Game Review – Dead Space [Xbox 360]

What can I say?

The people over at EA did a great job. This game shines with polish. From the writing on the walls to the dust particles in the air to lens flare when you look towards a light. From the opening cinematic I could tell that the game was going to have quality visuals. When you can see single fibers in the clothing of the main character it’s a good thing. ; )

You start the game as Issac Clarke who is sent to the ship Ishimura (“rock village” in Japanese) to fix a total communications blackout. Your assignment is to repair the ship and get gone. Sounds easy enough right? Well things start to go wrong as soon as you get there. No survivors, power is running low, and you’ve been cut off from everyone else. Great! And that’s when the aliens attack, which is where the fun actually begins.

The thing that is blatantly shoved down your throat at the beginning of the game is that you need to take off the limbs of the aliens in order to kill them quickly. Since your not a Master Chief or a Marine from Doom, you need to use whatever you got to do it. And what you have are mining tools. They pretty much work the same as a regular weapon and get the job done, all of the weapons have an alternate firing mode. Take for example the first weapon you get: it has a regular attack that is a vertical 3 shot and the alternate firing mode changes the gun to shoot horizontally. Of course making it easier to take the limbs off of certain types of aliens. My favorite weapon is the ripper >) ask me about it if you want to know more. The death animations for the main character are great, sometimes I catch myself dying just to check them out. Not to worry though the save points throughout the game are everywhere and the game saves surprisingly fast.

I love what they did with the HUD….there is none! Everything you need to know is visual on the character, how much health you have is shown by the tube on Issac’s back as well as other abilities described later. Another great thing is that your ammo is shown as a hologram projection off of the weapon that you are using as in the picture above. Along the same lines when you pull up your inventory or map screen it’s a projection as well but the game doesn’t pause while your looking through your items. The game is great at keeping the experience seamless.

When you get close to the monsters (which isn’t something you want to do) they usually grab you and do quite a bit of damage if of course you don’t get them off of you by hitting the A button repeatedly. I think that aspect of the game adds to the tension of the game. Your fighting one alien and then you get attacked from behind and have to fight the alien off of you while the the other is still approaching you. Once you get that alien off of you then you need to make sure he’s not going to get back up again. They added a melee attack and a boot stomp attack. Issac’s boot stomp seems to have a lot of umph behind it so when you stomp he really means it.

Another ability you get is Telekinesis: this lets you move bigger objects in the level so that you can continue further into a level. It handles like the Force Unleashed force grip, attaching to one object and you hold onto it until you drop it or throw it across the room or at some baddies. Fun fun fun. Some areas have no oxygen and you have to be quick about what your doing because you’ll run out of air. The more you upgrade your suit the more air you can have.

Speaking of upgrades!

You can upgrade your suit with more health, air, or inventory space via “power nodes” these little disc’s are the way you “level” up. Regarding weapons you can also upgrade the capacity of the weapon, the damage, or even reload speed. Once you have a node you can take it to a bench and upgrade your stuff there, again trying to actually put the player in Issac’s place. And on top of all that there is the zero-gravity areas in the game where you can aim across the room and do a zero-g jump across a big room to the other side of the room. The aliens will of course be able to attack you in the zero-g areas as well, fun stuff shooting at someone in zero-g, the body parts you knock off of the aliens just float along in limbo.

But enough of the game. What about the story?

The story is reminiscent of Doom 3, now if that’s just because it’s in space and your fighting monsters or what I’m not sure but it sure does feel along the same lines. The game does very well at keeping the player tense at all times. I always expect a monster around every corner but sometimes it’s not from around a corner that the aliens pop out but from the ceiling or from the floor even through a door. There is a lot of variety involved, when you backtrack through a level (you don’t backtrack much – fyi) there may be a monster that wasn’t there before. Keeps you on your toes. The No Known Survivors website that can fill you in on most of the story.

Dead Space has one of the better perks for a game that I’ve seen in a while. That is those who purchase the game at launch will get an exclusive in-game suit. You have to visit the Xbox LIVE Marketplace within two weeks of the gameís release in order to download the Xbox or PS3-themed Elite suit. Both suits will have advantages over regular armor and it will give you more inventory slots and better protection. They look cool to boot. Overall dead space is a winner in my book the visuals are great, the game mechanics are plentiful yet not overwhelming, and story isn’t half bad. Definitely pick this one up if your into the space horror genre.

Dead Space [360] – First Impressions

We had a little Dead Space party here at Casa Buttonmasher this weekend, celebrating the arrival of Dead Space on the Xbox 360.

In preparation for a full review, Ehergeiz is currently putting it through its paces. But since my 360 is kaput, he brought his machine over here and we put a couple hours in together.

So some initial impressions: In a generation of expensive development cycles and heavy focus testing, it’s clear that Dead Space is game of very high production value. Both the graphics and sound are superb. Not to be gushing, but these are Gears of War-level graphics, but in space. The environments are creepy and eerily quiet. Tension is real and when a baddie drops in behind you, it’ll make you jump. In the dead space of space, no one can hear you wet your pants.

Erhegeiz will have to go into specifics of actual gameplay, but from what I observed, control seemed pretty intuitive and responsive.

It’s hard to be innovative and appeal to the mainstream at the same time. There’s nothing new here, but that’s not a bad thing. There are lots of little tweaks and enhancements. It’s going to be compared to games like Gears of War and Resident Evil 4 for obvious reasons. But it takes its own approach. Marcus Phoenix’s curb stomp has nothing on you dropping the big boot.


Devastating.

RE4 had a great weapons upgrade system which Dead Space apes to a certain extent, but does it its own way, giving you upgrade paths with limited resources to max everything out.

The story has been enhanced by things like the No Known Survivors website, but is mostly standard sci-fi fare. You pick up snippets of what has happened (and clearly something has happened) as you begin exploring the space station. I love the details like writing on the walls (Portal), the audio and video files you find (Bioshock) and the monsters jumping out of ventilation ducts (Doom 3). Again, there’s nothing wrong with imitation. Dead Space does it with flair.

Now I can’t wait until Ehergeiz is done with it so I can get some time with it.

In Our Hands

Thanks to EA for a copy of their Space Horror Survival Mining Simulator Dead Space. I say it’s in “our” hands, because while I am currently holding the phsyical box in my hand (that’s right, I’m typing this one-handed) Ehergeiz will be doing the actual playing and reviewing. My 360 is currently en-route to Mesquite, Texas, for some emergency surgery. I’ll hopefully have it back in house soon.

I’m planning on watching at least a bit of Ehergeiz’s initial play through and we should have some first impressions up shortly.

BANNED DEAD SPACE TRAILER!

Yeesh. Certainly not safe when kids are around. Or if you’ve recently eaten dinner.

Also, make sure to visit http://deadspace.ea.com/sweepstakes/ if you havenít already to enter to win titles such as Saw, Alien, and 12 Monkeys in their 100 Horror and Sci-fi DVD Sweepstakes, chosen by Dead Spaceís development team.