The third installment in the Dead Space series was released this month. Given the game was on our list of Most Anticipated PC Games of 2013, we thought we'd check it out to see how it looks and works. Dead Space 3 is the direct sequel to the January 2011 release of Dead Space 2.
Like the first two games, Dead Space 3
is a survival horror third person shooter. In addition to drop-in / drop-out co-op, Dead Space 3 features some new game mechanics, like the ability to roll for more responsive control, and an organic, automatic cover system where you don't have to press a button to duck behind something .
Like its predecessor, Dead Space 3 was developed in-house by Visceral Games using its own Visceral Engine. With that, we expect only minor improvements in terms of visual quality compared to Dead Space 2, a DirectX 9-only title.
The reason for this is simple: Dead Space 3 was developed for consoles and then ported directly to the PC. Although it is possible to set some settings a little higher on the PC, modern functions that are part of DirectX 11 or high-resolution textures are not immediately supported.
This is a real shame, but by no means surprising given that most cross-platform games end up on this PC. Normally we'd skip console ports like we did with Dead Space 2, but Dead Space 3 was touted as "one of the best games of this generation" by Game Informer just days after it was released, so we thought it was worth checking out.
The game seems to be getting higher praise on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 compared to PC, and as expected, PC franchise fans are not impressed with the lack of visual features. Visceral took some heat, but executive producer Steve Papoutsis is a little baffled why …
"It is confusing to me that this question should come up at all, that it is by no means less important to us and that it receives a lot of attention. The PC is a completely different platform. As a developer you want to offer an experience that is as similar to what is possible on different platforms.
In Dead Space 2, we felt like we had made some huge strides in terms of controls, responsiveness, and even the visual improvements. We keep developing our games as we develop them, but there is no way we are targeting the PC as something that will be vastly different. We're not trying to create differences in the experience our players enjoy. We want to make sure everyone has the same experience. "
We believe Steve Papoutsis is missing the point. Dead Space 3 on PC competes in a market where other developers are putting at least some effort to capitalize on the system's strengths, and games like Battlefield 3 and Crysis 3 are perfect examples of this. Keep in mind that gamers pay the highest price for Dead Space 3, too. The fact that DirectX 11 functions as offered by most other AAA ports are not supported should not confuse Viscerals Papoutsis.
We typically test new games with over two dozen graphics cards and use multiple platforms to measure CPU performance. This time around, however, we knew Dead Space 3 wouldn't be too demanding in advance and decided to run a more precise test of 11 graphics cards on a single platform.
The CPU performance didn't seem to matter too much as any processor that supports 4 threads has playable performance. For practically the same reason, we're only testing a range of current-generation GPUs that cover all price ranges.
As always, the latest drivers are used for both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards, and each card is paired with an Intel Core i7-3770K processor. We use Fraps to measure frame rates during 90 seconds of gameplay footage from the first chapter of Dead Space 3, Isaac's Apartment.