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Dead Space Review 2

Dead Space Review 2

Reviews - Xbox 360

(3 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)

Review written by Shade360 - [Moderator] Xbox.com

The plot

Set many hundreds of years into the future Dead Space, the new survival horror game for EA Redwood Shores, it’s a time in which the earth has run out of all of it’s own resources. To stop the human race from dying out completely companies were formed to find these much needed supplies, and the only place left to find these minerals and metals, is in deep space,  rather than use old time mining,  they do it by ripping planets apart and mining the remaining chunks of ex planet. This is were the USG Ishimura fits in, which will be your new home for the length of the game, it is nick named a ‘planet cracker.

Before the planet crack can be‘cracked’ a small team of miners are sent to the planet in advance of the ships arrival to prepare the planet, and to see if they find life signs, normally there’s nothing of note on these dead planets. But this time… both the mining team on the planet and the crew of the USG Ishimura fail to report in, and a repair crew is sent to investigate the communications blackout.

If you want an insight as to just what happens on the planet, and what was found - watching the Dead Space Animated comics on the Xbox Market Place, will fill you in on the details, and believe me, they are well worth a watch.

When you first start the game - you play the part of Isaac Clarke, just a normal run of the mill Engineer, on a repair mission, simply there to repair a radio array and a few lights… turns out you also hope  meet up with your girlfriend Nicole who was a crew member on the USG Ishimura. You have with you a small team including  Kendra Daniels, a technology expert and Zach Hammond, the senior security officer.

After coming out of hyper-space you find the planet has already been ‘Cracked’ -  and the USG Ishimura is running dark - no signs of lights or life, apart from a few garbled radio messages, after you finally make it on board you find there is something much worse than a few faulty lights.

It appears that when the planet was ‘Cracked’ something got loose.. Some kind of Alien virus capable of re-animating dead tissue.. And these are the Nero-Morphs you will come into very close contact with onboard the USG Ishimura.

Gameplay

From the outset it’s familiar territory for anyone who has played the Resident Evil series, more so  number 4, the over the shoulder view point works well for this type of game, making aiming and more importantly running easy to do in the confines of the mining ship.

You main duties in the game are to repair and restart the various ship systems, some are easy - just flicking a switch will do it, others have simple puzzles to solve and all are to try and get the USG Ishimura back online and get home in one piece. This along with the combat is the core of the game, and as such does get a little predicable, since you know if you fix one system, something else will brake - but you are an engineer, so like Bob the Builder in space - you have to fix it!

There's also a lot of backtracking through the same areas,  however these do look slightly different depending on when you do it, and new hazards can and do get placed in your way. Both lack of Air and Zero-G in certain areas not only add to the urgency but also add some mini puzzles into the game, the lack of air can be combated  either by using a can of air, either found or brought from the store, or using Air recharge points that are scattered in some areas. The Zero-G areas are great fun to navigate and add new gameplay dynamics to the normal steady walking, or running found in other areas of the game.

The Necro-Morphs, which you will have to fight from the outset of the game come in many shapes and sizes and all have one thing in common, they all want you dead. To stop this from happening, you will need to ‘kill’ them first, I say kill, but since they are already dead, seems a little confusing… you can either waste ammo by simply shooting them repeatedly or  by using the games ’Strategic Dismemberment’ system - which is a more effective way of dealing with them, you can  remove various limbs and appendages’ to stop them in their tracks, but don’t think that just cutting their legs off will stop them, it wont.  They also have a nack of using the ships ventilation duct system to great effect, darting into to one in front of you, only to re-appear sometime later when you least expect it.

To help combat these monsters you have the tools of the trade, be that a simple curb stomp move, melee or choosing from a range of simple, yet effective tools, plasma cutter - to force guns, and even a few military weapons,  like the pulse rifle and flame thrower

Weapons are not picked up, apart from the starting tool the plasma cutter, you buy weapons from the stores that are scattered around the ship, after finding the schematic for it first, so you can’t simply buy the most powerful weapons, you have to find the schematic as well. The weapons / tools and your suit can all be upgraded - but only a ‘benches’ - work stationed in certain areas on the ships levels, you also need to  find the upgrade nodes to action the upgrades.. So the hunt for those should be a major concern.

You will also get a few ’tricks of the trade’ as you progress though the first few levels - Stasis which will allow you to freeze items in space and time, also works very well on the Nero-Morphs allowing you to pick the part of it you wish to remove but it does have a limited amount of ’ammo’, which has to be carefully monitored. The other ability is Kinetic which allows you to pick up items and move them from a distance, Kinetic also doubles as puzzle solver and a weapon, since you can pick up items and fire them at the approaching monsters.

