Dead Space: Dead In the Water?

By Kieron Gillen on November 7th, 2008 at 6:45 pm.

Welder, Welder, in your hat. Welder, Welder, filling a picture caption. Picture Caption! Picture Capture! I'm having a nervous breakdown.
Okay, that’s just going for the fancy pun-based headline as is RPS’ wont – it’s not dead, dead. But I’ve been thinking about EA’s recently released Dead Space’s chances, and this post was prompted by Yahtzee’s Zero Punctuation annihilation of it – which I’ll embed beneath the cut. He takes it apart – which is his wont, obviously – but it’s a game that seems to be slipping past everyone’s attention. Which seems somewhat odd. I mean, big-budget, hyper-slick action/horror game. It’s not exactly Dwarf Fortress.

I’m saying “wont” a lot in this post.

Anyway, here’s Yahtzee having a little ramble.

In passing, there’s a name for people who move from England to Australia: Criminals. We’ve got our eyes on you, Croshaw.

Where was I? Dead Space. Well, it’s too early to really talk about sales, but looking at the English weekly charts doesn’t show a game that’s dominating in the way which you expect a EA-backed game to do. It’s managed to hit Top 10 in all single formats, but now by its second week is already out of the all-format charts. Reviews have been favourable across all formats - currently 86% on the PC over at Metacritics – and that’s very close to its user-ratings. In other words, it’s out, people like it and… well, is that enough?

I admit, I haven’t played it yet. Jim has, and dug it. Why haven’t I played it? Well, it’s the reason why I suspect that it hasn’t done the business you presume EA thought it would do. It’s a ludicrously busy time of year. When I’m struggling to fit in Far Cry 2, Fall Out 3 and Left 4 Dead, do I really have time for a space-horror game that’s getting really good but not great reviews? Well, I wish I did, but I don’t.

And I think that’s what’s the problem – Dead Space seems to be hypercompetent and slick. But what it doesn’t seem to be is innovative. And at this time of year, selling a new creation without some obvious big hook to attract people’s attention… well, that’s hard. You suspect it may have done better in February, which is a traditional time to debut new IPs you don’t want lost in the Christmas melee.

Which leads me to the real point of the post. I’d had a few people mail us and ask us if we could do something about Dead Space, because they really liked it and thought it worth hyping up. I wanted to provide a place both for people who’ve played the game to have a little chat and for those who didn’t take the dive to say why.

I mean, is it the fact it uses the EA standard DRM? The lack of a PC Demo? Or just too busy?

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155 Comments »

  1. David says:

    Having played FarCry 2, Fallout 3 and now Left4Dead (demo, obv), the next new game that I play has to have the number 5 in the title. Otherwise it’s just not going to hold my interest.

  2. Solace64 says:

    I’ll admit it and say I jumped on the PS3 version because it came out a little while before the PC version. Either way though I am currently really enjoying the game. Maybe there’s nothing all that innovative but it does it all very well and that one boss fight mentioned in the video above was pretty freaking awesome.

  3. OJ287 says:

    I played it the other day on a mate’s 360. Its not bad, which is damning with faint praise I suppose. Its just not in the same league as Far Cry 2 or Fallout 3, or most of the FPSs I already have.
    Its like an ITV4 movie. You’ll play it and probably like it but theres no way you would buy it full price on DVD. Nothing special.

  4. ape says:

    For me it’s a combination of DRM, the absurdly high price EA seems to be asking for all it’s digital download games (with the insulting extra fee to guarantee a 2 year download limit) and the fact that I know myself as a gamer. If I got bored of Crysis before even getting to the aliens ( I played about 2 days then uninstalled) and forced myself through
    Bioshock so I could get to the climax with Ryan, I am certain a game that seems as repetitive as Dead Space will be a waste of money.

    Not to say it doesn’t look nice, it does, it’s just that I know it will not compare to the joy of playing World of Goo, or for that matter even Fallout 3 (which I love).

  5. Andrew Kirkman says:

    this is a slick game but It has become lost amidst me playing Far Cry2 and Left4Dead Demo, and after a very frustrating boss fight which Yatzee mentions I was left crippled with NO ammunition and a thousand barb throwing nasties to kill so I got frustrated and bored. Note this game is not scary at all, the only shocks are when the bloddy creatures sneak up on you in the vacume of space and the reaction is more of a oh jesus stop nibbling my head off!!!

