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. DSX says:

    While I enjoyed Dead Space quite a bit, I think it’s single largest failing was being released among a all-time high crowd of other more anticipated titles. A couple months later could have made all the difference, both in terms of polish and sales.

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    Apnea: if you’ve really been going back through the site then I don’t think you’ve looked closely enough at the existing coverage. We ignore/dismiss plenty of stuff.

    Of course much of the writing on RPS is positive. That’s intentional. A site that focuses on being cynical or angry rapidly becomes tedious, while a site that is always positive becomes shrill and annoying. We’ve tried to strike a balance, but we err on positive, and try to *recommend*. Largely the person who likes a game most has the energy to write about it.

    Also, we’ve tended to avoid writing posts that are pure bitching. We ended up not saying much at all about Fallout 3 aside from odd criticisms here and there – which has resulting in at least one random commenter assuming it was our Game Of The Year, despite not even being mentioned in our end of year round up. And only I wanted to write about Far Cry 2, because I had loads of time for it, even when I thought it was horribly flawed.

    In fact, now I look back, I can see all the games that we disliked, ignored, or openly laughed at. And there are many. And some of those are the biggest selling titles of 2008.

    There’s a whole bunch of mainstream games that barely get any coverage at all. Not because we haven’t played them, but because we’ve got no inclination to give them any air time on RPS.

  3. Rich says:

    I bought this game not so long ago, but unfortunately there’s some serious coding issues that prevent a large proportion (check the dead space official forum) from playing it for more than 5 minutes.

    After 24 hours of changing almost every setting on my PC (which is more than capable for Crysis I might add) and updating everything I still had no luck. So I spent 30 minutes getting a refund from Tesco then bought Motorstorm for my PS3 for less than half the price. Never looked back since really!

    Shame though, because Dead Space ticked ALL of my boxes and I’m sure I would have loved it. I may grab it for PS3 if my PC-pride will let me.

  4. Xhumar says:

    Out of all the readers here, I wonder how many really played on the hardest settings. There’s a big gap of fun factor between Medium and Hard, and even more between Hard and Impossible

  5. Gap Gen says:

    The thing about L4D is that it openly says “when you press this button, zombies will appear”

    Rich: I can imagine Dead Space working well on a console. The heavy, naturalistic movement system would probably work well with an analogue stick. I remember pressing melee many times, so he’d continue hitting the alien long after it was dead. I don’t know if that was intentional, but it does give a nice feeling of some terrified guy panicking and just wailing on something until it was just giblets. If this were more like a horror game and less like a shooter (with fewer enemies, less powerful weapons and more unpredictable level design, perhaps), it could be really scary.

  6. Don says:

    On one of the articles that came out when it was released I said I’d maybe give it a go when it was at a budget price. Well I saw it for under a tenner and snagged it. Biggest waste of almost a tenner ever. I should have done a bit of research first and then I’d have found a bunch of people enraged by the problem I ran into: the lousy PC controls.

    The game only recognises 3 keys on the mouse and you can only map them to certain functions – and not the ones I like to use the mouse for. I tried setting up the keyboard to something I could work with but it was hopeless. To move fast while steering with the mouse required 3 keys pressed (plus mouse work, obviously) but even when you got going it was pretty clunky.

    I lurched down a corridor pursued by monsters at the beginning of the game and got a gun. I can only fire the gun when I’m in aiming mode – another key to press. You’d have thought the player pressing the fire key might be a clue that they’d like to be aiming the gun but not in the world of Dead Space. After a couple of viewings of a fight that looked like something staged by a drunken puppeteer using a puppet with a few broken strings I decided I’d got better things to do. Off it went to the charity shop.

    Now perhaps if I’d practiced for an hour or two I’d have got sufficiently used to the controls to make it playable, though it would never have been pleasurable. Or I could got a game controller. But if the developer can’t be bothered to enable you to map keys as you like on the PC – a fairly trivial task that most other games manage – then I can’t be bothered to spend any time on it. There are plenty of better options out there.

  7. Subject 706 says:

    After disabling vsync, I found the controls to be perfectly ok. The game was very stable for me, never crashed. As a game though, it was a bit of a hit and miss. Just like with Bioshock, the massive potential of what the game could have been nagged.

    Visual and sound design was great, combat system too. I’d have preferred first person view though, there’s no reason the (admittedly innovative) HUD couldn’t work in first person, except for the life meter. But hey…WHY would you put a life meter along the spine of a suit? Not like you can look at yourself, right? Why not on the wrist?

