Dead Space

Reviewed by Father | 26 October 2008
Genre: | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Developer: Redwood Studios
TOG Score
Members (av.)
The Good
  • Great Atmosphere
  • Excellent Graphics
  • Innovative Interface
  • Perfect action and suspense matched soundtrack
The Bad
  • Not the most original plot.

Shooters have a long history of being set in a maze of inside corridors, one of the reasons for this had always been technical, rendering big outside areas requires a significant amount of processing power.  So the last few years we have had the pleasure of taking our shooters into the big wide open.
Dead space is a welcome exception to this evolution and takes the shooter experience back inside the bowels of a deep space mining vessel. 

What makes Dead Space such a great experience is that it manages to provide the player with an excellent dose of claustrophobia, a good set of frights and plenty of gory entertainment.

You take on the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer who is sent on a mission to find out what has happened to a remote mining vessel, it doesn’t take long to figure out that the ship has been overrun by xenomorphs, an alien virus has mutated the ships inhabitants into beings that require dismemberment in order to be brought to a halt.  Your encounters with these xenomorphs may give you an occasional scare in the early stages but it won’t take long until you can easily predict when you are about to be jumped, this nevertheless still makes for some good intense combat when your character is being besieged from all sides.

Those of us who played Doom 3 will undoubtedly see some familiarities in way the the storytelling progresses but overall Dead Space is doing a lot more for the genre then just a graphical overhaul, make no mistake graphically Dead Space looks excellent, the ship’s interior has a convincing futuristic industrial look, excellent metallic textures and atmospheric lighting.  Being set inside also means that your PC can most likely run this game fully maxed out at high resolution.

Dead Space can only be played in a third person perspective which is very much part of it’s charm as your character animates in a very lifelike manner.  Dead Space also use a very specific art style for your character, you’re not a space Marine in this game but an engineer and your outfit isn’t very military looking at all but nevertheless has this combination between a sci-fi and an old school diving suit. Dead Space is a very violent game but its more gore to the point where it's entertainment soaked in blood

Being an engineer also translates into the types of weaponry that you have available, many of them look more like tools then guns and are very good in slicing and cutting off the limbs of your enemies.
One of the weapons called the ripper allows you to use a midair suspended jigsaw which is without a doubt the most entertaining of the lot for those who like seeing copious amounts of blood being sprayed around, yes dead Space is a very violent game but its more gore to the point where it’s entertainment soaked in blood.  We Australians have to be glad about that otherwise it probably would have ended up with the ban hammer.

Where Dead Space really shines and innovates is in how it uses a very slick holographic approach to all items in the game that require interaction.  All terminals, elevator buttons you name it all have a 3D holographic projection, not only this but also your HUD is non existent in Dead Space and is fully replaced with holographic images informing you of everything you need to know.  It all works very well and gives the game an overall feeling of polish giving it a movie like feel.

One part where Dead Space absolutely delivers movie production values is in its sound quality and soundtrack, there is no ongoing soundtrack as such but when the action and suspense is mounting it’s reflected in the music score which gives the whole experience sound like being in one of the Aliens movies, sound effects are also great when in certain areas like vacuums where the sound is all muffled, there are always sounds of metal pieces falling throughout the ship, whispers and you hear your own heart beat at times.  The game very much gets a big boost in it’s atmosphere from its soundtrack alone.
One part where Dead Space absolutely delivers movie production values is in its sound quality
Nor is dead space a run and gun type shooter, you will mainly walk rather then run through the game watching your every step and bulkhead and approach the next corner with care.  Ammo is anything but plentiful, although you find ammo along the way the game really forces you to think before spending or upgrading your equipment and depending on your playstyle you can choose to spend credits on those things that suit you best.

One of the weaker parts of Dead Space is probably it’s story but despite the “accidental hero in a ship full of aliens with some predictable twists to the plot” it thankfully doesn’t get told in such a way that it becomes excessively cheesy and the minimal amounts of voice acting is certainly of decent quality.

Although you mainly run around the ship fixing things in the order of “for A to work I need to fix B but C is offline” type scenarios there is enough variety in the levels to keep you wanting to explore despite the obvious repetitiveness of this “Isaac the fixer” plot.
Dead Space lifts the genre on so many fronts by implementing plenty of innovation
If you thought that we have experienced all there is in the corridor shooting genre, think again.  Dead Space lifts the genre on so many fronts by implementing plenty of innovation that it managed to exceed my expectations and the end result is a very polished and thoroughly enjoyable game which I have no problem recommending.

If you enjoy sci-fi, if you enjoy killing aliens with plenty of gore or if you want to play a shooter that does something different then shooting AK-47’s then Dead Space should be on top of your list for this holiday season, you won’t be disappointed.

