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First Impressions: Dead Space (why, why did I play this before I tried to go to sleep?)

Posted by: Chuck at 10/14/2008 12:26 AM
I've been looking forward to Dead Space for a while so I was overjoyed when I came home today and found a review copy sitting on my door stop.  Unfortunately it had to wait while I wrapped up Point of Purchase and my Saints Row 2 review which means I didn't get to fire the game up until a little before midnight.  Since this was a horror game I figured it was best to play the game with the lights off and the surround sound turned up allowing me to get the full effect of the game. 

The game starts off with Isaac Clarke and company flying to the Planet Splitting ship the USG Ishimura which hasn't been heard from in a few days.  Trouble pops up as you near the ship as the shuttle you are flying in is forced to make a rather rough landing.  Once aboard the ship you are separated from the rest of your party and have to go it alone.  Sure the plot is standard sci-fi but the execution is nearly flawless from what I've seen so far.

The game slowly introduces you to the mechanics of the game, from navigating the real time menu structure of the game, to using health packs, and more importantly how to use the stasis and weapons at your disposal.  The strategic dismemberment system works as advertised as you quickly learn to shoot the legs off the first monsters you see which allows you to get up close and finish them off quick a quick stomp of the boot.  Personally I ended up stomping on them more than a few times just to make sure they were dead.

I was prepared for some top notch graphics and great audio but what really pulled me in was how solid the narrative of the game was.  Much like Half Life 2 you are a part of the cut-scenes and the game never breaks perspective to tell you something.  Another thing that keeps you engrossed with the game is the excellent use of the third person perspective as the game keeps you tight enough in to Isaac to keep the game tense but far away enough that you're not constantly swiveling the camera.

So far I'm very impressed with Dead Space and it's going to be hard to mail off to Cyril for review. More than likely I'll be buying a copy this weekend as I want to see if the game avoids the monster closet pitfall that other horror games become dependent on.  Here's the latest developer diary that talks about the creature and world design in the game.