    Silly vending machines and linearity plus a story that started interesting but went to utter shit in the end put it down though. “We built a copy of this monolith and then we made a big monster, because we could, now you must DIE!” kinda sums it up…And the boss fights were seriously shit. Especially the final boss.

    To sum it up : An ok game with some good scares that could have been great if it had been introduced to less linearity and more complexity a la System Shock 2. Plus a coherent story. Why is it soooo hard to write a good story???

    End rant.

  8. Andrew says:

    “I wonder how many really played on the hardest settings.”

    I’m going to admit that I didn’t. I don’t trust survival horror games on hard. Going through the game on medium, I could look around and see “there would be a monster right here if I was playing on hard”. Too many enemies takes the tension out of a game. I’d rather saunter through a number of empty corridors, and then get surprised than constantly battling hordes of baddies.

  9. MonkeyMonster says:

    Actually just a round of applause for Jim’s last posting. That there are 4 actually quite individual brain pods in the hive mind seems to be oft ignored and you are treated as a singular entity. Seriously readers – just imagine one of Gillen’s suits wrapped around a skulking Alec… It just doesn’t work.

  10. Demon Beaver says:

    I’d like to add that the screen feels really crammed when you’re not playing it in widescreen. You don’t even see all of Isaac. I really didn’t like it that way (and I do not have a widescreen to try it on. I just saw screenshots which seemed a lot better)

  11. Gap Gen says:

    @Don: Heh, I did try to beat all the zombies I met with the plasma cutter before realising you could shoot with it. In some ways it was a better game before that realisation…

  12. The Sombrero Kid says:

    this game was absolutely brilliant, i’ve heard of people having technical trouble with it and that’s a shame because it really is just resident evil in space, i didn’t notice the vsync issue because i never turn vsync on, why have 30fps of perfect images when you can have 100fps with 99 perfect and 1 fucked that i personally don’t notice when i’m playing cause i’m so immersed in the world.

  13. Dominic White says:

    @Jim: “Largely the person who likes a game most has the energy to write about it.”

    I’m sorry, but the internet largely disagrees. See the legion of furious people who pour out of the woodwork to write essay-length diatribes about how terrible Bioshock is whenever someone says something dangerous and inflammatory, like ‘I enjoyed it’.

    Still, it’s nice to see a games blog that is largely focused on reccomending fun things to people, rather than wasting pages where ‘I don’t like it, play something else’ would suffice.

  14. DMJ says:

    Dead Space is like tomato soup.

    You buy it and consume it while expecting it to be tomato soup.

    You will never experience a divine moment of soup-based revelation.

    You will never transcend the essence of soup.

    You will never find yourself transported through your taste buds into a world of never-ending soup.

    What you will get is tomato soup.

    Because that was what you wanted.

    Which is why you bought it.

  15. Jim Rossignol says:

    Dominic: I was talking about RPS there, not the internet at large. Clearly the internet is full of whinging fucks.

  16. Jason Moyer says:

    I’d like to add that the screen feels really crammed when you’re not playing it in widescreen.

    Yeah, that’s what ultimately killed it for me a few hours in. Playing on a 4:3 monitor the camera angle is ridiculously claustrophobic. It’s like playing Splinter Cell in its entirety from the aiming-cam or something.

    If it were possible to play it from first person or if it had a third person camera with a wider FOV when you’re moving without your gun drawn, I’d probably rate it somewhere around Doom 3, I guess (which is a game I enjoy for some reason). I’d rate it higher, but the terrible dialogue/acting and neverending monkeyboy quests are fairly crap, as nicely done as the atmosphere and shooty bits are.

  17. The Sombrero Kid says:

    yep as far as i’m aware the RPS writing team are all +15 and all the kids who write about bioshock having not played it are sub human, which is why RPS, including most of their readership, can manage to stop themselves from loudly belching their views of things they have no experience of all over the internet.

  18. Rei Onryou says:

    A good game that had to be played in short spurts lest I run out of underwear, it did suffer with a few issues (that are all fixable in a sequel).

    When I started, I had the mouse sensitivity issue. Looking back, I assume I would’ve turned off V-Sync, but I guess I didn’t. Maxing sensitivity just about did the trick.

    The HUD idea was good, and worked fairly well. No insta-pause map check. The only thing I found “silly” was the health bar on the back. The game story supports this as dig crewmates should be “watching your back” and tell you your health status. But we had no team mates. The 4th wall is broken as we are the team mate. Even a tiny duplicate of the health bar as a wrist watch would’ve sufficed.

