Dead Space: It’s Game Over, Man!

Back in 2008, I was very intrigued by Dead Space. After E3, the buzz going around was that it was like the evolution of Resident Evil 4. Since that game is one of my all-time favourites, Dead Space was very much on my radar. The reviews came out great and it eventually went on to sell at least enough to warrant a greatest hits re-release.

So why didn’t I pick it up back then? I don’t know, really. At the time, I know I was busy with Rock Band 2, Gears of War 2 and Left 4 Dead. After I was through with those games, I would always look at that box every time I went into a game store, but never acted on it. I even saw this game brand new for $10 and still didn’t buy it. For whatever reason, I just kept passing it up.

That is, until this past Christmas break. Using a gift card I received, I picked up Dead Space…and let it sit on my shelf for two months while I played through Modern Warfare 2, Assassin’s Creed 2, Lego Rock Band, The Lost and Damned, Borderlands and Silent Hill: Homecoming.

I’m only about half way through chapter 1, but dude…Dead Space is kind of rocking my socks. For the few of you who aren’t familiar with this game, I’ll give you a quick rundown. You are an engineer who has been assigned to fix this giant space station. You and your crew crash land on the space station, and quickly realize there are aliens on it. In terms of tone, mood and atmosphere, this game is very much like the movie Aliens.

What the game is currently lacking in innovation, it makes up for in polish. Even in 2010, Dead Space graphically is one of the best games out there. Audio wise, my goodness. It has some of the most amazing sound of any video game. The ambient sound really sets the tone of the game and does a great job of freaking you out to the point where you’re not sure if those creepy noises are coming from the game, or something in the other room of your house. Leading up to the release, EA was hyping up how the game doesn’t have a heads-up display in the traditional game sense. Instead, information such as your health and amount of ammo in your clip are displayed on the character himself and all menus are pulled up within an in-game floating “screen” that you can look around. This is supposed to keep you immersed in the game, but I would have been fine with a regular HUD. Nice touch nonetheless.

In terms of the horror elements of Dead Space, it’s about on par at this point with Resident Evil 4. The “horror” you feel mainly comes from jump scares and the tension you feel when your character is physically threatened, which is a lot. If you’re looking for a more psychological horror experience along the lines of Silent Hill though, then this isn’t it.

The one thing that has me tripping up at this point are the controls. Granted, I’ve played this game for less than two hours at this point, but some elements of the layout and how they work are taking some time to adjust to. For instance, when you’re not aiming your gun, the right stick acts as an independent camera control rather than controlling where your character is looking. What this means is, you can swing the camera around so that you’re actually looking at the front of your character. It’s weird when I try and look around from the perspective of my character using the stick and instead it moves the camera independent of the character. I’m also not a fan of left bumper acting as the run button. Having that handled by pushing in the left stick would work much better in my opinion.

There is still a lot of time for this game to get better (or worse), so I will reserve final judgment until I’m finished with it. I look forward to seeing how this plays out, because it’s off to a great start.

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