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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dead Space & Dead Space 2 Reviews

The hype machine on Dead Space 2 was intense, and then with the floods of positive reviews coming from metacritic (there's still yet to be a single review that falls into the "yellow" or "red" catagory, and there are 45 of them, wow), and of course being a huge fan of survival horror, I decided it was about damn time I tried Dead Space. I'll be making a second post for Dead Space 2 when I fully complete everything the game has to offer (I've yet to try multiplayer, that's about all).

Dead Space Review

I picked up the first game off Steam for $6.80. What a bargain! Oh yeah, these reviews are for the PC versions of the game (though I was playing with an Xbox 360 controller, so when I talk about controls I won't be mentioning mouse and keyboard at all).

The game has a strong start, and takes little time to throw you into the middle of an intense, monster-filled, seemingly abandoned star ship. As I played through the game, I couldn't help but look in every single nook and cranny for ammo, as I constantly felt like each encounter with the hideous necromorphs was a battle simply won by the skin of my teeth, and that my medical and ammunition reserves were getting low.

To put it quite simply, this game scared the crap out of me. For about 80% of the game I didn't even use the run button. I would slowly skulk through the corridors with my Plasma Cutter ready to fire at the first thing I saw. Eventually I grew a pair and started running around and treating the necromorphs like my red headed step child. Though it did manage to continue to get a few more cheap scares in on my regardless.

How does one just face his fears like that? Well, simple really. Upgrades, lots of them. As you progress through the game you find items called "Power Nodes" that you can socket into your equipment and weapons to get more Health, ammo, damage, reload speed, and so on and so forth. You start off as a wimp, but slowly work your way to being a bad ass who is no longer scared, which is very satisfying. It almost feels like you grow with the silent protagonist of the story, Isaac Clarke.

Anyhow, as the Engineer Isaac you run around the USG Ishimura (a large starship that travels through the galaxy searching for planets to "planet crack" to take resources and use them for the betterment of the human race) searching for clues and trying to figure out what happened and how you can fix it, and last but not least, he's looking for his girlfriend, who was working on the ship for some time. Usually you're taking orders from one of the other teammates, Hammond or Kendra. Eventually you learn more about the alien lifeforms and why they are there, amongst other things. The story is a bit vague on details, but quite enjoyable regardless of that fact.

The atmosphere, graphics, music, and sound in this game is all top notch. The mood is set perfectly. You walk through a room, and hear an echo of a pipe falling, or see a shadow in the corner of your eye disappearing into a ventilation shaft, or those heart pounding moments where everything is all quiet, and then a damn necromorph jumps right at you from the ceiling. Shadow work is amazing, the surroundings are fantastic too. The developers did their homework on how to inspire fear into someone. Bravo. Capcom, take out a notebook or something, and get to work.

There's also a great variety of weapons to be used in this game. Most people tend to stick with the first weapon, the Plasma Cutter, for all their needs. Me personally, I found this method to be flawed only after getting so far into the game that I only upgraded that one gun (thankfully the others still had their uses, even though they weren't upgraded). I found the Plasma Cutter to be fantastic for one on one encounters, but a bit too hectic to deal with when dealing with large crowds. I found myself favoring weapons like the Pulse Rifle, Force Gun, and the Ripper by the time I reached the end. If you're playing this for the first time, I'd suggest showing love to all your artillery, as each of them have their own specific uses.

I can go on and on about how great this game is, but I think I'd also like to take a moment to discuss the few things I did not like... on the PC I could not figure out a way to change the analog sensitivity, which was rather annoying because I moved and aimed a bit too slow for my taste. I also hated how there was no button hot-linked to medical canisters. If I'm in the middle of a heated firefight, and need to heal myself, the last thing I want to do is run to a corner, open my inventory, and then select the medical item, then use it. For the most part, I had to just deal with the fact that if my health got too low and I was cornered or something, I was dead meat.

You won't be able to fully upgrade all your weapons and suits and whatnot with one playthrough, so remember that Dead Space is the kind of game that encourages replay value in the sense that it wants you to go back and finish upgrades, harder difficulties, and so on and so forth. It's nice like that.

All in all, there are too many good things to say about this game, and too little bad things. It would be too easy to say that Dead Space is officially my new 'go-to' survival horror title, but I'm going to say it anyway, with a bit of a twist. Dead Space is my go-to survival horror series, period. Find out in my next review as to why!


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