Dead Space – Review

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Dead Space starts you out with a beautiful opening cinematic of you approaching the USG Ishimura. Initially you think that you are simply going to the Ishimura to fix a communications problem. However, when you get there you quickly discover a horrific scene. There don’t appear to be any survivors from the rather large crew that was stationed here. The ship appears to be have been overrun by some type of alien life form and all of the systems are down. This is the brief synopsis of Dead Space. You are trying to find some way to get off the ship alive while at the same time trying to figure out what exactly happened. Going through the ship you will encounter some form of aliens trying to kill you, however, merely shooting them won’t do you any good. You actually need to dismember them to prevent them from attacking you. I would frequently shoot the legs so that they couldn’t run at me and then when they were down you can either shoot their arms off or go up next to them and curb stomp them. When your ammo starts to run low use telekinesis to pick up items and throw them at the enemy. It is a very brutal and violent experience and definitely earns its mature rating.

Throughout your adventure you will notice anomalies throughout the ship. It seems like there is always something that is one step ahead of you at times. Every time you accomplish one of your goals another problem is almost immediately found. Since you are in space you will have to deal with some puzzles which include gravity or the lack thereof. There are certain rooms where you will have zero gravity and you will have to jump and run across walls to get to your destination. Enemies can take advantage of this well and might try to come at you from above so you have to be aware of your surroundings at all times. The Ishimura itself is a very dark place. There really aren’t a whole lot of lights so you have to be careful that an enemy doesn’t all of a sudden round a corner and start charging at you. They also like to burst through vents so there really aren’t many safe places throughout the ship.

The controls take a little bit of getting used to, however, once you become accustomed to them they work really well. You can bring up your inventory at any time to check on your supply of air, medical items and ammunition. Ammunition can be a little hard to come by at times so conservation is definitely key. There are “stores” throughout the ship where you can buy more ammunition, medical items and even upgrade the suit you are using if you have enough credits. If you are in the heat of battle and you can’t bring up your inventory screen you can also simply hit the “X” button and if you have any medical kits in your inventory they will be immediately used to help fill your life meter. While you are exploring the ship you will also come across various video/audio/text logs. These help to fill in the story as you are progressing and they definitely help in setting the overall tone of the game.

The atmosphere surrounding this game is incredible. You can tell that the developers worked really hard on creating the most immersive experience that they could. There really is no interface to speak of in this game. Your life is represented by a bar on the back of your suit. There isn’t any meter in the corner of the screen that might take you out of the experience. It all flows together really well. The graphics in this title are absolutely stunning. You are immediately enthralled by the beautiful environments from the opening cinematic all the way to the closing credits. The map system is also very unique. When you bring it up it is like it’s on this monitor. You can go “behind” the map as well as zoom in and out to try and get a better understanding of where you are going. You can also press down the right joystick and they will give you a hint on where it is you should be going. This can definitely help out if you just went through a big battle and you became disoriented. The map screen also lists your current objectives. It will also show you where save locations and stores are at as well as where you can get more air and stasis energy. It will also help tell you where a bench is located. Throughout the game you will come across these power nodes. You take these nodes to a bench and use them to upgrade a part of your gear. If you want to upgrade your suit you can give yourself more hit points or give yourself more air for when you are in a vacuum situation. Or maybe you want to upgrade your weapons so each blast does more damage. It is completely up to you what you upgrade and the path you take in accomplishing your goal.

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Overall Dead Space is a fantastic experience. The audio in the game is another amazing aspect. The audio in the game accomplishes its goal in ratcheting up the level of tension as you are exploring the ship. EA did a great job of marketing the title and creating another intellectual property that gamers will surely love. No game is perfect however and there are a few things that could be improved if we are to see a sequel. As you progress through the game it does tend to get a bit repetitive at some points. The payoff at the end is usually worth it but I can see some gamers getting bored briefly with some aspects. This game is also a single player experience only. While there is nothing wrong with that some gamers will be disappointed in the lack of multiplayer. Going through this adventure utilizing co-op over Xbox Live could definitely add another dimension to the experience as well. The camera at times can also be a hindrance particular in zero g situations. It can be a bit disorienting until you figure out where you need to be going. My only other real complaint is the “New Game +” feature. You won’t be able to get all of the upgrades and everything in your initial play through , so using New Game plus seems like an ideal solution as you will retain all of your items from the game after you beat it. Using New Game plus you can start over at the beginning of the game with all of the items and everything you earned from the previous play through. Where this idea falls apart is the fact that you can’t change your difficulty when you do this. If you choose the Medium difficulty for your initial play through you will be locked to that difficulty setting if you choose to utilize the New Game plus feature. If you try to change the difficulty setting to give you more of a challenge then you will lose everything you earned and you will start out the same way you did the first time you put the game in your system. It would be nice if this could be fixed with a patch as I think it would add to the replayability of this title, especially considering the lack of multiplayer.

Generally speaking Dead Space is a fantastic experience. It is one that everyone should play even if you are not traditionally a fan of the horror genre. The story telling is done really well and I can definitely see this as being a new franchise for EA. Among all of the other titles that are coming out this holiday season be sure to make some time for Dead Space. You will be glad you did.

Score: 8/10

Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network

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