Looking Back: Dead Space

By Alec Meer on April 27th, 2009 at 9:23 pm.

I’d love to sit in on a game-name brainstorming meeting some time. Like The Thing, But in Space? “Nah, too prosaic.” DoomShock? “Might be true, but we don’t really want to get sued, do we?” Stampy Guy In A Funky Welding Mask vs Horrible Flesh Beasts From The Stars? “That’s far too exciting. Can you make it blander? Y’know, like really bland – so bland that people forget its name the second they hear it, and forever refer to it as ‘thingy, the brown one with the guy in the funny hat?’” How about Dead Space? “I’ve forgotten it already! Bingo!

The odds were against poor Dead Space from the start. That said, the popular misconception is that this spooky FPS-but-with-more-shoulder shooter didn’t do terribly well. This affords it an underdog status, and the devoted, word-spreading fans that accords. The reason I’ve been playing it recently is, in fact, an impassioned monologue by an oft similarly-opinioned friend as to how great it was.

I’d been resistant because it had seemed so bland from afar. Despite such devout defenders, the truth is it did okay – just not as well as the glut of really heavy hitters released in the Winter of 2008. With this and Mirror’s Edge, EA gambled on new IPs standing out amidst a crowd of big-name sequels, and it was foolish. It had worked the previous year with 2K’s Bioshock, but that enjoyed a rare double-whammy of intense hype from a System Shock/Deus Ex-reared hardcore and the anticipation of great-looking zombie-splatting from the mainstream. Dead Space went it alone, despite attempts to get the ball rolling early with an overly-functional comic/animated series prequel.

So, it sold okay, but it got lost. Even aside from the sales issue, a month like this is a far smarter time to wade into Dead Space. It’s quiet enough to sink into it, rather than snatch a quick play while half my brain is wondering about a crateload of other shooters.

My fundamental impression of Dead Space is that it’s significantly better than I’d been expecting, having previously caught of few minutes of watching friends control its plodding protagonist as instantly forgettable dialogue was spouted by conveniently-located audiologs. It is, to sheepishly blow the cobwebs off one of the oldest of critical clichés, far more than the sum of its parts. It employs every contrived trick in the book, from the aforementioned audiologs, to progression based almost entirely on Locked Door Syndrome, to vending machines that inexplicably sell incredibly powerful weapons to workers on a research station, to checkpoint-based saves, to pop-from-the-closet monsters, to indestructible glass keeping you from offing the baddie there and then… Y’know, the works. Everything we’ve ever moaned at an action game for is in there.

Despite pre-release mutterings of a possible System Shock heritage, really it’s Resident Evil in space – for all the satisfyingly meaty combat, its challenges are archaic and artificial, machine-cold obstacles upon our basic forward motion that we’ve struggled past time and time again over the last 20 years. No doubt this is the kind of statement that will prompt some to accuse me of naïvety or presumption, but the impression is that every potential obstacle and occurence has been implemented with the least possible consideration. Just do the obvious thing, because that’s what people expect. This, it seems to me, is a game that is highly, highly technical accomplished (I’ll get to why and how very shortly), but seems creatively defunct. The hokey, plodding meat-and-two-veg plotline and the over-familiar desaturated palette hint at this, while the backtracking and arbitrarily unlocking doors that characterise the level design positively hammer it home.

And yet it works – because making a game technically watertight at the expense of the flowery, enticing, adventurous Other we call for in most of the games we froth about really can be enough. It’s in your sensory connection to Dead Space’s world – the tangible punch of the weapons when their projectiles hit mutant flesh, the screen-shaking thump when you stomp your rock-heavy foot onto a crate or demonically-distorted skull, and most of all in the sluggish, disorientated trudge through zero-G and/or zero-oxygen sections.

