes him truly unique is that he is an engineer. And that was something that the team really thought was cool and hopefully something that people who played the first game enjoyed about it.

But now in Dead Space 2 he is the only person that has dealt with the Necromorphs head on. So he's gonna be a little more prepared and he's gonna take charge as he knows how to defeat these guys.

As far as his personality that gets revealed throughout the game, I think that's gonna be something that's fun for people to find out as it reveals itself. Going back to the environment briefly, in the demo the Sprawl seems a little more open and bright. Is that true of the rest of the game?

Steve Papoutsis: You're gonna see some more open spaces to facilitate our new enemy types. like the pack where they are overwhelming you and overunning you with numbers. But there are other areas that are tighter. I think there's gonna be a really good mix.

Y'know in Dead Space 1 we did have a few areas that were rather large as well, so I wouldn't say that it is massively different from that.

I think the thing that is going to be different is that the enemies are tougher and I think they are going to be fun for players to deal with. So you're not shying away from the horror elements? The original was decidedly action horror as opposed to survival horror. Is it the same here, or have you gone further towards all-out action?

Steve Papoutsis: Well, the first game had plenty of action and shooting sequences, but one thing that was really important to the team and I, is that we're getting to make Dead Space 2 because people enjoyed Dead Space. And if it wasn't for the people that really enjoyed that game we wouldn't have the opportunity to do this one.

So we want to make sure we remain faithful to what we did there and make a truly good sequel, something that people feel, ‘Hey, y'know what, this is definitely better than the last one. It's a little bit different, but it's still got those elements that I enjoyed. And it's worth the dollars that I spent to get it.'

That's what we want to deliver. As far as going away from horror, that is absolutely not what we want to do. We wouldn't want to do that. Dead Space 1 was received well, but not amazingly well. But if you speak to people they'll tell you that it was one of the games of the year when it came out. Lots of people really love it. That seems oddly disconnected. I wondered if you had reflected on it. Is it the difficulty of launching a new IP perhaps?

Steve Papoutsis: Yeah. What was super cool about the first game was that it came out of nowhere. People didn't really know much about it. There were still people that were really following it and were there from pretty much the second we released anything online. But the expectations weren't high. To be honest, people were saying, ‘what's EA doing here?'

But now the first game has come out and a lot of people enjoyed it, it has really raised the expectations of people. So it's great that people are anticipating what we're making; with those expectations comes a lot of pressure. The team and I are constantly evaluating what we're doing in the hope that we're going to make a game that is truly better than the first one. Because, again, without those people that supported us from the beginning, we wouldn't be making it. Now that you have that success behind you, do you have more creative freedom here? Was there anything that was scotched from the first game, or anything that you didn't have time to include, that makes an appearance in Dead Space 2?

Steve Papoutsis: In terms of creative freedom, we've always had the ability to do whatever we wanted. Nobody's ever told us not to do anything. It's actually been really awesome, as far as what we do with the game.

But, there were things that we didn't have time to do. For instance, Zero G. Originally we wanted to include something like the fully-controllable, 360° Zero-G flight you see here today. But in order to get it to the quality that we wanted to match up to the rest of the first game, we had to modify our approach from point-to-point jumping.

So that's something that we wanted to do before but we wound up doing this time. One of the fun little diversions of the first game was the Zero-G basketball. Is there anything like that in Dead Space 2?

Steve Papoutsis: Well, we've got a new hacking mini-game which allows Isaac to break into machines and manipulate them and get out some engineering bits, but in terms of something like Zero-G basketball, that only really made sense for Dead Space.

The number one thing for the design team and the art team is that we do something that fits the setting, without forcing anything in. So there's gonna be some unique locations in this one and we're excited to see what people think about it. Excellent Steve, thanks. Oh and one last thing, in the demo did I see a billboard for Skate just before the big explosion?

Steve Papoutsis: (Laughs) Yeah! Yeah, good catch! Was it for, like, Skate 73?

Steve Papoutsis: Yeah, it's Skate 3000. The guys on the Skate team put Isaac in their game, so we wanted to give a nod back to them. They're great guys. It's really funny that you saw that.

Steve, thank you very much for your time.

No worries.

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