Dead Space

Dead Space Review for Xbox 360

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

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8Out of 10
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There aren't many games that make you scared. I mean real scared - the kind of scared that makes you fear the turning of a corridor, or the opening of a door, or the press of a switch. Dead Space, EA Redwood Shores' sci-fi survival horror, is without a doubt one of those games.

Its greatest achievement is presenting a game world, the city-sized planet cracker USG Ishimura, that never, ever, feels safe to explore. Even when you've played the game for hours, and have mastered the lumbering controls, and have upgraded both your mining weapons, suit, stasis and kinesis abilities as much as a single playthrough will allow, you'll still be pooing your pants at the flicker of a light, or the quick-moving flash of alien flesh.

What was that? You doubt whether a game can ever be scary? You're too hard to jump out of your seat, I hear you say? Forget it. You're horribly wrong. And I'm confident Dead Space's first 20 minutes, a wonderfully atmospheric and dramatic affair that sees petty engineer Isaac Clarke thrust into the darkened corridors of the Ishimura and charged with fixing everything that's gone wrong with the troubled vessel, while surviving an alien infestation, will eradicate any lingering posturing you have left and leave you dribbling for mercy.

The game begins with the crew of the USG Kellion making their way to the Ishimura oblivious to the horrors it contains. From their point of view they're on a simple repair mission, triggered after communications with the giant mining ship are lost. But something goes wrong, and the Kellion crashes, rather than lands, on the ship. Inside, the crew find the 1000 or so inhabitants of the Ishimura strangely disappeared. It's seconds, rather than minutes, before the first Necromorph appears - horribly twisted ex-humans who have claws for arms and a savage distaste for Isaac and his chums. In the panic you run for your life into the bowels of the ship. Separated from your buddies - helpful computer technician Kendra Daniels and Sgt. Zach 'I'm not sure if you knew about this all along' Hammond - you only have voice and video communication to keep you company in the dark.

Something bad has happened. Something very, very bad.

Something bad has happened. Something very, very bad.

From there, and throughout the game's lengthy, 12 chapter campaign (which should take you around 15 hours to complete, depending on difficulty level played) you'll be mostly concerned with repairing bits of the Ishimura in a desperate bid to escape. This fits, given that Isaac is an engineer, rather than a huge, hulking space marine. And, as such, he plays like an engineer, too. There's no jumping, strafing or rocket launchers here. Instead, Isaac makes use of mining tools to sort out the Necromorphs. For shotguns, or assault rifles, or sniper rifles, see Plasma Cutters, the wonderfully gruesome Ripper (a spinning blade suspended a couple of metres from your gun) and the pulsing heavy damage Contact Beam.

These weapons tie into how Dead Space plays more like Resident Evil than Doom. You won't be able to down Necromorphs by shooting them in the head, or in the chest. You have to dismember them in order to kill them, or they'll keep on coming, and coming, and coming. Your basic fight with a Necromorph is an exercise in efficient limb-removal. With the Plasma Cutter you might use a horizontal spread to slice off the legs, forcing it to the ground and slowing its approach, then switch to the alternate vertical fire and take off its claws. Exposed, run up to the limbless bag of mutated bones and foot stomp it into gory oblivion. Nice.

Dismemberment works wonderfully well in Dead Space, and you'll at times find yourself playing with it just to see what you can do. Eventually Isaac gains access to a time-slowing stasis ability, as well as a Gravity Gun-style kinesis ability. By combining these abilities you're able to control the crowds (which, by the way, can get very crowded) and often conserve fire by turning the Necromorph's weapons against them: Stasis one Necromorph, tear off it's claw, use kinesis to drag it towards you, then remove the rest of its limbs with its own arm.

The controls do pose their own problems, however. While intuitive, you'll find yourself not able to do things as quickly as you'd like, especially when the Necromorphs come calling in droves. In classic Resident Evil 4 style, you can't reload unless you aim. Nor can you run while aiming either, although you can walk. It all ties in with the feeling that you're playing as a normal guy, rather than a space marine, but there are times when the controls feel restricting.

The camera is both a strength and a problem. The third-person, over the shoulder perspective is again reminiscent of Resident Evil 4, and helps add to the claustrophobic feel EA is shooting for. But there are times when you wish you could see more of what's surrounding Isaac. For me, the camera feels as if it's just as scared of what's going on as you are, peering over Isaac's shoulder like a child peering over a sofa when he should really be in bed. Sometimes you just wish he'd grow some balls and take a good look around.

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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
TURBO_RAD's Avatar

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

Technical Specs
Dead Space
8
Out of 10
Dead Space
  • Incredibly atmospheric graphics
  • Brilliantly executed sound
  • Very, very scary
  • Repetitive towards the end
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 23/10/2008
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC , iPhone
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Third-person shooter
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 2,784 9
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