Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Survival horror gets off life support!, May 22, 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dead Space (Video Game)
Many survival horror fans have gotten jaded. They think the genre is dying and in one review I heard someone saying Dead Space was RE 4 in space. While dead space has similar controls as RE 4 and even an over the shoulder 3rd person view point it is NOT remotely similar to RE 4 in atmosphere or level design.

For one thing,Issac is not a super elite mercenary. When the Ishumura planet resource harvester ship goes haywire Issac's job is to do some routine repairs. However there is a bit of worry right away when he receives an odd SOS from his main squeeze Nicole who is a medical officer aboard the space ship he is charged with fixing up. Luckily her message is so subtle and obscure it does not give away the whole story right away.

Along with Issac is a tough as nails take charge leader type and a female crew mate who is the shiznet at hacking and cracking. While these characters "help" Issac through a holographic communications screen with advice our poor protagonist ends up separated from his team and completely alone.

Dead Space is really good at telling you everything you need to know WITHOUT accessing a menu. Issac's health is measured by the glowing tubes down the spine of his armor and almost all information is relayed to him through a pop up screen device on his helmet he can manipulate at a whim. Likewise the crescent glowing icon on Issac's right shoulder gauges his "stasis energy" used to slow the opening and closing of malfunctioning doors. This makes Dead Space a more seamless experience and lulls you into a creepy train of thought of playing the game without always having the reminders it is a game.

Much like Bio Shock Issac comes to terminals where he can buy equipment such as ammo, health packs, and even new weapons. Each main ability or weapon is upgraded by circular disks called "nodes" you apply at fold out work benches. Nodes are rare, luckily they can be bought as well albeit at a high price. Issac even gets telekinesis. He can move things around and toss them similar to how Gordon Friedman does with the gravity gun in Half Life 2. Add all this atop of using gravity boots to mag lock onto walls and ceilings when in zero gravity it quickly becomes apparent Dead Space is not a tired retread or lackluster clone of Resident Evil. The only similarities it bears is that it is a hybrid between action thriller and survival horror. Luckily for those of us who love a good scare it is more terrifying and surreal than it is cheesy and over the top epic.

You can run and gun in dead space (further accentuating the differences between it and RE). As a matter of fact when hordes of necromorphs attack it is a good strategy to run backwards while firing away, or at least getting your bearings as you occasionally let fly with some sizzling plasma bolts.

So what are necromorphs? Apparently after busting apart a planet for resources the Ishumura away team found an odd artifact with ruins on it. Somehow this began mutating crew members into monsters. While that is not very original as a concept Necromorphs make ganados and zombies look tame by comparison. Even after having legs or an arm blown off these hideous freaks will still come after you and sometimes they may play dead after you hammer into them with a few rounds. As you confidently twirl your plasma torch and turn your back "wham!" you get a bone blade appendage through your kidney for not being thorough. I wasted a lot of ammo to make sure I decapitated every dead body or slain monster. Call me paranoid but hey, I rather be safe than sorry!

Each level has a series of mission objectives that range from refueling the Ishumura to recovering the captain's log. While these may seem a bit dull at least they make sense within a science fiction setting . In dead space you never have to find a ruby and an emerald then put them into the eye sockets of a gargoyle statue. Normally a puzzle requires using your telekinesis to move something or using a stasis shot to slow down a dangerous moving obstacle so you can past through into the next area.

While dead space is gory it does not just rely on blood n guts to frighten you. Even when you are not attacked by necromorphs the ship's metal haul creaks menacingly and the voices of the dead are heard whispering in select locations. You even pick up data pad diaries from Ishumura's crew and as you can well imagine their last moments were filled with dread and hopelessness. Witnessing Issac having to wrestle for his dear life while locked in the clutches of a necromorph is not nearly as bone chilling as helplessly watching the person who seems safe behind a window get impaled and dragged into the shadows screaming or having to look at a nurse cackling insanely right before she fires up a bone saw and cuts her own throat. You wonder who you have to pity more...the grotesque creatures or those who were left unaltered as normal human beings?

If you approach all this from the optimistic perspective of an enthusiast instead of an embittered fan boy Dead Space is a wonderful horror game. As much as I covet RE 4 and RE 5 and herald them as awesome games they are "thrillers". Dead Space quintessentially is "true dread" pumped right into your veins. It's not toying with your emotions or trying to be something it is not.

I began playing it in the day time and it still got my heart pounding. For the foolish elitist bigots out there unshakable in their stance that "western developers" don't know diddly about true horror this game has arrived to bust their chops!

In closing if you have played these games for many years you're not going to jump from fright every 2 minutes. Once you become accustomed to scare tactics it can NEVER compare to the glory days when you were a virgin of the genre playing Silent Hill or RE 2 for the first time. However to me this game is so excellent at what it does it deserves some grudging respect from the survival horror community.

Pros

+Intriguing story

+Unrelenting terrifying enemies that give their all even after their limbs fly off.

+Atmospheric creepiness that balances out the blatant blood and gore

+Easy to learn controls

+Can run and shoot.

+Things such as anti gravity exploration and using telekinesis "mix up" the usual horror experience.

+No annoying menus to jolt you out of the fear. Every aspect of the game from your health to gathered information is all woven seamlessly into the technology of Issac's suit!

+Issac's "weapons" are actually tools to start with reminding us he is a mechanic and not a steroid popping space marine.

Con

-It's a space ship so some areas get to look very much the same after awhile.

-Reading text logs via Issac's holographic visor is near impossible. In my opinion everything should have been voiced.

-Enemies are varied at first but get repetitive later on.

Pro or con??

+/- Issac is a silent faceless protagonist very much akin to the hero in Bio Shock, Gordon Friedman in Half Life 2, and Master Chief in Halo. To some of you this maybe a problem however my take on it is as follows.

"Issac doesn't talk but it is the very fact he doesn't spout cheesy one liners or ridiculous catch phrases that makes his struggle that much more realistic, horrifying, and genuine."

+/- There's alot of gore, perhaps moreso than any other game I've played. Sadly those that pride themselves on loving "psychological horror" are going to snub their noses at Dead Space a lot for that reason alone and in so doing miss out on the parts of it that are very surrealistic, thought provoking, and haunting.
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Initial post: Nov 18, 2010 6:19:34 AM PST
SB says:
Your review was absolutely hilarious! Very well written and on-point, and again, great sense of humor. Thanks!
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