Developer: EA Redwood Shores
Release Date: 10/13/2008
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Well, well, well EA finally pulls itself together. After this and the upcoming Mirror’s Edge, I think EA finally got some brains that were full of new IP and original content. Dead Space is a superbly gruesome and atmospherically terrifying game that goes above and beyond the call of duty (no pun intended) when it comes to atmosphere, story, and gameplay ideas. The story is really unique and it’s been ages since a great new original story has blossomed in the horror genre. You are Isaac Clarke who is a repairman sent out to the Ishimura to find out why there are no communications on that ship. The ship is known as a “Planetcracker” and is carrying a mysterious relic called “The Marker” and Isaac finds everyone aboard dead and the place deserted…well except extremely creepy monsters, a couple crazy doctors, and his girlfriend…yeah it’s a superb story and it’ll keep you hooked throughout, but won’t really unfold until the last three levels.
Let’s go right into gameplay; you can buy five different weapons (yeah this game NEEDED more weapons) they are the plasma cutter, ripper, flamethrower, force gun, and contact beam, and the line gun. They are all cool weapons yet there is a twist: They’re TOOLS, not guns. Isaac is a repairman, see, not a one-man-army mercenary or ex-military dude. This guy was NOT trained for combat and he must learn very quickly how to defend himself. This makes the game feel even more creepy and makes you feel more helpless since you have to make due with what you have. What I loved is that everything is displayed visually so there are no meters, bars, or gauges telling you your health and ammo. Everything is displayed on you. You have your health bar which is a bar on your suit, your stasis bar is on your back (more on stasis later), your ammo is displayed holographically when you’re using your weapons and so is your flashlight.
Everything in the game is easily accessible and the controls are well mapped out. You can use melee combat by stomping on enemies or punching them. While you’ll not want to do this since it’s a bit clunky it saves your butt in hairy situations. The way you kill enemies is by dismembering them to do extra damage. If you shoot their legs off they’ll crawl to you, shoot their arms off and they bite you to death, shoot one arm and one leg off they’ll still crawl to you, decapitate them and well they’ll still try to kill you! If you get overwhelmed just use your stasis and slow them; this is a must do for some creatures like the Twitchers who run ultra fast. The creatures are very disturbing and are probably some of the sickest and twisted things created in a game I’ve EVER seen. These things are nasty and you just feel the pain when you realize these were all once humans (most of them). There are also lots of cinematic sequences like when a tentacle arm grabs your leg and it’s dragging you down a hall while you’re trying to shoot it off. There are HUMONGOUS boss fights, some turret gun sections etc.
You’ll NEVER get bored with the game since the scores vary so much. You’ll walk down a hall and a guy will be petting his dismembered leg then fall over dead, you’ll hear a nurse laugh hysterically and blow her brains out, people will be killed behind bulletproof glass etc. The game has a VERY disturbing atmosphere and you really do get scared with all of the amazing ambient sound effects that will keep you on the edge and make you jump constantly. Dead Space does everything differently from other horror games since its all so surreal because of the way it’s done. You really do feel abandoned on a ship that once was bustling with life. The graphics are also absolutely amazing; these are some of the best graphics seen so far and they are breathtaking. There’s not much I can say except see it for yourself you’ll be blown away!
There are segments that are zero gravity and vacuums. Zero gravity sections have you jumping around room solving puzzles and shooting things. These are very interesting and changes the pace a lot. When you enter a vacuum you are on an air timer and if you don’t have any spare air can you’re dead! You can upgrade everything via work benches by finding or buying power nodes. These work like “trees” where you have to fill a path to that upgrade with nodes. Each weapon has different upgrade specs and you won’t be able to upgrade them all in one play through. In fact, it’ll take about two playthroughs to get all achievements. There is plenty to do in the game and the achievements are not impossible to get (like in FEAR!!! or Burnout Revenge!!!) so don’t panic.
All I have left to say is that Dead Space is absolutely amazing and I’d give it a higher score if there were more enemy types, more weapons, and just a bit more variety. There’s enough to keep you interested through a couple of playthroughs and I hope there will be a sequel (wait…it’s EA, of course, there will be!!! Until we hate it…) There are six Dead Space comics available that you can pick up for about $15 for the lot. I HIGHLY suggest reading these since they fill you in about a few weeks before the game takes place. They have the same atmosphere and storytelling as the game and they are a really good read. Dead Space is one of the best horror action games made and this will be a piece of gaming history, and I also look forward to the next few sequels.