Dead Space

Dead Space Review for PS3

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Fight off an alien infestation aboard an abandoned space ship in EA's third-person sci-fi horror.

Review Verdict Read Review
8Out of 10
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The Necromorphs are tough to kill, requiring dismemberment to finish off.
The Necromorphs are tough to kill, requiring dismemberment to finish off.

The Necromorphs are tough to kill, requiring dismemberment to finish off.

Because the enemies are actually tough to kill, and because the game is littered with jump-out-of-your-seat moments, and because it's really, really dark, with the only light provided by your weapon, Dead Space is perhaps the scariest game I've played in years. It's not going to weird anyone out on a psychological level, despite its best efforts to do so. One Ishimura resident who calmly headbutts himself to death is funny rather than disturbing, but the pleas for help from Isaac's girlfriend, Nicole, that whisper in the artificial Ishimura air as he delves deeper into its overrun bowels, do start to creep you out. Overall, though, it's got more scary shocks up its sleeve than a Texas executioner.

Where the game is less good is in the zero gravity sections. Here Isaac can jump from floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with the perspective shifting each time his magnetic boots land on metal. Some of the game's more elaborate puzzles play out in zero gravity, and require you to combine stasis and telekinesis to complete. But the controls don't quite facilitate the quick-moving jumping that's often required. This, coupled with the fact that you can only jump onto certain surfaces, leads to some frustrating, and unnecessary deaths.

What will divide some players, and indeed has divided us here in the office, is what Neon coined the 'Donny Darko button' - a thin blue line triggered with a click of the right thumb stick that shows you where to go from wherever you are in the ship. For me, this was a God send, and saved hours spent wandering around trying to find out where to go - Dead Space being such a dark game, it's often hard to know where paths lead to and branch out. But for others we can see the 'Donnie Darko button' making the game feel like it's holding your hand too tightly. You don't have to use it, of course, but you will, because you can, and because it's there. It can often result in 'follow the yellow brick road' syndrome, which takes a lot of the thought out of your play, and makes it feel more linear than it probably is.

What there won't be any discussion over is the quality of the game's graphics, and presentation overall. Some of the lighting is the best I've ever seen in a video game. Light will bounce off walls, cast ominous shadows and flicker when you least want it to. While aliens creeping about vents and flashing across the screen will occupy most of your eyeballs' attention, there are moments of graphical brilliance where you can't help but stop, pan the camera and absorb. One large, zero gravity room, where an asteroid is being held in place by spinning rings, is a wonder to behold. Brilliantly, when Isaac dies it often provides some of the game's graphical highlights. One death, from a human head with spindly tentacles creeping out of its neck (you read that right), will tear off Isaac's head, insert its feelers into his neck then take control of his beheaded corpse. That the frame rate holds up (for the most part) even when multiple enemies are on screen, and there's zero tearing across all versions of the game, makes the graphical quality even more impressive.

Dead Space is one of the best survival horror games of recent years, and totally deserving of your cash.

Dead Space is one of the best survival horror games of recent years, and totally deserving of your cash.

The sound, too, is some of the best we've heard. Terrifying screeching will boom out of your speakers when enemies jump out of nowhere. When you enter a room with a story to tell the audio will let you know you should be paying attention. The screams of dying human beings, the howls of dying Necromorphs, and the panting of Isaac himself is hugely impressive. And the voice acting, a mixture of shouting and panic, is wonderfully executed. Whatever your opinion of the game, the effort and attention to detail can't be faulted.

At first I thought Dead Space deserved a 9/10. But the more I played it the more I saw that it falls just short of the score. Why? Because, despite the quality of the game's central hook - creep around darkened corridors waiting for something to jump out at you - it can feel repetitive, especially towards the end of the game. That there's some backtracking in the latter third exacerbates this problem. It's not a fatal flaw, but a flaw nonetheless.