    The story behind level objectives made me wince. “Ok, we need to get out of here. Oh no wait, this all important thing is broken and needs to be fixed first, then we can go.” Rinse, wash, repeat. Seriously, by about level 10, if you add up all the things that were wrong with the ship, its amazing it didn’t blow up before you arrived. And of course, as soon as you fix up every little problem on this mega-ship, it becomes completely irrelevant.

    The end boss was “cool” to a degree. The end boss fight was not. The penultimate level and boss fight lost all the tension and atmosphere. The boss fight itself was….lame? I don’t know how to describe it, but it didn’t feel like Dead Space at that stage.

    These are all fairly small niggling issues with the game compared to its overall success. I don’t like scary games, but I enjoyed crapping my pants with Dead Space. =)

  19. Mister_X says:

    Yeah turning off v-sync is a must, removed all lag for me.
    Very enjoyable play through. very atmospheric.
    I’ll def purchase the add on.

  20. James T says:

    I’m sorry, but the internet largely disagrees. See the legion of furious people who pour out of the woodwork to write essay-length diatribes about how terrible Bioshock is whenever someone says something dangerous and inflammatory, like ‘I enjoyed it’.

    What’s a sophist to do when the people he disagrees with are capable of expressing their opinions rationally? Criticise them for doing so!
    Critics can’t win — dumb it down to “[game] SUXS!” and you’re rightfully castigated; express an opinion by any means more sophisticated than banging two rocks together, and you’re wrongfully castigated.

  21. Paul Emil says:

    Once I got Dead Space working properly (disabled the Unimodem Half-Duplex Audio Device which was causing _dire_ lag) I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could run it at maximum settings at 1280×1024 (even v-sync seemed to work ok). I found the m/k controls to be good, the UI to be excellent and the combat to be good fun (especially when you go for plasma cutter efficiency:- one shot to the legs, another shot to the arms, STOMP!). I ENJOYED IT! Even the story…

  22. Seniath says:

    @Subject 706

    “We built a copy of this monolith and then we made a big monster, because we could, now you must DIE!”

    Technically, that should read;

    “We built a copy of this monolith and then we succumbed to its ill effects and ended up as a big monster, now you must DIE!”

    @Xhumar

    Out of all the readers here, I wonder how many really played on the hardest settings. There’s a big gap of fun factor between Medium and Hard, and even more between Hard and Impossible

    Aye, I played it through first time on normal, then started it again on Impossible. Using just the Plasma Cutter. I’m about half way through, but it’s hard going to say the least. And all the funner for it.

  23. l1ddl3monkey says:

    I liked it and, and I’m aware this is an odd thing to say on a review site, the fact that my opinion almost always runs in complete opposition to the majority (or at least the most vocal majority) means that “buy it and play it” is the only way I can decide what I do and do not like anymore.

    Game reviews are opinions on a form of entertainment and as such are entirely subjective.

    @ Rei: I always thought that the health bar on the back actually does make sense in a “real world” kind of way (yes I’m aware that’s a bad turn of phrase to use when discussing a game about monsters on a space ship). Why would you need to see your own health status on a display: if you’re critically injured you would know – because of the pain and disability of a critical injury. Whereas a health indicator visible at distance, even in the soundless vacuum of space, would be advantageous in a number of “oh dear we’ve rapidly depressurised – who needs help first?” scenarios.

  24. Vincent Avatar says:

    Ah, reading more of these comments reminds me of another reason I came to dislike Dead Space: it wasn’t an horror game as I thought it would be. It was not, to borrow a metaphor, tomato soup. It was chicken soup, which isn’t terrible, but isn’t the tomato soup that I was craving. It was too action-ish, a la RE4 and 5 (games that I enjoy, but then again I wanted them to be actiony zombie-shooting games).

    For horror, I still turn to Eternal Darkness, the game that gives you marzipan bullets to kill various incarnations of vile horrors and zombies, and then you explode into kibble.

    Only you didn’t actually explode, and the zombies weren’t actually there; you’ve hallucinated the whole thing.

  25. Guido says:

    Does anybody have a solution to Dead Space switching to sluggish mode as soon as you enter aim mode? I’d like for aim mode mouse speed to be exactly the same as regular mode mouse speed. If that happens, I can bear playing the game. Even with strafing while walking being really odd, and the horrible save point mechanic that I thought PC games had left behind.

