Dead Space: a Review of What is And What is to Come

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“Isaac, it’s me. I wish I could talk to you. I’m sorry. I’m sorry about everything. I wish I could just talk to someone. It’s all falling apart here. I can’t believe what’s happening… It’s strange… such a little thing…” –Nicole Brennan (Video Log)

How It All Started

In 2508, the USG Ishimura, a massive deep-space mining vessel, has gone silent shortly after unearthing a strange artifact. Isaac Clarke, ship engineer, is to embark on the repair mission after receiving a chilling video log from his girlfriend Nicole. Upon arrival, Isaac stumbles into a nightmarish blood-bath. The inhabitants of the ship are dead… and what is left of them roams the derelict ship. Madness from a questionable religion and infestation of an alien virus together have altered the crew into shambling creatures of the undead, and they want Isaac’s flesh for a more ghastly reason than devouring it. Cut off from his team, Isaac must defend himself from the never-ending alien scourge in a desperate and intense fight for survival.

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DEAD SPACE: an Epic Game

How would I describe this game? Well picture if you will, that the Resident Evil Series (game) and the 1986 blockbuster Aliens got together and had a baby. When I was playing this game, it felt as if though I was playing through an 80’s horror flick, a really good 80’s horror flick.

Dead space is a third-person shooter of the survival/horror genre, and that genre for a reason. Right from the get-go, you as Isaac Clarke, are thrust into a bloody mess. The problem you have to face quickly presents themselves. “Necromorphs,” as the name was dubbed, are not good news and have complete domain over the mining vessel. They are the spawn of a polymorphic extraterrestrial virus, a recombinant virus that only infects necrotic (dead) flesh, which has morphed the crew into deformed creatures.

What Makes it So Epic

The protagonist, Isaac Clarke, is a man of few words (not counting the grunts and screams that echo inside his helmet), and many players complained about Isaac’ lack of personality and depth. You only get a few glimpses of his face and never even hear him speak. But as a result, you feel is that though you are the one in Isaac’s shoes. But we do know that Isaac Clarke is the typical main character of a horror story. He’s not a gun-blazing soldier but your average Joe. He’s intelligent, athletic to some degree, and resourceful when the occasion calls for it, using his environment and whatever he can get his hands on to his advantage. Of coarse, sometimes the occasion calls for you to freak out and empty your ammo while firing in every direction. Just sayin’.

The story is the heart and soul of this game, and is essentially what drives it. The art, music, and gameplay only serve to compliment it. The script is film worthy as is the music score. The game plays with fluidity, separating the high and low events at perfect intervals, keeping a good pace and keeping you wary during the in-between moments. In accordance with these intervals and the gameplay, the music score builds up to a climax just as the game does, serving to amplify the fright. The scares are kept fresh, as new surprises and thrills are thrown at you at random to keep you tense and caught off gaurd. Ensuring that you are always thinking on your toes, and occasionally jumping at loud monitor static.

Of coarse, gameplay is also very important component in a game. The way the game progresses is also similar to other corridor shooters like Resident Evil. Clear a room of all enemies and the door to the next one is unlocked, or unguarded at the very least. You’ll have to scrounge for items and ammo while along the way, finding devices to apply to the suit you started out with. These will give you additional abilities that will aid you in combat or solving other problematic tasks. The suit itself is upgradable, becoming more durable when sustaining damage. The suit also has built-in gravity boots, helping you traverse the ship’s exterior and rooms where artificial gravity has failed, along with the ability to jump from surface to surface. Other areas of the ship have depressurized and hold no oxygen, making them vacuums void of sound and air, and forcing Isaac to watch his limited air supply.

To keep you indulged in the story, the camera controls work with the camera overlooking Isaac’s shoulder with the ability of a 360 degree spin. The camera never leaves Isaac’s side throughout the entire game, meaning there are no prerecorded cinematic scenes and every things plays out in real time, so you’re never pulled out of the desolate atmonsphere. Also to keep you attentive, all of the vital information you need to know is incorporated into the game’s visuals. With no HUDs (Heads Up Display) at the bottom of the screen, you are never constantly reminded that its just a game. Isaac’s health is represented by the blue neon tube running down his spine, with a circular power meter on his shoulder to represent energy left for the stasis module. The ammunition count for a weapon or tool is shown by a holographic projection from the item in hand. Selecting weapons and managing inventory are also done by the same means in real-time, and does not pause the game. This may prove difficult at times, but it keeps you scared and immersed.