When you think about it, there's nothing new about Dead Space in terms of its plot or premise. Sci-fi horror flick Event Horizon has been a direct influence. If you were coming at the game fresh you might even think it was the game of the film, so similar are some of the set-pieces, room design and general plot. Then there's Aliens, and The Thing, and a load of other well-known sci-fi horror movies that are felt strongly. There's also more than a passing resemblance to Irrational Games' (now 2K Boston) System Shock 2, in that it's a sci-fi survival horror set on a giant space ship, and that the story is told through old audio and video logs, and that much of the back story and flavour of what went down is seen, rather than spoken, via brilliantly detailed rooms with delicately placed corpses and words scrawled in blood.

And, without spoiling anything for you, the boss fights are distinctly underwhelming - presenting yet another great big thing to kill when you might have hoped for something more subtle, intelligent, and perhaps disturbing, to tackle. The final boss fight won't ruin the game, but I was hoping for something less Devil May Cry and more, well, Dead Space.

On the whole though, Dead Space is a superb survival horror romp that's guaranteed to scare. If you like Resident Evil 4, you should definitely go out and buy this game right now. It's clearly set up for a sequel, and we can't wait. For now though, we'll leave you with the obligatory 'best played alone and with the lights off' advice. Go on. You're not chicken are you?

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User Comments

johnbog2009's Avatar

johnbog2009

dead space.on chapter 11 .i shoot big beast it lifts me and throw me down,i shoot it a few times and the game shuts down why,,,
Posted 15:12 on 24 January 2009
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TURBO_RAD

Looks cool
Posted 11:54 on 03 January 2009
chris's Avatar
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chris

this game was extremely well done. and thats something i hardly ever say.
Posted 18:59 on 03 November 2008
Vashall's Avatar
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Vashall

I felt it more as a "kill until something happens" technique
Posted 21:02 on 27 October 2008
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Petey

I thought it was pretty scary. However, I do have a 6.1 surround sound system that I turned up prety loud. The sound effects and music can make things unnerving and frightening.

Another thing that bugs me about Dead Space is the fact that there are areas where you have no idea what to do.

For example, one room that the player enters looks like the door has malfunctioned. Well, logic would dictate that the player has to repair the door, but while you attempt to find a key or power source to open the door, hordes of monsters come out and attack you including one monster that constantly regenerates and can not die. It turns out you have to keep killing monsters until your friend unlocks the door from the control room. I had to die several times to figure this out. The game has a lot of areas where you have to use "die until you to figure it out" techniques to progress. I think it ruins the mood and realism of the game when it becomes nothing more than a regeneration fest.

The game reminds me a lot of The Thing that came out several years ago. That game needed some polish as well.
Posted 20:09 on 27 October 2008
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Vashall

I never found the controls frustrating at all, I think it's one of the greatest parts of the game, to me they feel natural and so easy to get used to
I was confused at how Isaac decided to move slower when he walked on the growth stuff growing in places, does he fear itll attack him too or what?

I dont really know many stories that arent predictable or unoriginal in some way these days, though I thought the story was well enough done that we can grasp the basic ideas for the sequel, I'm excited to see how it goes next, I am hoping it keeps the same kind of play style, I'd hate for them to go first person or something crazy like that
I reckon this story was just a run up to what theyll do next, if it was too emotional then people would get worried its just some horror romance in space....basically the second resident evil movie in space, that whole nemesis and alice thing

I'm hoping they hurry and expand the story, many questions yet to be answered, the whole Altman thing and what happened to Isaac especially

Again I really didnt see the game as scary at any point, through music or the necromorphs...maybe i'm just conditioned by games these days to quickly and coldly kill anything that looks weird...I guess I should stay away from Cos-play conventions huh
The necromorphs just looked weird and I expected them to come out of vents so much that i looked at a vent and waited for one to pop out anytime i got quarintined
Posted 15:20 on 27 October 2008
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Pete

