Review by Mikery15

"A marvelous puzzle made from some familiar pieces."

Dead Space. If you asked me a month ago what I thought about Dead Space, my reaction would have been along the lines of, "Huh?" That is because up until about three weeks ago I had never even heard of the game. After buying, and obviously playing the game, I can't believe such a great game got the little coverage it did (compared to other games).

You play Isaac Clarke. An engineer sent to help repair the USG Ishimura. A large mining ship used to "crack" planets. However, when your arrival there doesn't exactly go as planned, you find yourself and a few members of your team stuck on the Ishimura. With horrible monsters on the loose, and an alien artifact in the middle of it all, there are plenty of answers that need questioning. If you can live long enough to get them.

Graphics - 9.0

The graphics in this game are top notch. Wonderful textures, character models, and animations. The graphics in Dead Space are what we have come to expect from this generation of gaming. It is obvious that the developers have put a lot of work into this game graphically, and the result truly speaks to their level of skill. Which if I may say, is marvelous. The graphics do a great job of keeping you immersed in the universe, and really add a solid punch to the level of fear. The only real issue I have seen is a bit of pixilation with shadows, namely Isaac's.

Controls - 10

Easy to learn, and even easier to use. The controls do the job the way every game should. It won't take long to master the controls. The game even does the player a solid and uses Isaac's "projector" to give a brief explanation of what button does what. As with most games, the first level gives you a few simple tasks to familiarize yourself with the buttons, and after that, everything really becomes second nature, due to the wonderful layout of the controls.

Sound - 9.0

Sound is one of the most important aspects to a horror game in my opinion. Good thing Dead Space doesn't disappoint. The sound has the whole package, fitting music, creepy sounds, great sound effects, and very solid voice acting. I took away a point simply because I feel a few sound effects were overused slightly, but it doesn't ruins the game experience, I am just a nitpicker.

Game play - 10

Dead Space really hit the ball out of the park when it comes to game play. As I previously said, this game is similar to Resident Evil 4, and the over the shoulder perspective they chose really fits in with this game. Unlike Resident Evil 4 however, there is no quick turn button, so if there is something behind you, you better get that analog stick moving! I feel that this surprisingly adds a lot to the game play. A simple mechanic, but nonetheless, the lack of it increases the intensity and stress of battle quite a bit, but in a good way. It never feels cheap, or frustrating, it just does what every horror game should do. Keep you on your toes.

Gunplay

The gunplay is another aspect of Dead Space that plays out very well. The guns feel very different, and you are sure to fancy certain ones over others. Depending on how you want to fight, you have a decent selection of weapons at your disposal: Assault rifle, pistol, flame thrower, and a few others.
Dead Space features some RPG elements in the form of upgrades. You can upgrade your suit, weapons, and even powers. It will take multiple runs through the game to max everything out if you desire to do so.

Ammo IS a pretty common thing to come across in the game, however, you will go through it just as fast. In the end it really does feel like you have to use your ammo sparingly. I myself have come across a few instances where I was completely out of ammo during pretty tense situations. Don't fear though, enemies drop ammo, so you WILL be able to turn a seemingly ill-fated fight into a victory even if you do run out of ammo. Yet again, this is another aspect of the game that compliments the genre very well.

Melee+

Since you are an engineer who by no means should be accustom to playing superhero, I feel that Dead Space did melee the only way it should have been done. Clumsily. When you swing at your enemy with your weapon in hand, don't expect to send your enemy flying against the wall. Even the animation shows that our buddy Isaac is not too much of a brawler. I for one even find the animation hilariously spot on with how I imagine such an inexperienced person duking it out.

The game gives you a few "magic powers" if you will. Well, they're not exactly magic, but you get my drift. Among them are Stasis and Kinesis. Both are used in a great way and do not feel out of place at all. Stasis does what you might have guessed, slow things down a bit. If something during your mission is moving too fast, toss Stasis on it, and give your task another try. Kinesis, as you may have yet again guessed, is used to pick up distant objects from your surroundings, and relocate them. So if something is out of reach, odds are you need to give Kinesis a go. These abilities are upgradeable just like the weapons and suit. With such options as increasing the range of your Kinesis, and the duration of Stasis.

Missions

Backtracking can really hurt a game if done wrong. Nobody wants to go through areas multiple times just because the developers wanted to add a few hours to the game play. Dead Space DOES indeed have it's fair share of backtracking, HOWEVER, it serves a purpose. It never feels like you are just taking part in some "filler" that some games have, in Dead Space the backtracking actually makes sense in relation to the story. After all, if you needed to go turn on a generator to open a door in real life, you wouldn't magically reappear in front of the door. Plus, the journey back usually has quite a different set of scares and events from the journey there, and really, it's not that big of a chore getting back. You won't be spending a ridiculous amount of time wandering through the same hallways.

Some of the locations in the game are quite a sight. You will find yourself in a hallway covered in blood one moment, in a zero gravity room the next, and even outside the ship, in a vacuum. While out in the vacuum, you will still have to worry about enemies, and even asteroids, but you also have to watch out for your oxygen. You only have about a minute worth of oxygen when you start the game off. However, this can be remedied by using Air-tanks you will find around the ship, and by upgrading your oxygen capacity in your suit. Which allows for more time to be spent in the vacuums.

A lot of the missions feel similar in the overall goal. IE, go get this, go turn this on, but they are always a very different experience. Although the goals are similar, the execution and events that make up the missions vary quite significantly. Overall the missions are fun, and do one heck of a job scaring you during the completion of your goals.

Exploration

Don't be afraid to do a little exploration during your missions. There are plenty of items to find:

Schematics, which when brought to one of the stores in Dead Space, unlock new weapons, armor upgrades, etc. Always be on the lookout for these.

Nodes, which are used to open up certain doors which can contain quite a bit of items in them. Such as schematics, health, air, ammo.

Ammo, you can't ever have enough ammo...

From the tense fighting, to the clever puzzles, the game play does not disappoint.

Story - 9.0

The story starts off as a typical horror game/movie usually does. People are going one place, end up getting stuck there, and some monsters just happen to show up. Dead Space has a sort of essence of The Thing and Aliens about it. It would be no surprise to me to find out that some members of the development team were big fans of the movies. While trying to get off of the ship, you discover more of the story than that which is presented directly to you. Much like Bioshock, you will discover diaries along the way which explain some of the back-story and events that occurred on the Ishimura. Although, unlock Bioshock, you will find text diaries, and video diaries along with the audio diaries.

I am not a big fan of spoiling stories for people, so I will refrain from going too in-depth about the plot. Instead, let me assure you that while the game does borrow some elements from other games/movies, it does a wonderful job of becoming its own very solid story. You will not be disappointed, and if you are a fan of the movies/games that Dead Space borrows from, you may even appreciate the care put into the game to sort of recreate/reference the said movies/games. I took away a point simply because I feel that there are maybe a few too many borrowed elements. If that doesn't matter to you, go ahead and consider the story a 10.

Overview

Dead Space is a great game. It borrows elements from such movies and/or games as: The Thing, Bioshock, and Alien. The game play is fun, and the story is a solid horror/survival plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It is easy to see that the inspiration the developers have received was a key factor in creating Dead Space, and it's execution has resulted in nothing short of raising the bar for future horror/survival game makers. With it's RPG elements and exquisite atmosphere, it is no surprise that Dead Space will unquestionably be a sleeper hit. If you are a fan of survival/horror games, your game shelf should already have a spot reserved for such a deserving title.

Final Rating - 10/10 - Not an average.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/20/08

Game Release: Dead Space (US, 10/13/08)


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