There is something almost physical about the way hero Isaac Clarke controls – not quite natural, but a sense of a direct, puppet-like connection to your mouse and keyboard. His movement, and the unusual close-to-the-shoulder camera positioning, has proven hateful to some – initially I too loathed it, but something clicked about half an hour in, and it began to feel spectacularly there. (A possible helping hand to those disagreeing – don’t turn on V-sync in the game’s options, as it adds a strange extra sluggishness. If you experience screen-tearing as a result of turning v-sync off, force it on in your graphics card’s drivers instead and everything’s a-okay).

The other pillar of this remarkable connection to the otherwise entirely characterless Isaac is the user interface. The HUD isn’t a bunch of numbers and icons pasted neatly onto the corners of the screen – it’s made entirely of in-universe elements Isaac himself sees. Health is monitored by lighted tubes along his spine, his guns project an ammo counter above the barrel, and the endless, tedious exposition of his assistants and nemesises (nemesi?) is beamed just in front of him from his suit, their images shrinking and skewing as his head and body move.

Other games have attempted similar, but there’s something especially slick and complete about Dead Space’s take on it – and it means every inch of screen space shows the game, not the game’s menus. Again, it’s that strangely substantial connection to Isaac – not on any personal level, but the sense that you’re directly controlling him, not a floating cursor.

Two space parasite-infected thumbs up, too, for the sound design – a constant series of background industrial and bestial noises that make the rather plain setting and foes genuinely unsettling. The single spaceship most of the game is set upon may consist of similar, narrow corridors, many of which you have to retread multiple times, but thanks to the subtle ambient sound it feels like a vessel in distress, ready to sunder at any moment.

Dead Space is a technical triumph – a collection of rock-solid systems only slightly betrayed by a stinging obviousness to how the thing actually plays. We do so often cry for creativity and innovation, but what’s less often documented is a game’s feel, how it responds to you and you respond to it on levels other than the cerebral. Dead Space does very little to engage the brain, but it treats the senses with the utmost respect. That it failed to reach a truly massive audience can hardly be said to be a tragedy, but it certainly stands tall as one of the last six months’ more pleasing ways to fire a gun at something’s face.

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102 Comments »

  1. PeopleLikeFrank says:

    This is pretty close to how I felt about it. Played it, had an enjoyable (if diminishingly so) time. Was impressed at the talents of the sound and visual artists involved, rolled my eyes at the attempts of the writers involved.

    Read some glowing reviews which praised the aesthetics and fun moments of zero-g/vacuum level design, agreed. Read some reviews which panned it for its total lack of imagination and seeming drive towards blandness, agreed.

    Strange game in that I agreed with its harshest critics, yet found it satisfying. Of course, I haven’t touched it or really thought about it since, which gives an idea of the sort of cotton-candy satisfaction that it was.

  2. Pags says:

    For once I actually find myself in complete agreement with you Mr. Meer. I’d personally thought some of the obstacles the game threw out were quite inventive, but now thinking back on it, aside from an extra dimension added by the zero-g and extremely competent implementation, it admittedly didn’t do much new. Moving blocks, carefully timed runs… all old staples of the action genre, but given context and physicality.

    Along with how heavy the game feels (in a good way, though I played on the PS3 so didn’t get the odd laggy mouse movement) the sound design is probably the most cohesive part of this game, just magnificent stuff.

  3. MrBejeebus says:

    I still havent bought this game despite its good reviews, as i dont see alot of longevity in it despite its fun mechanics.

    I’ll probly pick it up 1 day…

  4. Vinraith says:

    I’ve always heard that the controls on the PC were too sluggish for this to be enjoyable. The lack of a demo on PC meant I was never able to see for myself, so I simply let it pass. After reading this, it may be worth bargain-bin diving for it to see if I have the same experience.

  5. c-Row says:

    I try to recommend this game as often as possible when chatting with friends about PC games. In my opinion, it’s what Doom 3 should have been like and the first game since System Shock 2 that had me frozen before a corner because of the horrors that would await me around it.