First off, the game does deserve the 8/10 rating it receives.Although the game does deliver on the scares and tension (the sound effects, music, and suspense are the games strong points),this game is not an original effort, the controls can be extremely frustrating, the story is highly predictable, and the game is devoid of any strong emotions (you never get to really feel anything for the characters especially the main characters girl friend). The theme has been played out before in System Shock 2, the Resident Evil series, and Doom 3. The controls are not in the least bit effective (moving like a snail and being over ran with monsters is not cool). The lack of any connections with the characters causes some problems when they are in parrel and you really don't know them enough to give any concern. Also, I noticed a considerable amount of slow down in some of the more elaborate areas which did not help when controlling the main character is so slow any way. It's not a bad game. It is perfect for a good scare, but it just has too many flaws to warrant a 10/10 score.
Posted 00:12 on 27 October 2008
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Vashall

It's undoubtedly a brilliant game, 10/10, even after it took 10 hours to finish I went back to play it some more and its a game I can go back to simply for the fun.

But am I alone in saying that this game lacked any fear factor?
Not once was I scared, even if something popped out randomly I just said hello and put it down in a second.

I expected to slowly walk around every corner but I ran around and of course at every chance i tried to stomp everything I could see.
The game just seemed so tame compared to what I expected.
Posted 19:38 on 26 October 2008
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FantasyMeister

I picked up Dead Space yesterday for the 360. I'm normally into RPGs so the whole 'upgrade' thing with suits and weapons really appeals to me.

What surprised me more is that I generally stay clear of shooters, but as this and Far Cry 2 were both getting glowing reviews I decided on Dead Space as it was offering something a little different at least (sci-fi setting) and personally I think the 5 reviews so far that have given it 10/10 were spot on, really love it.

It's about on par with Bioshock in terms of immersion, and although I think EA hyped their dismemberment system a little too much I'm really having fun slicing and dicing the various enemies, especially when I get to 'freeze' them with a bit of statis first so I can pick my shots.

The zero gravity sections are completely new in my experience and very well done, and the little touches like holographic menus and suit upgrades that really make you glad you spent credits on them all go towards rounding off a high quality game.

I've only just completed Chapter 3 of 12, so far it's the scariest game I've ever experienced - even when nothing is actually happening onscreen you're sort of permanently tensed with anticipation. I'm particularly impressed with the way they've basically done away with the point of having a manual because the opening levels act as a perfect tutorial, I never once felt out of my depth.

If they'd given Isaac some lines of his own so he could show a bit more character that would have pushed it into 11/10 territory, but overall I'm actually happy to sing EA's praises for once for not only bringing out a new IP, but for doing it so well. Quality game.
Posted 06:41 on 26 October 2008
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Krieg

Are you retarded? It's already out since october 13th.
Posted 23:55 on 19 October 2008
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Goldstone

Its not out yet! how do you know its an exceptional game...(dont get me wrong I cant wait for it to come out..I am sure it will be excellent though)
Posted 22:53 on 19 October 2008
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Krieg

You gave it the same score of dark sector, and other bad games. Think about it before doing this again. It's an exceptional game.
Posted 22:20 on 19 October 2008
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Krieg

Damn, i don't understand the reason that you gave it a 8. This game is completely awesome and don't deserve less than 9.
Posted 22:18 on 19 October 2008
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Goldstone

Have to say I am looking forward to this game and - barring any catastrophic reviews once its out in full - I will be buying it. If they get the game right...this could be the start of a great franchise. It just sounds good with the space aspect..something a little different it seems..
Posted 23:36 on 18 October 2008
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Bloodstorm

Oh god.......you people really need to get a grip on reality, that is HIS opinion on the game, he's recommending to you!! He gave it an 8 because it was HIS score of the game, i dare you, the moaner, to write a better review after playing them.

Example, i absolutely hate Halo 2, if i wrote a halo 2 review i'd be critising the lack of single player and the amount it needed polished up, final review, 5 out of 10.


I'm looking forward to this game and i'm defintely gonna be giving this a look-out for a demo for the PC.
Posted 15:32 on 17 October 2008

Game Stats

Dead Space
8
Out of 10
Dead Space
  • Very, very scary
  • Brilliantly executed sound
  • Incredibly atmospheric graphics
  • Repetitive towards the end
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 23/10/2008
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC , iPhone
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Third-person shooter
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 4,450 3
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