Dead Space: In Retrospect (aka a reveiw, with some wit involved!)
Alright so I picked up Dead Space over a "fall break" that my school decided to have. None the less, Dead Space released Tuesday of the week that I had off, so more power to me. So enough about my personal life, lets get to the juicy dismemberment! Now starting this game off right, I headed over to a good old friends house that had 5.1 surround sound, and a high-definition wide-screen Television. So we sat down on our favorite couch, poped in Dead Space, turned the lights off IN THE ENTIRE HOUSE and proceeded to turn the volume on said sound-system up.
Absolute terror can be FELT by that system in the first place, and Dead Space's in-game sound system is AMAZING. For every sound, there is a cause. With the possible exception of the violin screeches and other "scary music sounds" emiting when a baddie poped out unexpectedly. So the introduction starts all calm, (well except the fact that you already know that Dead Space is a survival horror game) and then, almost out of nowhere, the shit hits the fan.. multiple times. You find yourself running down a hallway at full-speed because the space zombies (necromorphs as you later learn) are on your ass, wanting to chew your face off! Unarmed and helpless, you sit in an elevator of "relative" safety. So some more shit happens, scares the pants offa you, and now its time to get some new under garments!
Perhaps a few moments after your first encounter, you get your first weapon, and a nice "blood-writing" (perhaps someone stole all the sharpies, because the blood writings are excessive) stateing "CUT OFF THEIR LIMBS!". So woo-hoo you have a gun, ya walk through a door and- BAM! ZOMBIE EATING A PERSON! So ya shoot the zombie, fetch another pair of under garments, and away you go! So the game starts really scary, atleast until you realize the potential in the "Starship Trooper Rifle" as I call it, or the "Pulse Rifle" as the game calls it. With the Pulse rifle, and "Contact Beam" (AKA the BFG, Dead-Space edition) you plow through, mow down, and eviserate your foes with IMPUNITY. Soon, and I'm not sure if the creaters were wanting this, you begin to enjoy cutting the limbs off of foes... or maybe it's my brain overloading from the awesome.
In short, Dead Space is brilliant, and despite many games being created with graphics of "good" levels, Dead Space manages to TOP most game engines as far as the Xbox 360 is concerned. Minus the fact that (odds are anyway) it's probably built offa the UT3 engine, the Dead Space engine is surprisingly clean and detailed for an xbox title. What the Dead Space engine lacks is the "texture popping" of the UT3 Engine, and the horrible tendency to be a bad game when created off of the UT3 engine. So simply put, the engine is clean, looks good, and runs well.
Moveing on, lets talk about GAMEPLAY. For a survival horror game, the controls fit as well as Master-cheif's glove (spell check is not existant on notepad btw, so if I spelt MC wrong, buy me a copy of MS office XD). Combat is centered around dismemberment, which works well in this title, given that you're not pumping rounds of ammunition into someone's chest cavity. Enemys can be taken down intelegently and quickly, but this takes time and practice to polish and shine. Occasionally (see Dead Space Brutes.. google that actually and look for a youtube vid of fighting one on INSANE without stasis) the player will not have the time to line up a shot, so when being SWARMED by enemies, the player gets a little bit fucked, given there are only 2 of the 7 weapons that are effective crowd-control. Some mechanics are clunky and require work (see melee attacks) but then again, if you're being chased by zombies, are you gonna shoot them with your gun, or slap them across the face till they die? Secondly, some enemies WILL drop you at the drop of a hat if you're not quick on your toes. For instance, there are these wall tenticle things that grab you and drag you down a hallway that leads to a hole, and if you don't shoot the glowing thing fast enough, you get drug into said hole, and DIE. Other instances are of "Amebic blobs" IE the little chunks of flesh that jump on you, and if you don't MASH the "A" button enough, you die of... being jumped on by blobs? A little grey area in that area, but hey, atleast the button mashing is PART of the game, rather than being arbitrarily thrown in for now good reason.
Item time! So the game consists mainly of bullets and med-kits, some key items, and "logs" (mini-diaries, anyone who played Doom 3 knows the PDA mess). So the weaponry is rather standard (if you've played atleast Resident Evil once, you should know what to expect mainly) but limited. Of the 7 weapons, I found 4 to be usefull GODCANNONS and 3 peices of shit that cost credits and have achievments linked to them! So some of the weapons SEEM like a good idea, like say the FLAMETHROWER. "Well LETS BURN THEM SO THEY CANT EXIST!" says I, I proceed to start burning.. and failure comes smashing down like a bridge worker who miss-stepped while trying to get down from the ledge to fetch his tools. Because the game is all about LIMB DISMEMBERMENT, the flame thrower is a little out of place. In addition, it isn't useable in Vaccumes because there's no oxygen in SPACE. So the game dev's thought about that atleast, but damn does it piss you off when your like "imma light you on FIRE!" *click* "OH FUCK!" *gets om-nomed by zombies*. Lastly, there are two items that run into the gameplay: Kinesis and Stasis. Kinesis lifts and throws objects that are not living (IE boxes, crates, fusion cores, corpses)
an Stasis slows objects and enemies (so when you have a timing puzzle, stasis makes it easy as DEUCE).
Curves! Difficulty levels vary as the game progresses. With a big section of the game baised on pushing buttons and cutting off limbs, the puzzles, time trial sequences, and occasional shooting-gallery sequence mixed in various amounts, the game spirals out of control as far as difficulty level can be concerned. So in understanding that there is VARIETY in Dead Space, it seems a little easy through most of the game. With the exceptions of the ADS (asteroid defence system) levels, the game's puzzles, combat sequences, and boss fights play out quick and easy. As stated earlyer, the ADS levels kick my ass. It seems a little difficult when a game is paced for slow-survival-horror-shoot-eventually gameplay, and then suddenly the look sensitivity goes WAAAAAAY up, and suddenly you've two green tracers that signify your aim, and its time to shoot small asteroids that aren't too visible on a normal TV unless you're 12 centimeters away from the screen.
Finally: the overall preformance. If you're looking for a lengthy, feel-good zombie shoot-'em-up, Dead Space is for you! The general combat has it's quirks, and the story keeps shifting away from predictable (and then goes back towards it), and some of the items and sections seem out of place, but overall Dead Space is great fun! When you have the system, it can scare you, but if you don't, I hope you scare easily if you want the full effect. There is fatigue in this game (as in you play it too much it gets old fast), so playing in 3 hour bursts is the most effective method. Running through in about 9 hours, 47 minutes, and 58 seconds as my first play-length, Dead Space isn't nearly as LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG as Resident Evil 4 (as many have drawn that as the line of comparison), but atleast it doesn't get horribly boring. If you want some gruesome dismemberment, with some storyline and mediocre puzzleing on the side, Dead Space will deliver. Now, this game is good to play in the Dark, on a 5.1 surround sound system, I just don't have that readily available in my regular situation, so the parts I saw on the epic rig kinda kept with me. When playing at 3 in the afternoon, with some slipknot in the backround, with a 22 inch TV with only STEREO speakers, the game looses the majority of its punch. The graphics occasionally have a little bug with certian types of enemies (IE the corpse-reanimateing baddies, but I don't think the game dev's coulda done much better) where limbs clip into unseen places. Its a nice shoot-'em-up, with some survival horror attatched on the side, and when you play it like I do, it's not scary, but rather very entertaining!