A little over a year ago i had my first glimpse of Dead Space through an in depth article written in Game Informer. My first impression was pretty positive it looked like it had a strong story and could have the potential to be an outstanding survival horror game. Now that i have been able to spend a few hours with the game i have to say, so far it has met or surpassed my expectations overall.
I will try to describe the some of the most well done aspects of the games and point out a few of the flaws (without any real story spoilers) to hopefully encourage anyone considering purchasing the game to at least give it a rent and try it out.
Firstly, as you have likely read/saw/heard from nearly everyone who has covered the game to this point, though still worth repeating, the sound design in Dead Space is phenomenal. A good example of this is seen (or heard) is when the game scared the shit out of me with nothing more than the sound of a sprinkler system starting up. Their are a number of other specific instances where the designers use nothing other than your sense of security in an area devoid of enemies followed by a terrifying and abrupt sound that makes you spin around multiple times to make sure your not under attack from some horrific new foe. Obviously sound is also well used to increase the tension when their actually ARE enemies looking to remove your limbs in a number of ways, but the only other one I'll mention specifically is how the game uses sound (or the lack thereof) in a vacuum. Throughout the majority of the game you are usually accompanied by a cacophony made up of enemy shrieks and hisses and all of the sounds you can imagine a deteriorating massive space ship in disrepair would emit, one of the few times you experience complete silence is when you enter a vacuum and you are given no warning to any approaching objects or creatures keeping you constantly on your toes.
A few other well designed horror aspects that are found in the game is lighting/shadow effects and the gore. You will often find that when you are walking down a dimly lit corridor or around a similar corner, where you might expect to find your own shadow you will see what clearly resembles the shadow of one of the more easily recognizable enemy types even though their is nothing around you other than maybe some exposed cables or torqued walls. Also, as is often used in popular horror movies, when you enter a room that is uniquely well lit it is unlikely to stay so for long as the ship often experiences power malfunctions in these instances and enemies are then found to enter through the vents and ceiling panels, Aliens style. Gore is also something that i find well done in Dead Space as your dismembering of enemies before and after you defeat them usually serves as the "fuck you" i require to pump me up with enough bravado to continue after i have been surrounded by foes looking to separate me from my skull.
Also ill list a few faults in bullet form mainly because i just realized how much i have already written
1 - Their is always enough of ammunition to keep even the most incapable marksmen to from running low (On the medium difficulty setting)
2 - I find that the way the game tutorial-like start is too drawn out and leaves me wanting to know how to fully use Issac and his abilities far too long before enlightening me. (I at least never was told or possibly missed any instruction on the fact that the green boxes often found on the floor can be broken open for supplies, they kinda looked like the might have been hazardous also which made me take even longer to realize their use)
3 - And in my opinion the RPG style weapon upgrades are a little too drawn out for them to be useful in the long run, though it felt more worthwhile when your first using them.
Overall i have found Dead Space to be an excellent survival horror game that stand out among a growing crowd of less capable contenders, and if it the story, which i didn't write about as i am only 1/3 of the way to completion, stays as engrossing as it is now will take a seat with some good games like the RE series and Silent Hill.
i tried to post this about 5 hours ago but wen i try to view it i keep getting 404 error so if its double posted ill delete it (if i can this is my first post)