Dead Space

Game Review by Jessica Harris

Dead Space

Dead Space, under the genre – ‘Survival Horror’, is an ‘Over the Shoulder’ third-person shooter/adventure & strategic video game, but with a new and clever concept! – Instead of the main character being your stereotypical ‘Gung-Ho Lean-Green-Fighting-Machine’, straight-out-of-the-box and ready-for-action, the Electronic Arts development team at Redwood Shores decided to throw a little intelligence into the mix by creating a game centered around an Engineer & Ship Systems Specialist. Although, initially this may seem insane for some hardcore shooter enthusiasts, it is quite literally genius and the reason for this will become apparent as my review unfolds…

The year is 2508: Technological advancements have left planet Earth exhausted, and without the natural resources required to sustain life, mankind has been forced to search further afield; ultimately into another universe.

Huge mining vessels (Starships) called ‘Planet Crackers’ are sent by the Concordance Extraction Corporation to distant planets to crack open and mine for invaluable and precious resources such as Cobalt, Silicon and Osmium.

However, there seems to be a problem with the corporation’s biggest planet cracker in its class – the USG Ishimura, which seems to have experienced a communications blackout whilst mining a planet called Aegis 7. The closest starship, the USG Kellion, carrying an emergency maintenance crew, made up of the main character, Isaac Clarke; Kendra Daniels – a Computer Specialist; Zach Hammond – the Chief Security Officer and two other security members are sent to locate Ishimura and diagnose and repair the communications blackout. Visual contact is made, but there is still no response from the USG Ishimura. Suddenly, a garbled holographic message is received; it’s from Nicole, Isaac’s girlfriend, who is one of the crew members aboard the Ishimura. She seems scared and informs Isaac of impending danger, but from what – the message cuts out…

Zach Hammond instructs Corporal Daniels to dock the USG Kellion with the USG Ishimura, but there is a problem and the Kellion clashes and collides as it docks with Ishimura…

The USG Ishimura has gone dark. You are Isaac Clarke, engineer extraordinaire, and you’re in for the fright of your life. Players are immersed into a mystery riddled plot with enough twists and turns to make you dizzy. Playing the game reveals a mystery on a biblical scale as the religious ideals of our future are revealed in explicit detail, which is enough to make a surgeon queasy!!!

The developers, Visceral Game studios, have taken the horror genre to interstellar heights with Hollywood worthy scripting and storytelling techniques, which is very cleverly backed up by a prequel anime film!

The game play itself was a breath of fresh air, a completely new take on third person shooter action. The player is pitted against hordes of mutant alien freaks – Necromorphs, capable of slicing Isaac to pieces in gory detail. How can Isaac survive? Equip him with innovative ‘makeshift weapons’ so he can slice back. One of my favorites was the ‘Ripper’ – a long range chainsaw providing all the limb-chopping action anyone could ever desire. Not your style, use the ‘Contact Beam’ – a high energy launcher to blast your enemies to pieces. There are several improvised weapons to choose from as you work your way through the ship.

The clever thing is, you not only have to fight for your life, as an engineer you are set tasks to fix the ship as you make your way through the levels – brilliant idea!

From floating holographs to 3D Maps, all the information you require to work your way through the game is intelligently thought through, including the player’s health status, conveyed via a health meter, which runs down the back of his space suit, along with a stasis meter; stasis giving you the ability to slow down time when needed. As it is in the over the shoulder perspective, these meters are thoughtfully and conveniently placed.

Attention to detail is exceptional; Isaac has to wear a heavy suit making his run sluggish; in non oxygen (vacuum) areas the developers have come up with a novel idea – you can’t use the flame thrower! For there is nothing to combust! Also, when he dies in no gravity areas it shows his body floating out into space. These quirky features give this game the edge on its rivals.

The potential monotony of the game-play is broken up with new takes on old classics, i.e. in chapter four – the player controls a huge cannon, defending the ship from a barrage of asteroids – An old arcade classic!

By about a quarter of the way through the game you do find you have come across a variety of mutants. However, they all require the same murder tactic – removal of their limbs; I feel this could be improved upon by a variation of the mutant’s weakness, characterized by the mutant type. An example of this would be to make the ground level mutants have a weak point in the abdominal region, making it difficult to target. This would also make the game player think about where you have to aim, as well as concentrating on survival – increasing difficulty.

Another tiny issue is the weapons are schematics that can be used to purchase from the shop. Being an engineer, Isaac doesn’t carry weapons! A wider range of weaponry and customization of the weapon could be enhanced.

I also feel it would have suited the option of multiplayer and whether or not to have the choice to be a mutant or Isaac. Give a mutant better chance by involving super hybrids to vamp up the difficulty.

However, throughout the game I was filled with bursts of adrenalin: I was scared when chased, jumpy at random screams and felt tense during sudden silent, eerie moments. I also felt frustrated during the times when the Necromorphs were too quick for me to kill. The sinister music and dark atmosphere kept me on the edge of my seat and the power cuts added fuel to the tension. I would highly recommend this game to any adrenalin junkie!

Character Design: Workflow Diagram

Designer Republic: Hover Crafts

 

 

Research: Lunar Moth

Research: Rodney Matthew

Research Reference: City of Ember & The Matrix

Casino Research

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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