  6. Linfosoma says:

    Personally, I liked the level of detail and atmosphere in the game, though you are required to revisit the same place over and over.

    Gameplay wise this is 100% like RE4, which is not a bad thing, just not inventive enough.
    I did found the main gun to be incredibly overpowered, specially if you ignored the other weapons and used all your money upgrading it.

    Also, I hated the way each and every single enemy came out of an air shaft, what’s up with that?

    The story sucked big time though, I didn’t like the way “aliens” worked in the plot.

    Do you remember the game “The Thing”? That game was awesome!

  7. AndrewC says:

    I got the feeling the simple, obvious goals weren’t a result of incompetance, but a deliberate design brief to do absolutely nothing that would confuse anyone, just as a Hollywood action movie is deliberately simple. It is Aliens to System Shock’s Alien, if you like – the scares are all gross outs or leaping monsters or LOUD NOISES.

    While it is often not useful to directly compare games to films, this one seems to deliberately ape the rhythms, style and goals of action/horror films – specifically the bit in Aliens when the marines first enter the settlement.

    It comes over as dumb to us gaming pseuds, but it is utterly succesful at its aims.

  8. Chris Evans says:

    Although I haven’t gotten around to completing it, I think Dead Space is a very accomplished game. True, it isn’t a genre classic, but I think the EA really screwed up really is when they did. If it was released now then it would do much better sales wise.

  9. cHeal says:

    Dead Space took every single good idea from the past 5 or 6 years or shooters and implemented them perfectly which is why I loved it. On a technical level I couldn’t fault it. So often new features don’t work. it’s plain to see what the designers were trying to do but they hadn’t quite cracked the nut on it, Deadspace picks up where they left off and implement their idea with absolute perfect and leave everything with a thick layer of gloss too.

    The story is old, the setting is old, the enemies are old but the implementation is perfect. For someone who had never played SS2, Doom3, The Thing or any other other raft of games it steals from, it’ll actually probably be the single greatest experience of their life because the innovations won’t be spoilt by the sloppy design.

  10. Andrew Mayer says:

    I’ve decided to head back into the game myself, after running into the ancillary media (the anime is available on Netflix watch instantly in the US) over the last few weeks, and being impressed with just how effectively the universe was presented for this project through games, comics, and video.

    The game is a pastiche, no doubt about it. But it’s a good one, and I’m thinking it deserves more love than it got initially.

    There’s some awareness of it as a brand out there, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see a sequel, although EA has missed good opportunities before.

  11. Brulleks says:

    Nemeses.

  12. Tei says:

    The savepoints break my inmersion totally. Consoles still lack a harddisk to save games?

  13. cyrenic says:

    They released a demo for PS3 and Xbox360, but there’s no PC demo. So if they can’t be bothered to put out a demo for PC, I can’t be bothered to see if the game is worth playing or not :P.

  14. Yuccadude says:

    I just took a survey from EA about this game, as I had registered it, and from some of the questions, I get the feeling that there is going to be a sequel. Enjoyable game, but every time I had to go get something, I knew that there was either going to be something waiting for me there, or I would be locked in and things would come in and try to dismember me for a change…

  15. suibhne says:

    One point you didn’t make in the comparison with Bioshock is that the release windows weren’t at all the same, despite being only two months different. Bioshock came at the end of the summer, with almost no competition at all for gamer attention or dollars; if anything, Bioshock tended to look better than it actually was, as a breath of fresh air following a typically summer launch season of vapidity. Dead Space by contrast landed two months later (well, a year and two months later, but that’s not what we’re talking about ;) ), at the very beginning of the extended Holiday launch window – with other much, much bigger titles bearing down on it.

    What the heck was EA thinking?

    Btw, yes, I can confirm that the PC controls work beautifully and are far superior to those of the console versions; Alec’s impression of the game’s physicality is spot on. The control problem noted in so many reviews is due to the game’s implementation of vsync, but reviewers apparently couldn’t be bothered to try turning off vsync. I’m not suggesting that reviewers should be fielding tech support for every new title, but it’s pretty striking that so many ostensibly “PC” reviewers these days don’t even know enough to test vsync, long one of the bugbears of PC game performance/usability.