Ammo, money and first aid kits are either in glowing crates, boxes, and lockers or dropped by defeated Nerco-Morphs, since as you will find out from the various audio logs and video logs scattered about, the Necro-Morphs are what is left of the crew.  Ammo does get a little shot in supply depending how far into the game you get.

Save points are also scattered about the ship and levels, and thankfully these allow you to save as often as you like, something you will learn to do on the later levels is save, and save often!

Replay value could be a sticking point for some, the AI is very good and they never react the same, but since the puzzles remain the same, but the hunt for audio logs and upgrades could push you back into the game. One point to note, you can’t restart the game on a different difficulty level from the one you complete it in, and keep your weapons and upgrades. This is the only disappointment.

Graphics


Right from the introduction, the graphics are up to the high standards already set by other games, such as Bioshock, and in some respects they are similar, but are also original at the same time. There’s a realness to the places and items you find and see, they are all built with outstanding attention to detail, from drinks cans to logos on dead crew members jackets, everything is there for a reason.

The over all design for the ship has it’s roots in gothic design, and also has hints of HR Geiger,  famous for the Alien Designs, and as such, the ship takes on it’s own personality one which is just as eerie and unsettling as the Nero-Morphs.

There are also some very nice lighting effects, and strobes along with steam and haze effects in the many corridors and room that the game take place in, and  these remind you to keep checking the corners and vents for monsters. There are several moments that are really visually outstanding, and you do get a few seconds to take them in, before the action starts up again in earnest.

Speaking of monsters - the Necro - Morphs come in many types, and all are very well rendered, from the smaller ones to the largest, they all have a slimly look to them, and you can tell that some of these things were once the crew. You will catch sight of a human eye, as it comes racing towards you, but you still have to deal with them. When you dismember one, there’s a very graphic display of blood and gloop - and you will also catch sight of squirming tentacles from the wound, which shows there’s some thing inside driving them on. The animation on the creatures, is well done and to see them try and crawl there way towards you after you have removed their legs is quite amusing the first few time, after that - you learn to quickly finish them off.

Any pick up you find or stumble across will flash up on screen showing off the Hologram in game displays - this is a great addition to the game, since all the menus, video displays, maps, and even your ammo count hang in mid air in front of you,  and you still have complete control of the game,  so can still make a run for it at anytime!

The first time you rotate the camera and see the back of the menu system, or incoming video transmission you will wonder why it has took so long to integrate such a system, but that is yet another game play element that makes Dead Space unique.
 
Sound

Voice acting in this game are of a very high standard, even if the players character, has a lot in common with Gordon Freeman, in that he remains mute for the game, the other people you stumble across and the audio logs are also very well done, adding to the whole experience.

The musical sound track to this game is really hard to describe, it does have music, but the environmental sounds, and other effects mix into a sound scape that’s completely original and eerie to say the least.

It uses the best Hollywood scare tricks from the outset, from jets of steam to disembodied whispers, the overall effect is never less than disturbing especially when you then mix in the sounds of the Necro-morphs and the tell tale audio ‘stings’ used to jar your senses when one attacks, the over all sound is quite similar to the TV series Lost - but not a direct copy. There is off key strings, screams and voices, which all mix into an outstanding sound track.

Weapons have a solid sound to them, the reload sounds also have a nice cluck to them and you always feel satisfied letting a few rounds off into a Necro-Morph and hearing them scream in pain, and death gurgle.

This is one game you need to turn the 5.1 up and enjoy it.

Final thoughts

I was expecting a great looking, scary game, and Dead Space delivered.  It’s hard for a new series to get a foot hold, after the classic RE series etc, but EA have done it.

It plays well, looks great and has amazingly atmospheric sounds and music. The only downside to me is the lack of any co-op or online play, and the fact you can’t play the game again on a higher difficulty level and keep your inventory.

The game as a whole plays like a mix of resident evil 4 meets doom 3 with hints of classic sci-fi horror films like the Alien series, in fact the fist time you hear the female computers voice, you get an uneasy sense of familiarity. The fixing the ship plot can seem a little mundane, but the journey is so exciting.

From the first level to the last - the plot expands with cut scenes and audio logs into a very moving one, and one that I hope continues. The scares come fast and strong, even if you think your not easily scared, I would suggest you at least rent this game.



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