Dead Space is EA’s latest release, and it’s in slightly unfamiliar territory. Dead Space is in the horror/action genre. With a new shooting mechanic and a fairly new concept to gaming EA has potentially released a great. We’ll take an in-depth look at the new dismemberment system, zero gravity and similarities to games already released.
Get ready to immerse yourselves in the creepy and eerie world of Dead Space. You are Isaac Clarke, an engineer who is sent into space to figure out an odd problem, which has been occurring on the planet cracker USG Ishimura. Once you set foot on the Ishimura you’re introduced to the ever so wonderful Necromorphs. Necromorphs are you’re enemies in Dead Space and as Isaac you have to use any weapons at you’re disposal. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as shooting the in the head or the body. This is where one of the best new systems comes into play, the dismemberment system means in order to kill the Necromorphs you have to shoot or cut there limbs off. Each Necromorph has their own ability and requires a certain number of limbs to be shot off.
The Ishimura as mentioned is a large Planet cracker that seems bigger than it actually is, with a large percentage of you’re time backtracking into already explored zones. Needless to say though it’s still a large area to cover and each section of the Ishimura is visually stunning. Some of the most impressive parts of the Ishimura lie on the outside or zero gravity areas. When in zero gravity everything floats and the only thing keeping you attached to the ship is you’re boots, while everything else is floating around. Given the ability to jump from wall to wall while in zero gravity makes traveling exciting and at times, very interesting. But this doesn’t come without its downsides, when in zero gravity enemies can also attach themselves to random walls and perform long-range attacks. Unfortunately when they do this it takes some time to figure out where it’s coming from and by the time you do find out they’re onto another wall.
The Ishimura has many rooms though and each room will uncover something new. The lighting on the spaceship really offers to the atmosphere. At times the lighting will go out offering a very creepy few minutes until the lights come back on. Unlike most games when the lights go out you know something is going to attack, but in Dead Space you’ll have no idea until it actually happens. The most beautiful graphics come when you’re at the front of spaceship looking out the huge windows at the asteroids falling. EA has managed to achieve a near perfect look of space. While searching through the Ishimura for the “truth” of what’s happening you’ll encounter several stops to help you on your journey.
The first is the Ishimura Store and Exchange. Here you can purchase, sell and store; weapons, ammo, health, stasis and so on. In order to unlock new items to purchase at the store you must first find the schematics for each item. The weapons all have their very own advantages and disadvantages. Some examples of weapons are the plasma cutter, your basic handgun, which is great for the start of the game when you have to fight the basic Necromorphs, but as the game progresses you’ll want to switch to something more useful like the Ripper. The Ripper is a tool that shoots saw blades and holds them about 5 feet away from the weapon and you can swing the controller around to control the blade and saw limbs off. The best weapon is the Contact Beam, which makes very short work of anything that steps into it’s powerful blast. If you’re looking to see enemies blow up into a hundred pieces this is your weapon. Also the store is a great place to upgrade your suit and buy stasis packs to help you replenish stasis and use more abilities. You can also buy power nodes.
Power nodes can be used at the Bench. The Bench is a great concept, allowing you to upgrade weapons, your HP, Air and special abilities. In order to do this you have to find power nodes, with these power nodes you have to place them in certain spots in order to upgrade such things as capacity, reload, HP, and so on. The only downside to this is that power nodes aren’t found like pennies, more like quarters, you find them often but not as often as you’d like. Also to upgrade one weapon, like your basic plasma cutter it takes twenty-one power nodes. There is an upside to this though, any upgrades done during your first run through is carried over to the next game you start. So once you run through the game about five times you’ll be close to having a super engineer. Along with all these upgrades Isaac also has abilities, three to be exact. All of these abilities requires stasis, so be sure to use wisely.
The first ability is to slow objects down. Sometimes you will need to slow down a malfunctioning door that opens and closes rapidly, so to not lose a hand or just plain die you’ll have to slow the door and cross through it. Another great use for this is to slow down enemies, which are coming at you quickly, but keep in mind this only last for a few seconds so be sure to make it count. The next ability is kinesis. Kinesis is the ability to grab and move objects without holding them. This is useful when there are tables in the way, hard to reach ammo and as a weapon. Items can be grabbed and shot with the right trigger at enemies with sometimes devastating effects. The last ability was explained earlier, and these are your gravity boots. You’re gravity boots give you the ability to jump from surface to surface in zero gravity.
Dead Space incorporates many neat features. Enemies can use the same dismemberment system used to kill them against you. This gets rid of the simple fall down and die of most games and adds an interesting experience. Another great feature is the boss battles. Some of the boss battles are simply incredible all at the same time keeping you wondering, “How did I beat that boss?” Also all you’re ammo and everything is stored in an inventory management system accessible with the Y button. This has strong similarities to Resident Evil games. So ammo, health and other items must be collected intelligently and stored to help you in further instances. But the greatest feature of all is that Dead Space has no HUD (Heads Up Display). This is great because it adds to the already rich in-game experience by having nothing but Isaac and your friends the Necromorphs. You’re health is shown on your RIG (suit), ammo is shown on your gun when brought up to ready position and air is shown on your suit also. To make navigation easier a click of the right joystick will point you in the right direction with a blue line on the ground.
Needless to mention again, Dead Space has incredible graphics and sound. Everything from Isaac, to the Ishimura and space itself look perfect and are as real as it’ll get. The sound only adds to an already intense atmosphere and will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Dead Spaces story is engaging and suspenseful; from the explosive start to the surprise ending you’ll always be turning each corner anticipating an enemy and waiting for the next dialogue. The missions won’t stop and though sometimes you’ll find that you’re doing the same objective that you did a while ago, you won’t care since there are plenty of enemies to dismember. There are no downsides to Dead Space, the story is intense, the graphics are great, sound is perfect, action sequences are intense and the list goes on. The only thing I have against Dead Space is that when you’re in zero gravity and the enemies are on other walls it can become very frustrating to find them. Not that this is bad, just frustrating.
So with all this to say Dead Space is a definite addition to any library. Consider it to be a mix between Bioshock and Gears of War with a few additions. The dismemberment system will make sure there’s plenty of ways for you to kill enemies. So if you’re looking for a new game to add to your library and hold you over until Gears of War 2 then head down to your local gaming store and pick it up.
Reviewed by Chris Gagne | 10.30.08
- Amazing graphics and sound
- Engaging story that will keep you guessing
- Suspenseful gameplay
- Great variety of weapons
- Upgrade system and carry over
- Just plain scary
- None expect the nuance of looking for enemies in zero gravity
Similar Games: Dead Space 2 (8.8) | Dead Space: Extraction (8.9)