  16. Kompi says:

    I didn’t really like Dead Space much at all myself (to the point where I’ve snarkily called it Dead Pace every so often), though on reflection I think that might not so much be the game as me expecting more a blend of System Shock and F.E.A.R. rather than the Resident Evil in Space that it turned out to be.

    It’s kindof strange because I wanted to like it – I love how the UI is included in the game, I love how they’ve atmospherically contained everything within the setting. I expected something that’d spook – or atleast unsettle – me though, and Dead Space utterly failed in that regard. Big dangerous enemies were more annoying than scary, and the point where the game officially lost me was when the enemies-out-of-grates thing had become so predictable as I found myself laughing at enemies doing their startling apperance by jumping straight into waiting crosshairs.

    I think my problem, as such, with Dead Space can largely be defined as this unshakeable feeling that for atmosphere, Dead Space really wanted to be F.E.A.R. – and it does seem to send the odd loving glance that way (notably at the very end), but most of the time it seems to consider that ambition beyond it and simply settle for being Resident Evil.

  17. MrFake says:

    Precisely how I felt about Bioshock. A bland flavor with a disappointing aftertaste, but carrying a subtle, unique, and enticing aroma.

    Plus, I let Bioshock mature for a year before giving it a taste, so I wasn’t quite as affected by the hype (actually, I had to let the adverse reaction to the hype wear off before I gave in). I’ll do the same for Dead Space, even if by all accounts it seems not worth it.

  18. Seniath says:

    My love for Dead Space is already well known. As for the weakness of the story, after speaking to Antony Johnston at Thought Bubble last year, I got the impression that the backstory was crowbarred in. Apparently they had to push just to get that one audio log from Braham in the game. However, should a sequel ever happen (nudge nudge wink wink) they’d tie gameplay and story together from the start.

  19. RandomEngy says:

    Dead Space is amazing. The atmosphere and sound makes the game incredibly immersive and the difficulty is incredibly well-tuned.

    You never get killed unfairly and it encourages you to break out your “panic” weapons when it hits the fan. The game never lets you coast by: it always encourages you to focus in order to succeed.

    For single player games I usually play a little, get tired of it, come back, etc, but for Dead Space I played at every available opportunity until I had beaten it.

    On top of that, the thing is rock solid. Good performance, no crashes, no usability issues. It’s like someone actually cared how well it ran on a PC.

  20. pillxthrills says:

    “…to sit in on a game-name brainstorming meeting…”

    It’s way more painful and drawn out than you think. It’s like giving birth to a child, with your mind.

  21. tom says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed Dead Space myself.
    You’re completely right when you say you felt connected with Isaac. That game really, REALLY, put you in that world in a way that most imo fail. And i think it was that connection that held it together for me.
    As soon as i feel disconnected from a game i loose interest in it. That part of the reason I generally don’t enjoy RTS games – that top down view leaves me feeling alienated and uncompelled. I like to feel like i’m in the world and DS nailed it perfectly.
    And it did have it’s fun moments. Like when Mr Mad Scientist dude starts laughing in your face then give himself up to be infected. You pop out and kill the beastie infecting him before he transforms. Enjoyed that.
    But it’s characters did lack… character. If the story line had been as compelling as System Shocks it world have been massive. And easily would have given Bioshock a run for its money.

  22. Leman says:

    For a game in the survival horror genre I was expecting to be asked to do some pretty amazing things, you know everyman stuck in an amazing situation.

    What I found was myself being asked to some pretty menial tasks by someone sitting in a nice comfy room instead. “This is broken Issac, you need to go fix it.” “Issac if you don’t go repair this we might die, but take your time theres no actual rush it just needs fixed.”

