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 REVIEW: Dead Space *Mature*

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Forsaken Lament 44
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PostSubject: REVIEW: Dead Space *Mature*   Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:24 pm

Dead Space: A Horrifying Addition to the Survival Horror Library
By: Forsaken Lament 04
Platforms: XBOX 360, PS3, PC
Publisher: EA
Release Date: October 14th, 2008
Genre: Sci-fi, Survival Horror
Rated: Mature

Dead Space Launch Trailer


As a long time fan of the survival-horror genre of videogames, I've always thought of the genre like most other fans have: as being mainly a competition between Silent Hill and Resident Evil. Sure there have been upstarts; Fatal Frame garnered a decently large fan following, as has F.E.A.R. Zombie games themselves have become their own sub-genre, with games such as House of the Dead, Dead Rising, and Left 4 Dead becoming rather popular in their own right. Still, none of these games have been able to stand up the popularity or quality of the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series. On october 14th, however, that all changed with the release of the much anticipated sci-fi horror game, Dead Space.

EA has finally deleivered a game which boosts a story every bit as enthralling as a good RE game, while delivering the scares and psychological thrills that are integral to any SH outing. Part of the reason for Dead Space's success lies with the fact that it really is a hybrid between the two aforementioned games. The scientifically mutated creatures and crazed villains remind us of Resident Evil, while the deformed religion of the enemies and emotional turmoil of the main character harken back to the best of Silent Hill. Throw in some inspiration from the films Alien and The Thing, and you have Dead Space.

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In a distant future where Humans have abandoned Earth and scavange for resources on other planets using massive ships known as "Planet Crackers," you play as an Engineer named Isaac Clarke, who, along with a crew of only 5, are dispatched to repair the USG Ishumura, the largest and most famous Planet Cracking ship in the galaxy. Upon your ascent in a tiny ship, the crew tries to contact the ishimura, which has broken radio communications and is eerily silent. Thinking there is nothing wrong but a small technical error, the crew boards the massive ship to investigate. They soon come to discover, however, that all 1,000 crew members of the ship have mysteriously vanished, and in their place are horrifying creatures simply known as "Necromorphs."

What starts of as a simple technical mission becomes a fight for survival as most of the crew is killed and you are left to fend for youself and find the survivors. Matters are made worse when you must search for your lost girlfriend, who may be alive somewhere on the ship. Along the way you will encounter several different types of Necromorphs, which more or less look like demented human beings with elongated limbs or tentacles which will be used to strangle and cut you to pieces. Needless to say, this is a refreshing departure from the typical zombie enemies, especially because these things really get pretty scary. The enemies also make things interesting in a different way: instead of the traditional "aim for the head" goal which is all too common in various shooters, Dead Space forces you to aim your weapon at the limbs and tentacles of your enemy, which is the only way to take on the beasts. This proves both difficult, and exciting, as aiming for the thin, flailing limbs of your enemy can be quite tricky.

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Thankfully, Dead Space uses a control scheme which is very similar to the one Capcom used in Resident Evil 4. As a third-person shooter, aiming your weapon requires you to look over Isaac's shoulder and aim with a beam pointer. The control is tight, precise, and clean. Never will you have a problem hitting the mark you are aiming for, which is important due to the difficult nature of shooting limbs in the first place. The rest of the controls are again, very similar to Resident Evil 4. Hold down LB to run, LT to aim, and RT to shoot...all of which(unlike RE4) can be done at the very same time, which is a nice addition. The game also gives you other unique abilities, such as the ability to use a "stasis" move, which literally freezes your enemies or other objects for a short period of time, allowing you to easily pick them apart without much effort(be warned, this move is not unlimited). You'll also find a telekinesis ability, which will allow you to grab far away items, as well as objects which can be tossed at enemies for extra damage. And of course, if all else fails, you have your melee attacks, which can be more useful then you might think.

Something should be said about the weaponry as well. Isaac is an engineer, not a warrior. And while Isaac does not blast his way in with the biggest guns imaginable, he is able to build new weapons with schematics you find throughout the ship, as well as upgrade existing weapons with rare and precious items known as "power nodes." The upgrade system brings an RPG element to the game, where you must use an upgrade grid to pick and choose which weapon and item attributes to improve. So for example, if I upgrade the Plasma Rifle, I will have the option to upgrade the weapon's capacity by 25 pts, reload speed by 3 pts, damage by 1 pt, etc. If I upgrade my Stasis ability, I can freeze enemies for longer, or give myself the ability to use it more often. Each upgrade will cost a power node, which, as mentioned, are extremely rare, which creates a difficult situation where the player will find it hard to decide which weapon to upgrade. Also due to the rarity of the nodes, it will be impossible to upgrade every weapon completely in 1, or even 2 playthroughs, making it all the more important to choose your upgrades wisely. There is a large variety of weapons to choose from in the game, however you can only hold four at once, again making player choice key to gameplay. Each weapon has its own benefits: the plasma cutter for its precision, the plasma rifle for its speed, the line gun for it horizontal beam(which is perfect for cutting apart enemies), the force gun to blow them apart, and so on.

