Hot on the heels of the article about Survival Horror games Iíve been playing Dead Space for review, this recently released title (today) from EA marks the beginning of a new IP for the studio and kicks off to a strong horrific start, featuring solid controls and an interesting story. Youíre cast in the role of Issac Clarke an engineer sent out to repair the USG Ishimura, a deep-space mining vessel or rather a deep-space planet cracker that literally tears a planet apart for valuable minerals.
Something goes wrong and youíre stranded aboard the Ishimura. Itís up to you to navigate the labyrinthine corridors and decks of the ship, piece together the puzzle of whatís happened and survive against a threat that seems determined to wipe you out along with the remaining survivors. Itís pitched somewhere around Resident Evil meets Event Horizon with a dash of Clive Barkerís: Hellraiser thrown in for twisted measure.
The first thing that youíll notice with Dead Space is that the game is intuitive, the controls are polished and throughout my stint with the title I havenít felt as though I was battling with the game, just the denizens of the Ishimura and the situations that arise throughout the ship. It all feels smooth, from movement to combat, you feel in control and in a game like Dead Space where you need to dismember your enemies to kill them, you need that level of finite control.
Dead Space is an immersive game and before you cry out, that youíve seen it all before. Stop and take a long look at the game itself and what it delivers for you before the words of certain Ďjadedí game reviewers take hold. Yes we might have seen it all before, yes itís been done on the PC in System Shock and so forth, however, itís done here extremely well with a great attention to detail and a lot of polish.
There is no HUD on screen in Dead Space; itís replaced by indicators on Issacís suit and weapons. Ammo counters are projected as hologram readouts, easy to see and simple to read. Your air meter only appears when itís needed in a vacuum and your life meter is a pipe on Issacís RIG (space suit) that depletes as you take damage from various sources. There is a meter that tracks how much Stasis energy you have, Stasis is useful, it slows time in a localised area and can be used to avoid fast moving broken doors or even slow a monster to let you get the drop on it.
If you get lost in Dead Space, click the right stick in and a handy nav-line will appear as a hologram displayed on the screen. It doesnít last long but it will orientate Issac towards the way he needs to go. Your inventory management is done in real time and itís wise to make sure the area is safe before you enter it, the game wonít stop to let you select a certain item or check how many free slots you have in the suit. Again this is displayed as a hologram infront of Issac, projected by his suit. You can check your map screen, your objectives and display text logs you find throughout the ship. You can also access video and audio logs here for playback if you miss an important clue.
This entire approach works to keep you immersed in the game, you never truly feel as though youíre in a video game and it starts to play out like a big budget Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster with a tense feeling and atmosphere as you unravel the fate of the Ishimura and confront nastier and nastier enemies. The game is split into fairly decent chunks of story, Chapters, which see you traverse the massive ship via the use of an internal tram system as you move from one to the other. It has a check-point system in place and makes use of liberal save stations to let you save the game roughly where you want.