Dead Space ReviewDead Space Game Review
By Mike “Mothman” Van Vuuren
The Zombiologist

Developer: EA Redwood Shores

Designers: Glen Schofield

Writers: Warren Ellis, Rick Remender, Antony Johnston

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, MS Windows

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Let me first state that by the rules of zombie definition, this is in fact a zombie game:

1.A corpse reanimated by various means either supernatural or mundane whose body continues to move despite a lack of normal biological function.
2. A living being stripped of it’s will, humanity, and normal behavior by outside forces either supernatural and mundane.

Synopsis:

You take control of some techie bloke called Isaac Clarke ( a clever, if dull combination of sci-fi writers Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke) who despite looking like the inbred result of Keiron Self and Tweety, manages to have an exceptionally attractive girlfriend called Nicole, portrayed by  Lyari Limon. Now as the tale goes, she is on board a ship called the Ishimura, surrounded by hundreds of other men, never apparently talking to Isaac all the while she is gone save for one confusing and morbid distress call months after she is gone. Yep no relationship issues there, no sir.
When the ship pulls up an obelisk called The Marker from some misbegotten planet, light years away from Earth, that was apparently put there by the government in charge of today’s world in order to repulse some alien life…or feign a religion…or some shit.

Look does anybody see the issue here?  There is no damned linear element to the story line what so bloody ever.  But what the hell, we shall push on through anyway, its not like EA ever hired any writing staff that could replicate a better result than a thousand monkeys hammering at keyboards anyway.

So after bringing the Marker back onto the ship, all bloody psychotic hell breaks loose and people start to go very Texas Chainsaw Massacre on themselves and each other, reminding me slightly of my family reunions to be honest.

After a sufficient number of loonies kill the other bunch of not so loonies, somebody has the brains to realise that all is not alright and attempts to do something about it. No, not putting the marker back where it belongs, or maybe locking off the safe part of the ship or even, god forbid, using an escape pod, they send an email to Isaac back on Earth. This causes Isaac and a handful of other whiney repair blokes to come flying to the rescue of the station, unaware of what lies within.

Obviously what DOES lie within does not lie still for very long and kills off all but three of the repair crew within two minutes of getting onboard.
From then on in its up to you to do ALL the bloody work to mend the ship and then another smaller ship and the gravity and another list of chores so long that I am surprised that I did not see “Hang up washing”,” buy milk” or “feed dog” in there.

Game play

OK, I have to give some respect to EA for finally trying something new rather than keeping with the 800 carbon copy game play styles they had before.
In Dead Space you spend the entirety of the game looking over Isaac’s right shoulder, rather like a nosey guy reading the newspaper of the guy in front of him. All menus and additional screens are provided in the form of a 3D holographic projection that displays out of some unit on your arm. Health is displayed by a blue spine like bar that runs down your back.
At first it is irritating to use, however I must admit after the initial hour or two of eye splitting head ache, it did become somewhat comfortable to use.

Some reviewers go on about the zero gravity aspect of game play, proclaiming it to be an all new ground breaking combat style and allow “terror to strike from anywhere”. I call it a further eye strain and annoyance. You get so dam disorientated that you cant even tell where you just came from half the time, let alone shoot at something that is attacking you from any one of 80 directions.
Killing your zombies, or as this game calls them “Necromorphs” (Which I thought would be a cool name for an industrial band), is fairly straight forward. You shoot them. A LOT.  Now the game informs to shoot off the limbs of your flesh hungry attackers as a faster and more ammo friendly way of killing them. What pissed me off however was the fact that the game told me this at least once a minute for the first hour and a half of gameplay.

This is the classic result of EA apparently think that all gamers are diaper wearing simpletons who could barely work out how to open the game box, let alone install it without adult supervision.
I must say that I did enjoy the vacuum element of gameplay on which you have a limited amount of oxygen in your tank to use while you are required to perform certain tasks. Be it running across a hallway with an all new gaping hole into the harsh depths of space to safety or jettisoning out large radioactive balls from the hanger in order to access a ship there…that despite conventional laws of physics is still able to burn in a vacuum?

Overall

I actually half enjoyed playing Dead Space, it did keep me playing for several hours at a go, and push on through several of the weaker mind watering migraines. Graphics were decent, not perfect but decent. The weapon upgrading system was clean cut and well made. The kinetic ability was not over pumped and the stasis ability gave fighting and puzzles a few extra elements.

Admittedly it would be easier to know what’s going on if you played the other dead space games, watched the films, read the comic, bought the beach towels and studied the 13 chapter text book. But a game should be able to support itself rather than rely on the support of its other drunken fellows as it stumbles out of the pub singing “row, row, row your boat”.

I do know that my review has been somewhat negative, however I have a slight personal grudge against a game that treats the player as an infant, uses a truly beautiful Sigur Rós song in the trailer and nowhere else, and is so half arsedly written and filled with plot holes that it is easier to burn in a vacuum than avoid them.
In total I award it three floating dismembered hands out of five.

From Zombie Carter:

Special thanks to Mike Van Vuuren for the review of “Dead Space.”  I just picked this game up prior to his review and think I’ll give it a try.