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Home » Featured, Reviews

Dead Space; Open?

Submitted by on Sunday, 9 November 20085 Comments


That’s the word that will become embedded in your consciousness when you’re done with Dead Space. That ironic hologram, asking you every single time you are about to open a door. It knows you’re scared and it’s using that fear of yours to its own advantage.

It’s amazing what the guys over at EA Redwood Shores have managed to accomplish. They have shamelessly “borrowed” elements of other games and mixed them together to create a unique experience. Can you blame them? There answer is no. Why? Because they made the best Survival Horror game this generation has seen – and it will probably stay that way for a while.

Like most games that belong to the survival horror genre, it will try to scare you; A LOT! The enemies are creepy, the environments are creepy, the music is creepy; everything should have a tag on it reading ‘creepy’…

But enough beating around the bush. Let’s start from the graphics, shall we?

Without a doubt, Dead Space is one of the prettiest games on the PlayStation 3. Even from the first minutes, you’ll be amazed from the lighting effects and the attention to detail. In the intro cutscene, you’ll think “Nah, it’s just a video; there’s no way these are gameplay graphics”. Well, you’re in for a surprise. Dead Space manages to impress you, even when you’re not expecting it. You’ll reach areas so well detailed, that they’ll have stop and stare them.

The level design is creative – well, as creative the interior of a mining spaceship could be – without getting dull and repetitive. No to mention the necromorphs’ design, which is exquisite. One minor flaw is the human characters’ design, which could be better. But since you’ll not be meeting them too often, it doesn’t matter does it?

Dead Space succeeds in the visual sector, but what can be said about the sound?

To put it in simple terms, never has a game managed to make such good use of the sound effects. Dead Space would be nothing without it.

The voice-over is impressive and the guns sound realistic in a futuristic way,  but where it excels is the environmental sounds. You’ll be finding yourself scared to death by a noise you heard, even with nothing happening around you. Instead, the scary stuff will happen when you least expect it.

Let me explain; You enter the ship’s morgue. You walk into the room and the doors of the “fridges” open. Out of instinct, you press L1 and prepare yourself for a battle. Ironically, nothing happens. Only when you turn around you find the purpose of this “distraction”. Two necromorphs have been crawling behind you without making a sound in order to ambush you. Yeah, that happens.

Speaking of necromorphs, there are many types of them. Slashers are the main enemies in the game. Later on, you’ll get to meet Lurkers (they resemble babies), Pregnants and other mutated abominations. Although variety is not the case here, the diabolical A.I. of the necromorphs will test your skills in a constant basis. They often use the vents to get to you, especially if there is an obstacle between you and them. They will not even cough when they want to sneak behind you. You’ll only know they are there when you turn around and see them.

We have seen many “jaw-dropping” games with stunning visuals and sound getting “murdered” by the lack of balanced gameplay. Thankfully, Dead Space has nothing to fear. Ok, it “borrowed” the over-the-shoulder camera angle of Resi 4, but who didn’t? The control scheme couldn’t be any better and the guns handle just fine.

The only drawback I noticed is the limited accuracy of the Pulse Rifle (aka Fully Automatic Military Assault Rifle). Isaac has the ability to move objects using his kinesis module. He’s no Apprentice, but he gets the job done (pull a level, clear a blocked path etc.)  Using his stasis module, he can also “freeze” a certain area for a time period allowing him to surpass fast moving obstacles or stall an enemy.

As far as the armoury is concerned, don’t you worry; Isaac has some tricks up his sleeve! You start with the basic tool of every engineer, the Plasma Cutter. It may look innocent, but it can do some serious damage, especially when upgraded. Through the game, schemes can be found and then uploaded into the Store. That way, you can have access to new weapons, ammo, healthpacks and the list goes on. By Chapter 7, the player should have the complete armoury of the game in his possession. Note that Isaac can only carry 4 weapons at a time, so make wise decisions when gearing up.

Undoubtedly, Dead Space’s greatest card is its story. The universe EA managed to create has proven worthy of its hype. We saw a comic series based on the game’s storyline, an animated movie (which worked as a prequel to the game), even a full-length motion picture is said to be in the works!

The risk of creating a new IP is big. You don’t know how people will react. EA took that risk and the Dead Space universe was created.

All in all, Dead Space is a preservative but altogether evolutionary game. It takes everything that made other survival horror games successful and bonds them together to create something new and fresh; something worth talking about in years to come…