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Red Beret avatar 4:18 AM on 06.23.2010  (server time)
Why haven't I played this before now?

Well, folks, I returned Operation: Flashpoint, got my money back (thank you, GameStop, for your 7-day policy for used games), and then spent it on a game which I should have bought as soon as it came out..

Seriously, why hadn't I played this? Dead Space is one of the best survival horror games I've played since Silent Hill (the old Silent Hill games, not the newer ones with the Shamalayan-esque twists), story-wise. I also like the gameplay mechanics, though as with any survival horror game, it gets to the point where fighting through the monsters becomes less of a thrill and more of a bore.

Still, as I said, I find the story rather engaging, especially the way key pieces are presented to the player through logs left lying around the ship. It fills in the blanks while still leaving plenty of questions. The explanation at the end of it is... kind of BS, but it's not bad enough to where I can't stomach it. Plus, the background behind what happened on the USG Ishimura is plenty to the player in the game.

The gameplay was smooth overall, though some of the actions could be described as "clunky," such as the Zero-G jumps and using kinesis. I was actually quite happy that the developers decided to throw away the traditional HUD concept and use in-game holograms to show players their inventory, objectives, ammo count, and the health meter being a part of the player's RIG was also pretty unique, as far as I've seen. Even though the levels are pretty linear, there's still plenty of room to explore the Ishimura as you go along. The spacing of features like stores and workbenches were well-done, though it could be frustrating trying to get to either at some points during the game.

I do feel that the melee combat system could have been implemented better... especially when the player had to deal with low-lying enemies after running out of ammunition. It was a real chore trying to stomp those little skittery nerve endings (or whatever they're called--that's just what they looked like to me) out of existence... they didn't try to latch onto you, so you either had to stomp them or get them while they were on the walls. Other than that, the shooting bits went quite well, and being able to upgrade your different pieces of equipment was a real treat, too.

All in all, I'd give this one a 9 out of 10. Great story, great critters (if you don't include the cartwheeling leech things), and an adequately unnerving feel. I'm looking forward to the sequel, and crossing my fingers in the hope that it won't suck like so many sequels tend to do...

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