As is Survival Horror tradition, Dead Space also features a number of puzzles, some of which can be every bit as challenging and as dangerous as fighting the enemies. As an Engineer, Isaac must not only fend off the alien horde, but he must keep the ship he is trapped upon in livable condition, which means everything from maintaining oxygen levels to keeping the ship in orbit. This means you are faced with the task of fixing machines and re-routing power, often times in zero-gravity situations...some of which without oxygen. This is where the game realy begins to stand out. The Zero-gravity situations are truly amazing, as you have the ability to jump from wall to wall, hang upside down, and face enemies which are literally floating around and flying at you. The controls in these situations are simple, and relatively easy to master. Aim your gun where you want to jump, and tap Y to dash through the air. But it's not all fun and games, of course, as often times there is zero oxygen in these areas(some of which are literally outside of the ship in space), meaning you have very limited time(your space suit gives you about a minute of air, although this can be upgraded) to accomplish the goal of the puzzle. You will often find yourself rushing for dear life as your air runs out, only to be stopped by enemies wishing to keep you from getting back to livable conditions.

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Dead Space is a lonely game. Isaac never utters a word, and besides the occassional message from your surviving crew members, you are alone in a silent and dreary ship. The graphics and stage design emphasize your feeling of loneliness and depression, as the Ishimura is both beautiful and haunting all at once. The halls are dark, dirty, and sterile(if you need a comparison, just think the colony from Aliens). Rarely are there any vibrant colors; instead, you'll find constant greys, browns, blacks, and reds. Ironically, the few moments you go off into space and whitness both the stars and nearby planet are more lively than any moment within the ship. Regardless, the graphics in this game are truly top notch. The ship's computers are running, the lights are shinning, and the environments look realistic. The character design is top notch as well, as you'll find Isaac's suit is detailed down to the last button and scratch, and other characters' face animations are about as close to real as I've seen in a videogame. And of course, the grotesque deformations of the various necromorphs are both frightening and exciting to watch, as you'll watch these creatures slither, stumble, bite, suck, and rip at you with beautiful animtation. Be warned though: this is a mature game which wastes no opportunity to display gore as bodies are easily ripped in two, heads are cut or eaten off, and limbs are blown off piece by piece. This is not a game for the faint of heart.



You will also discover that the game's music, or lack thereof, adds greatly to the overall Dead Space Experience. Besides the moments where you are surprised by necromorphs bursting out of vents, or have made some other huge discovery, there is rarely any music. The silence only adds to the loneliness of the game, and the music, (which is orchestrated) is either low and eerie when nothing is going on, or tense and frightening when a battle ensues. The voice acting is also quite well done, as all of the characters from your desperate girlfriend to the zealous Dr. Mercer have actors who put themselves into the role, and convey emotions both convincingly and powerfully. If the voices of the chracters convey emotion, the terrifying sounds of the necromorphs will convey terror. The silence of the ship is often broken by the screeching sounds of creatures crawling through vents, the gurgling sounds of deformed babies sucking the blood out of a corpse, or the wailing sound of a necromorph when you dismember it. These are sounds that bring life to the game, and will bring you fear when heard.

As for the overall value of the gameplay, you'll find a pretty standard amount of playtime for a survival horror adventure. With roughly 12 chapters, each taking about an hour at a leasurely pace, the game should take about 10-14 hours. If that doesn't seem like enough, beating the game will give you a wealth of extra features, including a new game plus, which gives you all of your items, money, and weapons from your previous game, along with bonus cash, a new and more powerful suit, and 10 power nodes. You'll also unlock back logs for the game, as well as an all new "impossible" difficulty setting. So while the game isn't terribly long, it certainly gives you enough to warrant at least one more play-through, if not more.

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Conclusion
Dead Space is a game with a powerful story that will resonate in your psyche for weeks or even months to come, as well as a terrifying experience that will keep you up at night. Great gameplay mechanics blend with a beautiful envioronment and poignant sounds to create a gaming experience that is both haunting and memorable. There are few flaws to this game, save for the fact that crew diaries are extremely hard to read(my eyes actually hurt), and that there aren't a large number of boss fights(while the bosses you DO fight are a lot of fun). Those two gripes aside, Dead Space is a Franchise you will likely be seeing much more of over the coming years. While it is similar to both the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series in many ways, it is original enough to emerge as its own entity which, as it grows, will come to challenge and perhaps even surpass those titles. Clearly there is much more to come in the Dead Space Universe, and it would be a shame to miss any of it.

Score

Presentation- 9.0
This is a game that harkens back to horror greats such as Aliens and The Thing, and the interface shows it. Everything from your inventory to the pause screen looks like a computer projection, giving the game a futuristic, and eery feel.

Graphics- 9.5
The developers aimed for realism, and they got it. The Ishimura, the crew, and the necromorphs look as though they were part of a live action film. The ship is detailed to the last pipe and button, and character animations are nearly perfect.

Sound- 9.0
Superb voice acting blends with horrendous enemy sounds to create a chilling experience. The ship hums and clanks as you walk through it, and the music, while sparse, is top notch.

Gameplay-9.0
Tight controls, quick learning curve, and smooth, simple gameplay allows the gamer to get right into the action. The game becomes difficult, but 4 difficulty modes make it accessable. "Aim for the limbs" idea is extremely welcome.

Lasting Appeal- 8.5
10-12 hours of gameplay provides for decently long gaming experience, even if you can't accomplish all upgrades or obtain all of the items in one play through. Decent unlockables give gamers a reason to traverse the Ishimura another time.

Overall- 9.0

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PostSubject: Re: REVIEW: Dead Space *Mature*   Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:38 pm

now this is the cory i know (or at least i think i know Razz)

the game does not look that bad i wish that my money suply was not low and my gaming to do list was not so high or else i would sure pick this one up (with a few other games that i would like to get also)

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PostSubject: Re: REVIEW: Dead Space *Mature*   Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:28 am

didnt like dead space they gave away so much stuff subcontiosly lol
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PostSubject: Re: REVIEW: Dead Space *Mature*   Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:11 pm

Gave stuff away? What do you mean Isaac??

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