Where an engineer does what a trained soldier can't
Played to completion on easy difficulty (Xbox 360)
Dead Space is by far one of the most immersive games I've ever played. The art style and enviorment draw you in, the sound effects keep you on the edge, and the gameplay keeps you going. One of the best examples of modern survival horror, Dead Space is also one of the best games I've played this year.
The game opens with a spectacular view of the great void known as space. You are Isaac Clarke, an engineer en route to repair the USG Ishimura. As you approach the ship, you'll soon realize things aren't quite right. The ship is completely powered down, no one is responding to your calls, and It's up to you to check it out.
The first thing you'll notice when you take control is the lack of HUD. All you need to know is built into the game world. Health and stasis power are shown by gauges on your back, and ammuniton is always shown in a virtual display above your gun. Inventory is accessed by the left bumper and shown via a virtual display off center from your character. All this basically means that you are never taken out of the game. Going into the inventory doesn't pause the game, meaning every moment you spend in the menus you be attacked, always leaving you a little on edge even in a relatively safe area.
Gameplay is by far the smoothest I've ever seen in a survival-horror game. Basically, It feels like a smoother Resident Evil 4, except moving and shooting is essential. The camera on display here feels great, allowing full 360 degree movement while your standing still and only locking it on your charecter while your moving of shooting. Controls are mapped very well, with the typical D-pad hotkeys for weapons and LT-RT shooting.
The Plasma Cutter is your best friend
The weapons in Dead Space are all designed for one thing, dismemberment. The first gun you get, the plasma cutter, will remain your workhorse all throughout the game. It's simple ability to dismember both vertically and horizontally is always useful, and it's power remains formidable all the way up to the end. The other weapon can be equally deadly, and include what is esseantially an air cannon shotgun, a mine launcher, a flamethrower, and a one hit kill laser with an alternate AoE knock down that can come in very handy when surrounded. In addition to the weapons, you also have stasis and kinesis. Stasis allows you to temporarily put an enemy in slow motion, allowing you to aim for limbs far easier. Kinesis is basically telekinesis from bioshock, allowing you to pick up and throw objects from a distance.
The plot in Dead Space is a well told story of survival. Aside from the people that came with you to repair the ship, every human being you meet has gone insane. Necromorphs stalk every hall, ofen dropping from vents and coming through windows from all around you. From the beginning your goal is to escape, and it remains that way to the end, with of course a good number of twists and turns along the way. There is always a looming sense of dread on the Ishimura, and you will never feel completely safe while you criss-cross the entire ship to find a way out.
Graphically, Dead Space holds up very well. Even 2 years later I still felt like the graphical fidelity was great, this looks like a game that could have come out yesterday. Little touches like warning signs and recruitment posters make the world that much more real. The virtual displays and audio logs all feel immersive, I played this game for 3 hours without once looking up.
This won't end well for our good friend Isaac
The sound design in Dead Space really seal the deal on the whole experience. Random shuffling and odd mechanical background noise will constantly have you turning around, looking for an invisible threat. So many little touches in the sound effects up the horror considerably. Let me tell you when you walk through a deserted corridor and start hearing someone chanting the ABC song so softly it takes you a second before you realize what your hearing, you will not feel comfortable. The music reinforces this by ramping up during fights and being non-existant when enemies aren't around. The miniamlist musical score in Dead Space really helps set the tone, and doesn't dissapoint.
I bought Dead Space over a year ago and it has been sitting there unplayed up til now. A few days ago when I poped this game in I wasn't expecting what I got, one of the best survival horror games I've played. I can tell you now that it won't be long before I get my hands on the sequel, and I'll probably be eagerly awaiting the announcement of a Dead Space 3 before long. Even if you aren't a huge fan of the horror genre, I'd definetely reccomend picking this game up. The gameplay is solid fun, that combined with the atmosphere put this game over the top.
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