Right from the start of the game you’ll see that EA’s Redwood are going for an ultra realistic, ultra scary and the ultimate adrenaline rush that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. While the Survival Horror Genre market is quite full, no game does it as well as Dead Space.
“You’d think with a thousand people on board someone would pick up the phone”
You’ll assume the command of Isaac Clarke an engineer sent to a mining ship known as the USG Ishimura. After communications with the ship go dark, its up to you and a small unit to find out what’s going on and to fix it. However, things don’t go to plan as they rarely do, and when you crash land on to the darkened runway strip, you’ll soon wish you became a plumber and not an engineer. As you soon become aware that you are not alone and that the ship has been infested with crazed Necromorphs lurking around each and every corner. Before you even land on the Ishimura you’ll find that Isaac isn’t just here to find out what’s inhabited on this ship, but to find a loved one.
The story in Dead Space moves with great pace as the majority of the game takes place without any cut-scenes keeping you fully immersed with intelligent holographic videos, high quality Audio Logs and well written Text Logs, thanks to Dead Space having no HUD (Heads-Up-Display). You’ll be able to check how much ammo you have left by aiming your rifle and your health gauge is located on the spine of your RIG which can easily be medicated by pressing (X).
You’ll have a ton of weapons at your disposal from Plasma Cutters to Flamethrowers which come in handy when you encounter creepy Necromorphs who have only one intention and that’s to make you suffer. Each weapon has a tactical advantage over the alien life-forms aboard the Isimura, for example a Flamethrower will exterminate recently born Necromorphs easier than a Plasma Cutter.
In most Horror titles you’ll be outnumbered hugely by flesh-eating zombies who bite the curb with one bullet to the face. Dead Space uses a whole new concept of dismemberment by shooting the limbs off an enemy which you’ll either be able to slow them down with a well placed bullet to the leg, stop them from using their sharp claws and or kill them. I also tend to stomp on their heads after their down… well, you never know, right?
You can also upgrade all the weapons in the game by collecting power-nodes, you’ll then need to find a BENCH to put down your weapons and work on your gun by increasing its Damage, Reload Speed, Ammo capacity and much more. Each weapon also has an alternative firing mode, by pressing RB it’ll give you the chance to use the weapons secondary fire, such as the Ripper, a powerful saw blade which can be thrown at speed to slice and dice through the enemies’ strong exterior and hopefully bloody interior.
To accompany the weapons in the game you’ll also be able to use Stasis which gives you the ability to slow time down, which will gain you an advantage when the Necromorphs are out in force by either stopping them to run past or to take that extra split second to dismember a limb. You’ll also be able to use Kinesis, which is a lot like the Gravity Gun in Half-Life 2, which will give you the opportunity to pick up and throw lethal objects such as Gas Canisters which will see arms and legs explode in a blaze of glory. Even though this is gory, it’s very satisfying.
Kinesis and Stasis are also used in the puzzle solving moments in Dead Space which will require you to move rather large items from one place to another, or to slow down broken doors which will do some serious damage. While the ‘puzzles’ are limited and often don’t require any brain cells to figure out, it’s a neat feature which adds extra depth to an already fantastic single-player title.
The Visual’s in Dead Space are just breathtakingly beautiful from the asteroids falling from Outer Space to blood squirting from the spinal cord of an enemy whom has recently lost his head. Dead Space really reeks of Next-Generation quality which is unrivalled on any platform.
The sound in Dead Space is also fantastic; too many times I’ve found myself spinning around in circles wondering where the screams of angry Nercomorphs are coming from or the smash of glass as they fling themselves towards you at hurtling speeds to catch you by surprise. It works. Unfortunately in games, when the graphics are good the sound is terrible and vice versa, luckily for us, EA Games’ have delivered in both realms to create one of the most intense games in a very long time.
As in most games in this genre you’ll have a weapons dealer who comes out of nowhere who will sell you the latest and greatest items. In Dead Space you’ll have to acquire Schematic’s which will then give you the chance to visit stores located throughout the spaceship where you can download new weapons and use all the credit’s you’ve obtained during the campaign. While the store does sell ammo and RIG updates (which we’ll cover in just a second) you’ll find that you can gain a lot of ammo and health packs from confrontation with the enemy and exploration around the ship. You’ll also be able to store items in the Stores Safe for when times get hard and you need that extra pack of Plasma rounds.
In Dead Space you will only be able to carry a maximum weight of items, You will however be able to upgrade your RIG which is your well built body armour which comes in handy from time to time. There are five levels to your suit, which you can upgrade by collecting Power Nodes from locker-rooms and well placed Supply Containers – (Remember to check for the CEC seal of Certification before breaking) by doing this you’ll be able to increase your Air gauge, the ability to carry more inventory, and increased armour. EA Games’ are also giving away Free ELITE armour via Microsoft’s Xbox Live Service, which you can download for a limited time only, giving you the Xbox 360 colours and largely increased RIG stats to save upgrading!
A lot of concern before Dead Space’s arrival was surrounding its controls, well I’m very happy to say that the controls in this futuristic title are brilliant and compliment the Xbox 360 Controller perfectly. You’ll be able to do flick between weapons with ease, change to secondary firing modes, and keep on top of your current tasks with little to no learning curve. If you’re the type of person that can get lost easily, don’t sweat it as anytime during the campaign you can press down on the Right Analogue Stick which will display a glowing path.
We’ve all watched Apollo 13 and wished we could float in Zero-Gravity well in Dead Space you can. This will allow you to jump from wall to wall, which can be very daunting and confusing at first but once you figure out how it works, it becomes second nature, you’ll just have to get used to seeing human limbs floating around. You’ll also come across area’s which will make Oxygen limited and have to navigate your way through sections of the ship before your RIG runs out of air.
For all you achievement whores out there, you’ll be glad to hear that you will be able to achieve all 48 achievements from just playing through the main story giving you the maximum 1,000 points. The only thing standing in your way is the hordes of demented and crazed beasts.
Unfortunately Dead Space is lacking any sort of online multi-player game-modes which in a way isn’t that much of a disappointment as the Single-Player while short with around 10-15 hours of gameplay, is incredibly detailed and will keep you coming back for more!
In closing, Dead Space is a fantastic addition to the Survival Horror Genre with its fantastic graphics, immense sound, and amazingly detailed story, Dead Space isn’t being blown out of orbit just yet and with talks of Dead Space 2, the only way from here, is Outer Space!