    Great im a space workman and the game treats you like one. The enemies are so instantly forgettable aswell theres not a single memorable enemy, ask someone thats played say RE4 what they thought about the Regenerators and Iron Maidens and you’ll get a shudder of recognition. I don’t even remember what any of the enemies names were in Dead Space, or even what they were.

    I can see why people really enjoyed it, it has amazing standards throughout but it just felt soul-less really. Maybe im just being overly harsh.

  23. SirKicksalot says:

    Random fact: the black guy is voiced by the Emmissary from 300. He says one of the greatest lines of 2008 a few hours into the game. I liked him a lot…

    I loved the ending section, the sense of despair, bleakness and “that something’s wrong here, innit?” is amazing.

    The story… or better said the backstory made me think a lot at everything that happened after I finished the game. It’s not a “in your face” story like in… uh, many other games (has anyone ever wondered wtf was going on in Resident Evil 4?), it’s just a bunch of very subtle details and hints, like in HL2. They have a formidable universe waiting to be explored!

  24. Mark says:

    Confession time: I played this through in a single session, lasting nearly 23 hours. I was sucked in like no other game in a long time.

    Things that worked included sounds from machinery that sounded like it could be a baddie that wasn’t. It kept me off-guard just enough to make the jump moments that much better.

    Things that didn’t work included the incredibly weak story of the main character and his girlfriend on the ship (you see holos of her starting with the very beginning of the game).

    Sadly, the replayability was a bit weak, because it was so linear, but some moments were so enjoyable (zero-g in particular) it was fun to replay once.

  25. Nullh says:

    I sincerely love Dead Space, I agree with cHeal in that it did nothing new, but everything it tried was well implemented. Admittedly you could paste an Umbrella logo on the side of the spaceship and brand it as a Resi knock off, but I enjoyed this much more than the fifth game in that particular series.
    It’s definitely the sense of place that sells it, from the in-game hud to the clunky boots to the Aliens inspired ship. This game actually made me a little scared to play it, which I found remarkable after feeling burned out on most horror titles.

  26. Vincent Avatar says:

    One of the problems that I had with Dead Space was the death sequences. Simply put, they were too long. While I’m all for the occasional “Crazy Chainsaw man hacks off your head while you watch” of RE 4 and 5, I don’t need nor want to see a sequence that protracted every time I get killed. Quite bluntly, it’s all right for me to topple over with a hole in my chest, or for my head to fly off, as long as it happens quickly. I don’t need to see every damned enemy face-fuck me to death in excruciating, twenty second sequences. Death is frustrating enough without having to sit through a protracted scene of my demise every time–and I’m a person who didn’t think the notorious Valkyrie sequence of Too Human to be asking too much from the player, considering you didn’t have to then sit through a loading screen or anything of the sort.

    It was a well-implemented game, but one I ultimately lost interest in and sold back (because I played it on the X-box, because my computer is currently less game-powerful than my Xbox).

  27. Gnarl says:

    The main point I find surprising I haven’t seen mentioned is the limb thing. Having completed this myself recently my main memory will always be the way it messes with my many years of FPS training to aim for the middle torso, or head if time allows. This actually caused head pains the first 3-4 hour session as my learned instinct fought with my recently acquired knowledge, my reticule sometimes flicking back and forth.

    Other than that it was probably one of the better games of last year. Good atmosphere, weapon progression and with a good (as mentioned) connection with the avatar. Although I could never entirely by into the universe with the main displays in a place ol’ Isaac could never see without wing mirrors or putting his back out. Stomping was good though, enough that it was used when foolish, or unnecessary (die tentacle baby die, etc.).

    The plot wasn’t bad, as such, but I wouldn’t praise the way it was introduced. And it seemed to combined pretty flat voice work with some fairly outstanding motion capture work, which was bit strange. And I enjoyed it’s flirtations with mainstream religion, before it shied sensibly away.