What do you think of Dead Space?
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Member reviews

- Wiz_74 |
| 27 October 2008

While I think the game itself is great. Its graphically stunning, pulls off the scare factor very well. However the over the shoulder/3rd person type view is enough to actually put me off the game. I am glad I had the chance to play it at a mates house before I spent money on it to be honest. Its a shame as it would have been something I really could have gotten into if it wasnt for the view you are forced to play the game in. I was actually watching him up a bit further in the game and he was grabbed on the legs by something. Most of the time he spent fighting the game to get a camera angle in which he could actually see what was attacking him. Great game but sorely let down by a bad view.

- Father |
| 27 October 2008

The over the shoulder view takes some getting used too but in today's world of high resolution and widescreen monitors I didn't find that it took away from the the screen real estate, definitely with not having a HUD I found it to add to the whole visual sense of being. But it's a matter of preference this one. The grabbed by the leg part btw is a certain type of alien attack and actually is deliberately done in such a way that it's hard to get your aim right. The alien has one vulnerable spot which you need to try and aim at while being dragged on your back. So it actually captures that sensation quite well ;-)

First person - Wayfarer |
| 27 October 2008

Yah, I can't stand over the shoulder (third person). It has to be FP or I don't feel part of the game. What a shame, looks like it might have been a great game.

- Bloodwrych |
| 28 October 2008

I've been playing it on the PS3 after hearing initial mixed reports about the PC control system. The over the shoulder view does take some getting used to as I prefer FP in such games...but once you adapt the game is quiet enjoyable. Ammo on the first chapter may be in reasonable supply but if you go feral you are likely to run out rather fast and have to rely on king hitting and stomping their heads in instead. With this game dismemberment is pretty much the best way to go to stop a hostile mob.

- Father |
| 28 October 2008

The 3rd person perspective was without a doubt very much a design decision aimed at given you that extra bit of immersion which comes from getting the visual satisfaction of watching your character develop over time.
And this works very well I'm not just saying this because I wrote the review but if you approach the game from that point of view I would think you would have a great time with it.

There is a mouse lag issue when vsync is turned on in the game, it's very strange indeed, the fix is luckily easy (albeit it should not be needed), just turn it off in game, force it via your gfx card, problem solved.

- welshman |
| 29 October 2008

Great review But like some others i am put off getting this game with the 3rd person over the shoulder view ( for me it only seems to work in games like BIA Hells Highway and R6 Vegas 2 because it's a limited function). Doom 3 was great because the 1st person view really put you into the game and (For me anyway) the view in DeadSpace is a little bit of a let down, In todays PC market both views should be an option A-la Hitman Bloodmoney and then let the Gamer decide On another note for those that are enjoying the game they should get the Prequel anime DVD Dead Space Downfall which will set the game up and give a lot of back story of how all things came about

- Bloodwrych |
| 30 October 2008

The 3rd person view will put you off at first if your accustomed to first person view. Persevere with it though and you will find it isn't awful like those of us who like FP would think. The third person view helps you to see the character Father says...and adds to the sometimes caustrophobic feel in the game when in tight corridors getting your ass handed to you. The view initially had me debating about purchasing the game...but now I have...and have put in enough time to adapt to it I am finding the game quiet enjoyable. Give the game a level or two with an open mind to get a feel for it and you will see and appreciate why they went for that view instead of classic FP. Having the sound up high....or even surround sound...definitly adds to it as you can hear stuff (and sometimes just think you can hear stuff lol) happening around you.

Unplayable - Bikkies |
| 1 November 2008

What about lefthanders who use arrow keys for movement, the keys are totally unbindable. What were they thinking or was it a lack of?

- Rog69 |
| 4 November 2008

I played this one at a mates house last week, I didn't really expect much more than another badly ported console game but I was really surprised when I got to play through most of the first 2 levels. Years of playing PC FPS's made me want to hate the controls and over the shoulder view at first but after a bit of mouse sensitivity tweaking and just playing for a while I really started to like it. I loved the ambient sound effects and the graphics are great too. The whole game reminded me of System Shock 2 (my all time favourite game) which is no bad thing. It's a shame it comes with limited install DRM otherwise this would be a definite purchase for me.

- my_right_buttock |
| 8 November 2008

Played this one on the 360, enjoyed the storyline, some good scares early on although you come to expect them by the end. Parts of the plot reminded me of System Shock 2 but the game put a new enough spin on things to keep me interested. The controls on the 360 I found worked pretty well, the over the shoulder camera look works well, a lot of the 360 shooters seem to like this look so I am used to it by now. Overall I think this game is definitely worth a rent at the least, it can be finished it around 12 hours so might not be worth a purchase.

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