  6. ImperialCreed says:

    I’d be playing it now if Dvd.co.uk had shipped it to me when they said they would. Cocks.

    Anyway, I’ve been really looking forward to this. I’m lucky enough to have been able to afford to buy pretty much all the big games out this past month. Finding time to play them is another matter, but I’d make an effort for Dead Space.

    I’m surprised it hasn’t set the world alight too. I mean with the TV ads, the animated comic, the DVD, the short games on their website. A tremendous amount of work has gone into marketing this, and it’s turned out to be a really solid game to boot. The fact that it isn’t burning up the charts makes me a little sad.

    But only a little. I still have Far Cry 2 to keep me company.

  7. Chis says:

    Based on Yahtzee’s review, lack of innovation is an issue, but I’d wager – a guess, I haven’t played the game – that it simply isn’t particularly inspired. Yet more “sudden scare” pseudo-horror. Wake me up when another game comes along – like Call of the Cthulhu – that dares to attempt true horror: something that makes you feel fear. Horror cinema and gaming feels grossly inadequate after reading Lovecraft, or Ashton Smith.

  8. MechaKisc says:

    I haven’t played it, and probably won’t. I haven’t played Mass Effect, and I haven’t played Bioshock.

    Those are exactly the kinds of games I’d have said I want to play, if you’d have asked me, but none of them interest me in the least right now.

    Fallout 3 and Dragon Age are the only things that interest me at the moment.

    Ok, fine, and WoW. I’m excited for the race to level 80.

  9. Tom says:

    I’m thoroughly enjoying Dead Space personally.
    The game play is a mix between Sys Shock 2 and Doom 3 I guess. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
    The moment when you go outside or glimpse space through a fractured hull are awesome. It is beautiful. I’d go as far as to say I’m enjoying it way more than I did Far Cry 2 – but only because my dislikes of FC2 just kept cropping up time and time again until I just couldn’t ignore them any longer. That game drove me nuts occasional – but to be honest it droves me nuts to the same level it impressed me.
    There’s more to Dead Space than I think people realise and isn’t really shown well enough in the advertising. So many lovely little touches, it’s extremely competent but not a game I’m loosing hours to without realising. I can happily quit and pick it back up whenever. Having said that though – whenever is daily, and for at least a couple of hours.
    I must admit I’m not feeling that desire to keep pushing on like I did with Sys Shock 2. But then I haven’t felt that in a game in a long, long time.
    Miss you Looking Glass! o/

  10. Pavel says:

    I played it about 20 minutes and quit, mainly due to meh beginning and small vomit inducing field of view. But I may try to play it sometime later, when I am not occupied by FarCry 2 and the others.

  11. kwyjibo says:

    It’s doing rubbish in the charts because it’s not a gift item, or heavily promoted.

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    It is very slick and solid. And I enjoyed it a great deal. And it is exactly the wrong time of year to release it. It’s getting drowned out by the half-dozen other games every already has on their plate. If it had come out after Christmas it might have caught more limelight. It is *just* a corridor shooter, albeit a pretty one with cool space vacuum/zero-G effects, and big boots in which you can stamp on stuff. You can also upgrade your mask, which I like.

    I gave it 86% in PCG. That makes me Metapsychic.

  13. frymaster says:

    actually I thought Yahtzee’s review was pretty positive, for a Yahtzee review ;)

    I will play this once I’ve finished Crysis, Crysis Warhead, X3:TC, Far Cry 2, Red Alert 3, and played some more left4dead.

    I haven’t even bought Spore yet, never mind dead space :(

  14. Heliocentric says:

    My other half is a survival horror junkie. I’ll be playing this some time after christmas, thats right i’ll assume she won’t read this and ruin her present.

    I already have a stack of older titles so i’m forbidden to buy anything but little indie titles which arn’t even at retail (hinterland, world of goo). Or titles under a tenner (gog.com here i come) oh… And 2 copies of l4d.

    We loves us some stupid zomfies.

  15. Seniath says:

    I picked up Dead Space, but have no intention of getting either Far Cry 2 or Fallout 3. Shun me.

  16. Solace64 says:

    Maybe I am crazy but I was mega hyped for Far Cry 2 but then I brought it home and played it for a couple hours and have not touched it since. I am tired of guard posts re-spawning in a matter of 5 minutes and random jeeps just dropping out of the sky to attack me while I travel across the map for the 7th time to go shoot something. I really want to enjoy this game, someone please tell me it gets better further in.