    It’s release was well judged for the season (cold, empty) but not for the competition. If it gets a sequel, as has been suggested, it would have to really push some difference to pull me in. Boredom was settling in towards the end.

  28. Moonracer says:

    A good take on Dead Space. I really hadn’t given much thought to why I like it. I guess I just put it up there with enjoyable fluff/action scifi. But the game does have a really solid feel to it, and the implementation of the HUD into the game world is quite enjoyable.

  29. toni says:

    what I liked that on hard (and later on impossible) it plays just like the difficulty said: hard or pretty impossible even if you got the enemy encounters memorized. when 4 necros swarm you, you can’t plan that ahead and it’s those moments where the “panic” weapon comes into play: for me it’s the secondary on the contact beam or the secondary on the rifle. the bigger necros will kill you in one slash, so impossible does pose a good challenge. pity though about the “learn the pattern” bossfights. those felt very poor to me.

  30. Grey_Ghost says:

    I love (loved?) this game! Seriously…
    However I hated the controls, the key remapping was so damn limited (can I blame console porting for this?)! The game also crashed a whole helluva lot!

    The worst thing for me was the game really offers no reason to replay it whatsoever. Honestly though, should I really fault it for that? Maybe in a couple years it’ll be distant enough in my memory to play it again.

  31. Dominic White says:

    Seconding the ‘Forget what you’ve heard about laggy controls’ – that was a bug, and a very easily bypassed one, linked to the slightly weird way the game implemented Vsync and frame-buffering.

    You just force Vsync off, and bobs your uncle – snappy, responsive controls – your reward for a total of five seconds effort.

  32. Gap Gen says:

    I did like Dead Space, but it was more unnerving than actually scary, since it was often quite predictable. It used the “corpse on the ground not really dead” trick almost every other corridor, for example. Oh, and of course gratings contain monsters. I admit I didn’t notice the locked-door/artificial-level-lengthening thing, but I’m not all that observant.

    That said, it was a solid game, and the way it messed with your head towards the end was neat.

  33. Kieron Gillen says:

    pillxthrills: We’d believe you. You should have seen our ones for naming the site.

    KG

  34. Radiant says:

    I played the demo and I didn’t know which was more monstrous: the lumbering controls or the poor things I was dismembering.
    I took it off my lovefilm rental list; I might just put it back on.

  35. Premium User Badge

    solipsistnation says:

    Yeah, I pretty much agree all around here, except that I did pick it up day one and start playing pretty much immediately. It’s a visceral sort of game, and I found it almost entirely enjoyable, aside from a couple of kind of ridiculous battles and the unfortunate tendency to drag out the life of enemy models through reskinning. (“Ooh, it’s that guy, but now he looks all black and burnt. Okay.”) Some of the weapons were pleasantly memorable (the remote-control saw blade, yeah!), and overall, well, it was a creepy enough game that I had to pull my feet up off the floor because I kept having the feeling that something would grab me from under the couch.

  36. The_B says:

    I’ve got to the sixth chapter and haven’t played in about two months. Not because it isn’t good – which it is – but because I am a giant wuss.

    OK I SAID IT, HAPPY NOW GAME?

  37. InVinoVeritas says:

    Dead Space has the distinction of being the only PS3 game I own that I played through enough to earn the platinum trophy. The level of polish and the unique weapons held my interest through 3 playthroughs. I could have done without the asteroid shooting mini game though…

  38. Ted says:

    I’d never pay full price for this, but if it ever eventually shows up as Steam 50% weekend deal I’ll get it.

  39. azwipe says:

    I thought the atmosphere was suitably horrific. The monster that screams in very human pain as it spawns those dart-shooting pods; the survivor who is just crying uncontrollably over the corpse of a loved one as you’re trudging through a blood-slick corridor – you can’t talk to her, she’s lost her mind and all you can do is trudge on…
    Not to mention the reanimated dead babies.
    It wasn’t ‘boo!’ scary, but some of the monster designs and the overall horror of the environment are as bad as any horror movie I’ve seen.

