Dead Space Review
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Dead Space is a thrilling scarefest filled with nightmarish creatures, gory detail, and the ability to make any gamer wish it was the daytime. Redwood Shores has delivered a truly must-buy title during a month of standout releases.
- Unique gameplay experience
- Stunning visual design
- Limb by limb dismemberment
- Replayability is crippled by inventory loss during difficulty switch
- Overpowered boot stomp
- Backtracking may bother some gamers
(continued from previous page) ...limbs from the start.
A very unique aspect to Dead Space is the complete lack of a visible HUD (heads up display). Redwood Shores chose to take a different route in order to display vital information to the player. In line with the futuristic tone of the game, players can view their life and air supply on the back of their body suits, and track their ammunition count on a display above each weapon. Additionally, your inventory opens up in real time via a holographic representation. This helps keep players immersed within the atmosphere because a Necromorph can attack at any given time. Much like in BioShock, the ship is littered with audio messages that detail things that have happened on the Ishimura. There are also messages written across the walls in blood, and notes Isaac keeps in a personal journal as well. All of these features help submerge gamers into the harsh world of Dead Space, something that isn’t always easy to achieve in the gaming industry.
Dead Space, unfortunately, isn’t without its problems. The navigation system sometimes tells the player to move forward and then backwards for no apparent reason. On the other hand, certain players may not like the chore of having to continually backtrack in order to complete objectives. While it makes absolute sense that you may have to search for a circuit board in a different part of the ship, sometimes the backtracking makes the Ishimura feel smaller than it actually is. Outside of these small quips, the only real technical issue seems to be the ability to stomp things with your boot that are out of reach.
An issue that isn’t relevant to the actual gameplay and more of a crippling effect on the game's replay value is the way Redwood decided to set up the second playthrough functionality. While it’s awesome that you can replay the title with the same inventory as your original adventure through the Ishimura, it’s ridiculous that you must do so at the same difficulty level to retain that inventory. Considering you're unable to max out everything on your original trip through the game, you'd think that Dead Space would allow you to progress Isaac Clark through tougher difficulties while still maintaining the possibility to maximize your inventory. This is a problem because it is hardly challenging to complete the game on the same difficulty setting when you already have a near-maxed out character. I feel they dropped the bomb with this decision and have truly crippled an offline-only experience by removing some of the potential incentive to play through the title once more.
Though Dead Space may be compared to BioShock in a stylistic sense, it’s in a league of its own when it comes to visuals. The developers have done a fantastic job of intricately detailing each segment of the Ishimura to be a tad creepier than the last. Whether you’re looking at the blood trails on the floor or the compartments that have had human remains literally strained through them, Dead Space is a sensory marvel that wholly engulfs you within its world. Furthermore, none of the chapters in the story ever feel like the last; each has a sense of individuality because of the careful design each section received. Isaac’s interaction with holographic messages are also visually believable because of the way you see him shaking his head and acknowledging what is being said. The character models are realistic enough to authenticate the experience, and the subtleties of your surroundings are only amplified by the audio provided.
You can tell the cast of actors in charge of each character’s voiceover cared about their role in the game, as the dialog is extremely impressive. That awkward feeling of forced conversation never arrives to cripple the flow of the title. When you combine this rare feat with the various sound effects of the weapons and the ship, you find yourself utterly entranced, ready to be frightened by whatever lies ahead.
EA’s Dead Space delivers in every conceivable way. Hop on board and see space like never before: dead.
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