  17. Paul Moloney says:

    Publishers Publish Glut Of PC Games In Nov/Dec And Then Wonder Why The Ones with Review Averages < 90% Don’t Sell Shock.

    Seriously, my wallet is pretty bare what with Crysis:WH, FC2, FO3 and now L4D on my computer desk.

    P.

  18. frymaster says:

    (You haven’t got around to that Dwarf Fortress For Idiots Post yet, have you – RPS Subconscious)

    Thanks to your linking of the tag, I came across that line. It would be most appreciated, please :P

  19. Konky Dong 1000: I kissed a RPS Editor and I liked it says:

    Dead Space is not very innovative, but it’s fun as hell. I’ve played through it twice and I could see myself playing through it again.

  20. Carra says:

    Bad time to release “good but not great” games.

    Already bought World of Goo, Fallout 3, Left 4 dead & the new WoW expansion. Those alone should keep me busy for a few months.

    I don’t get it, there haven’t been any great games in the last 9 months and now they all pop up. Just release the good but not great games in those 9 months and I might have bothered with it.

    That and I won’t buy a game wich limits my number of installs.

  21. Jim Rossignol says:

    Someone should remind the big publishers that we don’t actually just play games at Christmas.

  22. Maximum Fish says:

    People who have played this: I keep hearing about “the most terrible mouse controls in port history” and so forth, which -and this may make me silly- has prevented me from buying the game. Is this true? Is there a workaround? In what way are they terrible and/or just fishy? Or are they?

    Obviously it’ll be awhile before I get tired of Fallout 3, but i’d be really surprised if Dead Space ever got a PC demo so i guess now’s my chance to find this stuff out.

  23. dadioflex says:

    You want to see a positive Yahtzee review look at the Saints Row 2 one.

    I think I have a prejudice against Dead Space because the videos I’ve seen remind me of Doom 3 and I got thoroughly disgusted with that about halfway through. From what I saw in the Zero Punctuation review I was probably right.

    Another thing. Dead Space is about 26 quid or so. X3 Terran Conflict is 18. I know which will give me far more VFM. (I’ll be reinstalling the now disk-check/Starforce free Gold version of the original X3, long before Terran Conflict though. I played X3 Gold for weeks and barely scraped all the modly goodness. I think it was only fifteen quid when I bought it too.)

    When games stopped coming out at that £17.99 price point on Play and Amazon I started to get a LOT more picky about what I spent my money on. I used to buy a couple of games a month, now it’s more like a game every couple of months. Doesn’t help that I don’t even know if I’ll have a job this side of Xmas. A situation shared by a lot of people I reckon.

  24. dadioflex says:

    Oh… Far Cry 2 again – re-spawning guard posts is amateur night. I figured out they should have had a pick a faction and expand your territory motive in the game so that once you took over a guard post it got held until they tried to take it back. Then you have the option to help the defence or leave it to take back next time. Running up the road killing everyone and then turning around and running back only to have to kill their friends all over again was awful.

    Oh and we DO play games at Xmas, except in my house it’s Gamecube MonkeyBall Racer on the Wii with my nieces and nephews.

  25. The_Mhor says:

    For me it’s the DRM. Sucks, but it’s true, they’ve cost themselves a sale (more actually, since I cancelled my RA3 preorder at the same time).

    Still, Fallout 3 and Multiwinia should see me through to Left4Dead, and I think that’ll be the end of buying other games for a long time!

  26. Kadayi says:

    Your pretty much on the money really Kieron. It all comes down to a lack of time. Dead space interests me as a title (I do find myself staring at it every time I’m in Tescos getting a lunchtime Sandwich), but with FO3, FC2 and the L4D beta to contend with, as well as GTA IV a few weeks away there really doesn’t seem much incentive to buy it fresh when by the time I’ve sated myself on what I’ve already got on my gaming plate, it will probably be in the 2 for £20 sale at Zavvi (along with BiA:HH). There was always going to be casualties in sales because of this busy release period and Dead Space is one of mine. I’d say it was a wise move by Monolith to shift the release of FEAR 2: Project Origin to next year tbh, because I suspect that too would of traded second best to a lot of other titles had it come out now.