  40. Arca says:

    One of the things that bugged me whilst playing Dead Space was the fact that some of the ‘encounters’ were so amazingly obvious. For example, the decontamination chamber. I’m sure nothing will go wrong whatsoever once I hit that button. Oh, look, zombies!

    Ah well, at least it wasn’t as bad as Doom 3, where you got predictably ‘ambushed’ every five seconds.

    Maybe I’m just a bit cynical having seen just about every trick in the book…

  41. Radiant says:

    The thing with Doom 3, what made it so shit, is that the game was so tunnelled that if you got ambushed the first you’d know about it would be your screen bobbing up and down and your health depleting.
    You’d invariably turn around and see this ridiculous monster [and 3 of it's identical brothers] slapping you in the back from a previously ‘empty’ corridor.
    One “for fuck sake” later and you’re back peddling shooting bullets apparently made of marzipan trading blows with a beast that’s too fast for you to get away from.

  42. qrter says:

    I quickly gave up playing this game. Sluggish 3rd person controls in tight corridors? Sluggish 3rd person controls when I’m supposed to hit specific bodyparts? No thanks, my natural frustration levels are high enough as they are.

  43. Plushpants says:

    For those suffering a lot of tearing in this game and hence unwilling to sacrifice vsync, check out the url below.

    http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=121887

    Apparently it only works for ATI hardware (worked beautifully on my 4850), but Nvidia types could give the d3doverrider bit a go.

    But whatever you do don’t play with vsync switched on in-game, it totally sucks.

  44. MikeBiggs says:

    It took me a while to get used to the controls but like alec says after a while they just ‘click’. Once that happens the game becomes unbelievably compelling. And I really can forgive the mediocre (I refuse to say poor. There have been so many worse!) scripting because the feel of it is so visceral, so real that I couldn’t put it down for hours!
    It’s definately on my list of games to buy when I collect enough gold coins to afford it!

  45. Oak says:

    Arca:

    I’m sure nothing will go wrong whatsoever once I hit that button. Oh, look, zombies!

    I guess it speaks to the power of presentation or Valve’s ingenuity that that exact scenario is used recurringly and to great effect in Left 4 Dead.

  46. Arca says:

    I guess it speaks to the power of presentation or Valve’s ingenuity that that exact scenario is used recurringly and to great effect in Left 4 Dead.

    Gah! Not logic!

    L4D doesn’t have some of the same problems seeing as it has random horde spawns (rather than a bunch of predictable set pieces) so it’s only those crescendos and finales that stand out.

    I have no idea where I’m going with that, but that’s what I get for posting at nearly 4am.

  47. apnea says:

    Looking back on your coverage of games which came out during last year, one sometimes has the feeling that every major game ‘works’ – in spite of some numerous flaws, blooming late, when insulated from pre-release hype, etc.

    Is there any big-budget game you guys would consider ‘not good enough’? Is there any AAA title of last year not deserving of your usual ‘not so bad/grows on you/focus on the good’ impressions?

    This is not anger. This is perplexity.

  48. Collic says:

    This is a blog written by games journalists in their free time. It turns out they like a lot of games.

    Who’d have thought it, eh ? :)

  49. Cptn.Average says:

    Someone in these comments mentioned that Dead Space isn’t a ‘genre classic’, and I disagree. I think it may not be an instant classic, but it combines so many of the genres staples so well it’s hard not to recommend.

  50. Ravenger says:

    I really want this game but out of principle I won’t buy it with limited activations – even with an activation revoke tool. That’s despite seeing it on sale for as low as £15.

    I’m still waiting for EA to put it Securom free on Steam in the UK, months after it was made available to the rest of the world.

    Why aren’t EA games available on Steam in the UK? Can the guys at RPS get some answers from EA on this? It seems silly in a recession to prevent millions of gamers in the UK buying their games off the most popular digital game delivery system in the world.