Dead Space – Review

‘In space no-one can hear you scream…’

But in my living room they can.

I’m happy to admit to being a big old scaredy cat when it comes to shocks and jumps. I can take the gore and guts without problem but repeatedly being made to jump is something I find extremely annoying.

So I began Dead Space with positive endorsements all round but a slightly heavy heart with regards to what I was letting myself in for. 😦

It probably would’ve been easier for the game studio to pack this game full of shocks and it still would have been received well. However what they have done is create a tension filled feeling of unease that starts almost as soon as you enter the stranded USG Ishimura.

And it’s that feeling of vulnerability, the pull in your stomach – actually hoping there is a shock around the corner rather than some crazy event that leaves you wondering what the hell is going – that makes this a stand out game for me.

You play as ship engineer Issac Clarke, part of the crew on a repair/salvage spacecraft that is on it’s way to the stricken USG Ishimura, a mining spaceship upon which Issac’s girlfriend Nicole is stationed.

No-one is responding on board so you’ve been sent it to find out what the problem is and see if they need any help.

So far so Sci-Fi, the difference here is that you aren’t a marine or soldier – you’re an engineer. As such you don’t have super-human strength or machine guns, just the tools of the trade. Ok so it’s tools of the trade from the future but nonetheless, it’s not what you”d want (or expect) given the circumstances.

Before I go any further I have to mention the fact that the entire first chapter of this game, and the introductory fmv sequence, is among the best openings I have played in a game. The set up is exquisite and I won’t spoil too much for you within this review.

After entering the ship you become seperated from the rest of your crew, your only communication being over your audio/visual headset.

There is no HUD (Heads Up Display) in Dead Space – your health bar is a strip on the back of your spacesuit and any objectives/information come via hologram projected ahead by your headset.

This makes for a fairly immersive experience. I don’t need to look anywhere other than the action to see how much life I have left – same for ammo, it’s projected just behind the weapon so you can see it as you aim without looking away.

I have often heard Dead Space called ‘Resident Evil meets Alien’ but to be honest I suspect a better description is ‘Resident Evil meets Event Horizon.’

The shocks are broken up by some particularily freakish moments, often involving no input from the player – we merely spectate – as the virus/disease that has hit the ship takes hold. 😐

Another thing I liked about this game was the fact that it also challenged my notion of gunplay. In other games, regardless of whether you’re shooting soldiers in World War 2 or zombies in Resident Evil, a well placed head shot (or two) is sufficient to kill off your enemy. Not so in Dead Space.

Because of the nature of the infected beings you have to dismember them one limb at a time. You shoot it’s head off it still comes for you. You shoot it’s legs off it drags itself by it’s hands to you. 😥

This instills even further panic as you know you’re looking at probably four shots to kill off an enemy. At least with the Plasma Cutter, which is your main weapon.

You also have a glorious weapon called a Ripper which is effectively a circular saw on an extendable rope that you can flail round madly cutting up all and sundry. 😆

Different weapons and equipment can be bought at stores strategically placed throughout the chapters and each of the weapons has a different feel, which is great.

The story is kept fresh with a few twists and turns – along with the introduction of further characters and new enemy types, which helps greatly with the pacing.

There are a few sections of Zero gravity, which show off the game’s amazing physics engine and while these are very well done it was the few moments venturing outside the ship which I found stunning.

As you come outside a clock races down on your back indicating your oxygen level and the sound of the game drops out completely. All you can hear is Issac’s breathing. The view of space at these moments is immense and I often had a mad scramble to get back to the oxygen filled ship after staring too long at the scenery!

Overall Dead Space was one of the best games I played in 2008 and with a playthrough time of under 10 hours is a perfect pick up and play game. Something to run alongside your 40 or 50 hour game of Fallout 3/GTA IV.

I would recommend this to anyone (over 18!) for it’s brilliant gameplay, amazing sound and great storytelling.

Rating: 9/10


  1. Nice review – looking forward to borrowing it off you mate! ;O)

    I’ve got a copy of ‘Dead Space Downfall’ for when we meet up next…

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