Re: [C.G.A] Casual Gaming Association: Simply Amazing
By: Redwood Shores/EA
System: PS3, 360, PC
It's a testament of a game's quality when I go into writing a review about it with pages worth of praise, but don't know where to start. Dead Space is a new IP from Redwood Shores, a team within EA, and takes Survival Horror into the dangerously overdone reaches of Sci-Fi. And the end product of these unlikely conditions is incredible.
Dead Space is told from the perspective of Isaac Clarke, an engineer sent with a small team to the USG Ishimura to repair it. It is the best planet-cracker around, and the purpose of planet-crackers is to crack open uninhabited planets and harvest it's resources for Earth, which in this future is running low on them. By "told", I mean you tell the story in the way that you have complete control at all times; Dead Space achieves what Assassin's Creed attempted to do by immersing you in the story by never taking away your control - save for the introduction and finale, everything is told during gameplay with the use of video, audio, and text logs, and though there are times when someone will be speaking to you in person, you still have control of Isaac, and it's almost completely successful except for one small fault: there are no cutscenes to skip during repeated playthroughs, though this small issue is quickly corrected with the narrative being consistently gripping and the amount of story to soak up would have you watching even if there were skippable cutscenes. And this isn't even mentioning the star-quality voice acting and and terrific script, as well as the unnerving ambient sounds; and when music does make an appearance (though rarely), it's epic and serves to highlight the scale of Dead Space's universe. Oh yeah, and from start to finish, it's tense and terrifying.
So, it could easily be a movie, but it's not, and the major separating factor here is gameplay, and it's superb. Dead Space is a 3rd-person shooter Survival Horror title, so if you've ever played Resident Evil 4 or the many games influenced by it's control scheme like Gears Of War, Uncharted, or darkSectOr, you know what to expect. Default movement is walking, and running is done by holding L2. While this may seem annoying on paper, it's a smart decision, as you often will creep down corridors holding L1 to aim, always cautious of the creatures that can and will take you by surprise. Standard shooting is done with R1, and alternate fire is done with R2. There's not much else to say with the control except that it's tight, fluid, and responsive just as you'd expect.
And thank god it is, because Dead Space packs a punch. The core gameplay mechanic is tagged by the developers as "Strategic Dismemberment", and I couldn't have put it better myself. Simply, you've gotta cut their limbs off if you want to quickly and ammo-efficiently kill them. It adds an important layer of strategy that almost every shooter lacks, and it's quite refreshing and rewarding to not soak your enemies in gunfire. Because of this, the combat never gets dull and always keeps you on your toes. Dead Space is possibly the goriest game ever made, and the fact that the gore is visceral and satisfying and actually matters to succeed is a testament of Dead Space's genius and success.
To help with the mass severing of limbs, a nicely fleshed-out store and upgrade system adds some well-placed RPG depth to the package. You find credits throughout the game just as you would ammo or health/Stasis packs, and you can purchase new weapons, more powerful suits, ammo, and health from the store. Of course, this isn't ready for you from the start; you have to find Schematics, which add items to the store for you to purchase. Along with this you can find Nodes or purchase them from the store, which you use to upgrade your weapons and equipment in a similar fashion to Final Fantasy X and Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools Of Destruction.
Dead Space features Trophy support right on the disc on PS3 and after completion, you can start again on the same difficulty with all your equipment from your previous playthrough, which is not only fun and empowering but is necessary for Trophy completion. There is a 4th difficulty to be unlocked and there is a concept art slideshow too. There is also DLC already available on the PSN and XBL in the form of new suits, one for $2.49, the other free for the first two weeks after release. These suits are Level 5 suits, and will definitely help you out by giving you added armor and item slots. However, once you use them, you cannot go back to your lower-level suits, but then again they wouldn't have released them right off the bat if they didn't want them to be used. Extra suits or items or even story expansions with new Trophies through DLC would be nice, and not too unlikely seeing that the devs already show DLC support. Besides this, the real replay in Dead Space is the depth of the combat, story, and mythology, and the gameplay alone will have you coming back for more than one replay.
And all this gameplay is displayed with some topnotch visuals. Everything is here - smooth animation, sharp and detailed textures, solid framerate that barely stutters, fantastic lighting, and inspired design - and there are some absolutely epic sights and moments that will have you in awe, and as to not spoil them, I will just say that you'll know them when you see them, though they are so memorable that I could easily recap them with joy. Dead Space is a beautiful game, with some amazing tech and great art direction, and it's as much of a pleasure to look at as it is to play.
I feel somehow that I haven't summarize Dead Space properly, and perhaps that's because it can't be summarized. Dead Space is an amazing, immersive experience, and it refines the 3rd-person shooter gameplay while setting the new standard for Survival Horror. I am hard-pressed to find faults here; the camera can be somewhat disorienting during a landing of a zero-gravity jump, the melee attacks aren't always accurate, and there is back-tracking, though it never feels like a chore and it logically connects everything, making the Ishimura feel like a cohesive ship and not just a group of ship-styled locations, so the back-tracking is much more a positive than a negative, and although it can be repetitive, there are enough surprises and scares to make it feel fresh; to put it simply, it's the best use of back-tracking in any recent game, but still back-tracking nonetheless and has no effect on the overall experience.
Dead Space is simply remarkable, and it being a new IP from EA is not only impressive, it all but guarantees a sequel, and I wouldn't be surprised if it takes off as a franchise. As it stands now, Dead Space is an amazing experience and everyone owes it to themselves to pick it up. Don't miss it.
Story: 9.8 / 10
Gameplay: 9.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.3 / 10
Sound: 10 / 10
Replay: 9.0 / 10
Overall: 9.6 / 10
Last edited by The Maple Syrup Baptist; 05-24-2009 at 06:19 AM.