As for the scary moments, its not so much about what is in front of you that scares you but what could be in front of you. You’ll find yourself flinching every time a shadow jumps across the screen or when heavy machinery suddenly kicks on. These would be the black-cat-jumps-across-the-screen moments from horror-slasher films of the 80’s. But the one thing that really made this game stand out… “Strategic Dimemberment.” Yeah, you heard me. Whereas most undead hit the floor after you’ve capped them between the eyes, these necromorphs just keep coming. Slice off a head or limb, and their still kickin’, not to mention ticked off because you just sliced off their head or limb. No the only way to put them down for good is to completely eviscerate them by hacking off every limb, then stomping on them to make sure the job is done. And with many different enemy types, the same method of attack doesn’t work for all, so be precise with every slice. Hitting some necromorphs in the wrong spot will just make your day worse. So when you hit the start button, forget everything you think you know about slaying the undead, because that knowledge won’t help you onboard the USG Ishimura.

DEAD SPACE 2: Why it Looks Even Better

Many can’t wait for the release of DEAD SPACE 2 in 2011, and who can blame them. The first time around, Isaac was a guy in the wrong place at the wrong time (as it usually is in a horror story). This time, we can expect Isaac’s character progression to take a similar path as Ripley’s from the Alien Saga. He is the only survivor of an alien infestation and is intercepted by another ship, assuming from what is heard in the Dementia Trailer. He has seen the enemy and knows how to deal with them, making him the go-to guy when things fall apart. On another note, from trailers and gameplay shown at the E3 conference, Isaac actually speaks this time around. And his helmet folds away to reveal his face more often, so expect him to have a greater range of emotion.

The masterminds at Electronic Arts Redwood Shores (now called Visceral Games) took the feedback they got from the first release and used it to guide them in creation of the sequel. For those players that complained about a lack of enemy types, new necromorphs like the Slasher Monk, Puker, Stalker, The Pack, and those giant ones from the E3 Trailer have been added to the preexisting list. we can assume more will present themselves when we play the game. For those who weren’t satisfied with the selection of weapons (I was – nothing pleases you people), added to the arsenal are the Javelin Gun, among others we assume. The Kinesis and Stasis modules are have been perfected and are much easier to apply to combat and tasks. And for those that got frustrated and disoriented while using the gravity boots, Isaac’s suit is now equipped with thrusters, allowing him to float freely in Zero-G. Why didn’t we have that feature in the first place, some players may wonder.

Aside from all of that, players already know that Dead Space 2 really amps it up. Just look at Isaac’s new suit, He’s obviously prepped and equipped for something other than ship repair this time. The clothes do make the man, and this time the wardrobe says “I’m ready this time.” Along with the change of wearing attire, the scenery is also different. Three years after the Ishimura incident, Isaac will be arriving on the Sprawl, a civilian space station set up over a mining site. A futuristic gold-rush town, if you will. From what is seen and heard in the Trailers, we can assume that Isaac is a mental patient and that his deceased one-time lover Nicole plays a role in his dementia. We also might get a description of that Unitology religion that’s better than a stupid text log (that I’m sure none of us bothered to read). Whatever gamers expect, they all expect a great game that will live up the pre-sale hype, and then some.

Dead Space 2 is an upcoming survival horror, third-person shooter video game for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. It is the sequel to Dead Space, and is scheduled for release on January 25, 2011 in the U.S.A and January 28, 2011 in Europe. Developed by EA Redwood Shores (now known as Visceral Games)

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Dead Space: released on Oct. 14, 2008 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, and October 20 for Windows. Genre: third-person horror action video game, developed by EA Redwood Shores (now known as Visceral Games)

Dead Space: Extraction: released on Sept. 29th, 2009 (U.S.) and Oct. 3rd (U.K.). Prequel to Dead Space, exclusive to the Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3. Developed by EA Redwood Shores (now known as Visceral Games)

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