  27. andy says:

    different strokes for different folks. i’ve enjoyed dead space a ton more than the ilks of farcry2. and personally have no interest in left 4 dead, not even worth installing steam to try it out.

    heck, i even bothered to finish the game. unlike farcry2, or the mirror’s edge demo.

    as for the doom3 reference above, please, not even in the same league. dead space is what doom3 SHOULD have been.

  28. Andrew Kirkman says:

    Edit to my earler comment…if u have played it or most of it…go back to the first chapter and play it with Biffy Clyro’s I am a mountain and no other sound…makes it much better :D…or maybe its just me :D

  29. cowless says:

    Far Cry 2 has a lower metacritic/gamerankings score than Dead Space.
    FC2 was a much higher priority for me than Dead Space because it’s in first person, basically.

  30. xz123 says:

    I really did like – or better: still like Dead Space.
    It is, together with Assassins Creed (surprisingly, as that one is uber-repetitive), the only game since.. Hitman : Blood Money or Thief 3 (whichever was last, excuse my brain) I didn’t put aside after two days of playing for a few hours. Bioshock got boring (although it reminded me of the good old System Shock 2 times), Crysis got boring – but remained pretty. Far Cry 2 didn’t ever even start to get interesting, and so on.
    Still not done with it yet due to some time constraints, but except for some minor flaws I really like it. It’s beautifully gory, and, playing it at night, scary. Sometimes you absolutely know what’s going to happen but still are full of fear and get shocked like hell. As long as you allow yourself to be immersed, of course, especially with headphones. There’s nothing really new in it, but succesfully implemented stolen ideas.

  31. Dean says:

    Also: not an established franchise.

  32. Katsumoto says:

    I definitely intend on picking this up, opinion over at EG is almost universally positive (which is very unusual!). It’s just that I hardly have any cash at the moment and Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2 seemed more essential.

    In hindsight, i’ll probably prefer it to Far Cry 2 (which I have been utterly disappointed by) but hey, too late now. I’ll get it at Christmas.

  33. Log1c says:

    Can anyone comment on the PC control scheme? I heard that its pretty much a console port in that regard and doesn’t handle as well as it could. (ie Mass Effect).

  34. I don't understand this comment system says:

    Yahtzee is dead wrong about this game. I had zero excitement for this game all during it development and only picked it up because of the ridiculously good reviews and because I was in the mood for another horror game.

    This game may not be “innovation”, alot of the ideas come from other games, but then again you can say that about every game out there right now. This game is just exceptionally well made with a few sparks of brilliance. The weapons are interesting and the monsters you us them on are designed to make the choose of weapon you use of them a strategic one. The upgrade system is just plain brilliant, every upgrade is a exercise in what do you need right now versus what you are going to need down the road.

    Of course normal mode is pretty much a cake walk so alot of the games subtly is lost. I know Yahtzee is playing on this mode because he is complaining about too much ammo. Whatever, I am going to back pedal and say that the game was still a blast on normal. I have no idea how he managed not to have fun with this game. Yahtzee is moving more more towards having a weekly flash video telling us to get off his grass.

  35. Dominic White says:

    I’ve currently got the PS3 version on rental (LoveFilm – I’ll keep it till I’ve beaten it on the highest difficulty setting, and then maybe a New Game+ run) and I’m with Jim here. It’s a very good game. Derivative (System Shock 2 + Resident Evil 4 + Metroid Prime + Event Horizon + The Thing), but highly polished and a lot of fun.

    The video review of it on Gametrailers pretty much nails everything I’d have to say about it – well, except for their gripe about slow inventory management in combat, because you have a quick-heal hotkey which is the ONLY kind of inventory usage you’d need in combat anyway.

    It’s just in the unfortunate position of being a ‘very good’ game in the middle of a cloud of ‘fucking fantastic’ games.

    As for Yahtzee – the guy has incredibly narrow taste in games, and lacks any kind of objectivity. He can be relied on for a fairly amusing bile-fuelled rant each week, but he’s pretty useless as a review source. He’s no Charlie Brooker, that’s for sure.

  36. Lobotomist says:

    I dont know why nobody ever mentions that the game is almost unplayable on PC due to insanely unresponsive mouse.
    That combined with weird displaced point of view , makes player noscious in mater of minutes! I wonder if the whole QA department of EA puked their lunches every day testing this game. Or was the game tested for PC at all ?

