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
There used to be a time when the survival horror meant solely Silent Hill and Resident Evil. Lately, there are more original properties, like the mind-boggling BioShock or the gruesome Condemned, sprouting up within the genre. Now EA has pushed itself into view with EA Redwood Shores’ inaugural leap into survival horror, Dead Space. Referred to on more than one occasion as “BioShock in space,” Dead Space brings gamers hundreds of years into the future to board the USG Ishimura, a planet-cracking ship that lost all contact with human life.
Sadly, the mining of other planets is a necessity for the human race as we have exhausted all of our natural resources. Considering the ramifications of this situation, fleets of vessels are scattered throughout the universe in order to transport these resources back to Earth for consumption. The USG Ishimura is mankind’s most glorified planet-cracker, as it has mined more planets than any other interplanetary vessel. Oddly enough, the USG Ishimura loses all contact with galactic command during a standard planet-cracking operation. In order to find out what’s happened, a maintenance crew is dispatched from a nearby vessel.
As expected, you’re a part of this maintenance crew. Gamers step into the boots of Isaac Clark, a quiet systems engineer that has a very cliché interest in the Ishimura – his lady friend is on board. The last contact Clark had with her was via an urgent holovid (holographic video) which was filled with cryptic messages. Upon reaching the Ishimura, Isaac and his fellow crewmates quickly become separated, and all hell proceeds to break loose. The maintenance vessel is destroyed, and most of the crew is violently murdered by abominations known as Necromorphs (space zombies).
With the Ishimura’s computer systems failing due to the Necromorphs, and the disadvantage of being nothing more than a systems engineer, gamers must make do with whatever weapons or tools they find lying around in order to survive. Isaac can also create weapons of his own, provided he can find the schematics necessary to build them. It is through this process that you acquire the bulk of your weaponry. Scattered throughout the ship are schematics for weapons – like the flamethrower – that you can create using work stations. These work stations also give you the ability to utilize power nodes that you may have found during play. These power nodes function similarly to the “Sphere Grid” in Final Fantasy X; they’re small nodes that fit into a “power grid” that will upgrade Isaac's weapons, health, air support, reload times and even ammunition amount.
The nodes usage goes beyond the standard weapon and player upgrades, as you can use them to power up your stasis and kinesis modules as well. The stasis module allows gamers to (somewhat) slow down time in order to get through areas of the ship that would otherwise be death traps. One instance where this comes in handy is when a faulty door keeps yanking open then slamming shut. Utilizing the stasis module in this situation causes the door’s movement to diminish, allowing Isaac to run through safely. Meanwhile, the kinesis module gives you the chance to pick items up with your mind and throw them out of the way or turn them into thrown weapons. This is useful when you come across a hallway that may be blocked by some foreign object that you must remove in order to progress. Redwood Shores has created a title in which almost anything can be upgraded to the player’s content. This allows for a unique experience and most will have to play through the game several times if they hope to max out each possible item.
The deformed Necromorphs are susceptible to particular types of weapons. This is important to remember when upgrading your weapons, partly because enemies won’t be incapacitated in the usual manner (headshots). Most Necromorphs force you to dismember them limb by limb. As the game progresses, the Necromorphs become increasingly faster, leaving you less time to accurately dissect their constantly shifting forms. This will inevitably lead to several deaths by way of dismemberment for Isaac, so make sure to always think ahead and aim for those weak limbs from the ... (continued on next page)
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