I really like survival horror games so I’ve been looking forward to playing Dead Space. Now I’ve finally got my hands on it and yes, it’s pretty tense stuff. The game’s set in the future where Earth now gets its resources from a process called planet cracking. Big ships are sent to mine planets and use all the minerals back on Earth to make all sorts of cool stuff.
One of these big ships has gone dark, so your crew including Isaac the engineer go to investigate. Of course they soon get stranded on this ghostly ship and all hell breaks loose around them.
Straight away you’ll draw comparisons with the films Event Horizon and The Thing. The ship itself has an unsettling character all of its own and the strange creatures that attack you come straight out of John Carpenter’s classic. However, if you’re used to taking down enemies with head shots, you’ll have to learn to adapt to the dismemberment tactics of this game. Aim for the arms and the legs to get a quick kill and save ammo, otherwise you’ll use far more of the stuff if going for the body or the head. If you get too trigger happy you’ll just have to run away or stomp the creatures into the ground.
Apart from the pulse rifle, all your other weapons come from the mining ship itself. Plasma cutters, flame throwers and buzz-saw blades are on the agenda here and they all make a mess. You can also upgrade your weapons and your space suit with a bit of jiggery-pokery at workshop benches scattered about the ship.
Two things make Dead Space better than a standard survival horror. First of all, the control system borrows straight from Resident Evil 4 and we all know how well that system worked. On top of that is the fantastic atmosphere created by both lighting and sounds. Ship lights, smoke and fog all make things rather creepy and when you go into areas of zero gravity or vacuums, the sound deadens suitably as I guess it would if you were running about in a space suit. Isaac’s heavy breathing and energy bar on his suit also add to the atmosphere as there’s no HUD on the screen to eject you from the eerie atmosphere.
Although you’ll revisit locations time and again, the missions you go on to get the ship back online and save your skin all make sense. And if I’m being picky there’s a bit of slow down when lots is going on at once.
If you want plenty of action, gore and thrills, get hold of Dead Space. Just make sure you play it in a dark room with the sound up high.
Dead Space falls just short of 9 out of 10.
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