  37. Jahkaivah says:

    Going partially off-topic, is it me… or us Yahtzee going to absolutely LOVE Left 4 Dead? It has pretty much everything he had ever said to like in a game:

    - A creepy atmosphere making heavy use of paranoia (ala silent hill)

    -Intense killing-tonnes-of-dudes action (ala Painkiller)

    -In no way lets the plot drag the game down (one thing that irritates Yahtzee in a number of reviews)

    -A sense of humour (ala portal and psychonauts)

    -A valve game

    Multiplayer? Sure that may hold it back… but its a multiplayer game without alot of the flaws found in multiplayer games.

  38. Lars Westergren says:

    PC controls are ok – IF YOU DISABLE VSYNC! This is a bug probably… with it, controls are sluggish, there is a one second lag on mouse movements which makes it impossible to aim at the flailing limbs of monsters running at you. Once I disabled vsync and put mouse sensitivity to max, you still turn slowly but aim feels crisp.

    It’s great if you like survival horror. I got maybe 80% through it, but then I got bored with it, then the repetitiveness Yahtzee talks about kicks in. Now I’m stuck in Fallout 3 which I admit I love (despite being one of the angry fans of original Fallouts and hanging out at places like No Mutants Allowed and RPG Codex), and soon other titles will come out, so I don’t feel I’ll go back to Dead Space anytime soon.

  39. Pags says:

    Does anyone actually take Yahtzee seriously anymore?

    But yeah, I’d like to be the millionth person who agrees that this was just a poorly timed release which would’ve gathered some more momentum had it not been released amongst a bunch of other AAA titles. Unless people have a little more patience than I credit them with and they’re waiting for Christmas to get it.

  40. Sagan says:

    I have to disagree with Yahtzee here. I haven’t finished the game yet, but so far I don’t think it is bland.
    Like when you listen to the audio log of your girlfriend, and the heartbeat of Isaac quickens as a response. I thought that that was really clever, because they managed to show character reactions, even though your character is mute.
    And there was a “wtf” moment when I figured out, that sound is actually realistic in vacuum. As in – you don’t hear anything, except for your own suit.
    Or the moment when you figured out, that the meteorite field is also simulated realistically: When walking over the ship hull, you don’t have to dodge meteorites, but there are thousands of tiny dust particles that rip you to pieces because of their speed. Who would ever expect something like that in a game?
    Sure there is nothing radically new here like the Portal gun, but the game has surprised me a couple times so far with concepts that I didn’t expect. And that hasn’t happened to me in a long time outside of puzzle games.

  41. Skurmedel says:

    Solace64 : I think it does.

  42. Jamie says:

    The games scaring the crap out of me.

  43. rocketman71 says:

    The DRM. And they say the controls suck. But the DRM is enough. I’m not buying anything from EA until they drop the SecuROM shit.

  44. Jahkaivah says:

    @Pags

    Yahtzee isn’t neccissary right, but given the games which he says are good, he has a decent sense of quality, he is well worth taking seriously.

  45. Conquests.of. says:

    To me the game’s unnoticed passing simply means the game’s not good enuff for the picky Pc gamer’s palate.

  46. Sal says:

    what DRM? I played the S out of Dead Space last night, with a back-lit keyboard, headphones, and the lights out…spooky!

  47. Nahual says:

    I’m probably going to get some hate but the problem with this game it’s the fact that it’s in third person.

    The atmosphere is actually pretty good, the voice acting is good enough, the setting and graphics are great and all, but a third person game is just not scary beyond “monster jumping out of windows” scenarios.

    Resident Evil, Silent Hill, you name it, are just not as scary as good old fashioned AvP or System Shock (hell, even Doom 3 is scarier even if it’s mostly closet monsters) because as much as people want to defend those games you’re placing yourself in the role of a puppeteer, not inside the world itself and that just doesn’t do it.

    Other than that, i got the game but haven’t finished because Fallout 3 came out and i did kindda got bored of chopping limbs off. It’s just too busy right now.

  48. Ravenger says:

    I’d love to play this game but after getting burned with DRM on Mass Effect and Warhead I decided not to buy any more activation limited games.

    If it drops to a tenner in price, then I’ll consider buying it, as that’s a fair price for a game you’re effectively only renting.

  49. Jahkaivah says:

    @
    Nahual

    Yeah thats always bugged me:

    One thing about stealth games and horror games is the key elements are your restriction of vision. So why are most titles in those genres third person?

  50. Jamie says:

    “And they say the controls suck.” How do you mean? I was playing it on my pc 10 mins ago and didn’t have any problems.

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