    With my former graphics card, a GeForce 8800 GT, I had random crashes, at least that doesn’t happen with my Radeon 4870 anymore now.

    So, anybody found a way to make aiming mode work like it should in a PC title, and not a console title?

  26. apnea says:

    @Jim Rossignol

    Thanks for the response by the way. Helps to explain why negative coverage felt sparse.

  27. Roadrunner says:

    Dead Space deleted all of my save files for no reason recently, and I was on chapter 9 :(

  28. Rei Onryou says:

    @l1ddl3monkey: Yes, I did think about that, but considering it is also a space suit, I figure it must also represent its condition also. No good going into a zero-g/no atmosphere/in space area if your suit is roughed up.

  29. karthik says:

    The game was genuinely scary, and the Ishimura was beautiful in its grotesque decadence. The sense of mystery prevailed until the end, and I was compelled to keep playing it even as things went from bad to worse. And it played slick as honey on jackfruit.

    There was significant lore to take in after finishing the game, and as sci-fi universes go, this one was compellingly claustrophobic.

    Honestly, I don’t understand why everyone is justifying this game. What’s there not to like in the first place?

  30. Owen says:

    Great article Alec. This is one that I’d consciously avoided after reading a PCG article where it was mentioned the designers of Dead Space hadn’t heard of SS2.

    A good reason to ignore a game? No. Not that I’m suggesting that’s what PCG were recommending of course! It was more of a “this is a space based horror game….and they’ve not HEARD of System Shock 2!”.

    I’ll definitely give this one a try.

  31. malkav11 says:

    Dead Space is a bravura example of solid, unoriginal game-making. I do seem to recall some claims that EA was going in new and exciting directions with it, though. Which seems to have been a load of bollocks, if indeed such claims were made.

    I don’t trust my memory anymore. :P

  32. Robin says:

    I found Dead Space to be mostly bland, very repetitive, and marred by unintentionally cryptic puzzles. I gave up about halfway though. I’d rerouted enough power ducts for one lifetime.

    The feeling that the game is entirely manufactured for the sake of creating a ‘brand’ is overpowering. Nobody loved this premise or this story, and it was simply an obstacle between the (mostly outsourced) developers and their paychecks.

    Action Button’s hilarious review (a rare sympathetic piece of Tim Rogers affect-o-prose) incredibly manages to find *empirical examples* of how the developers did just enough – but no more – to make the game functional: http://www.actionbutton.net/?p=495

    “We reloaded a save conveniently located just a room before such a scenario, and were careful to walk into it backward. The corners of the entrance vestibule were clear; we dipped into the hallway; the music cue landed; an enemy literally appeared out of thin air right in front of our eyes. We giggled like the living room’s atmosphere was ninety percent nitrous oxide (disclaimer: it was). We tried to count how many times this happened in six hours of play, and ran out of fingers.”

    The zero-g bits are nice. As is the sound.

    But of course it’s not fit to lick Resident Evil 4′s parasite-riddled pantaloons.

  33. subedii says:

    Actually, despite Alec’s ragging on the title, “Dead Space” is an actual term. It’s a reference to the volume of air in the lungs that is not used during respiration (since the alveoli don’t come into contact with it). And this is a game set in space, where the protagonist wanders between vacuums and needs to be constantly wary of his air supply.

    Combined with the obvious references (it’s a game set in Space, with Dead monsters), and it’s apparent that at the very least they put some thought into the title. I thought it was really fitting.

  34. NegativeZero says:

    I can’t help but wonder – and I’m surprised no one has been bold enough to say this – if the recent increase in attention that this game has gotten has been at least partially because people are re-evaluating how polished and well-implemented a game it is compared to Resident Evil 5. I’d go as far as to say that Dead Space is the better of the two. It certainly handles better.

  35. Bluepixie says:

    Man, people have a lot to say about Dead Space. I ended up doing a review on it, primarily because I my site got it wrong (initiative, riiiiiight), but also since it was surprisingly better than anticipated.

    You can find my recipe for Dead Space (and review) here:
    http://forum.pausegaming.com/showthread.php?t=2246

    Or read on….

    Dead Space Pie

    Ingredients:

    Gaming Mixture

    Resident Evil 4 – 200g plain (base of pastry)
    Doom 3 – 60g to add repetitive dark environments
    System Shock 2 – 45g for richness in plot and character via audio logs
    2001: A Space Odyssey – Pinch for seasoning
    Event Horizon to bind it together

    Game Structure Mixture

    500g of solid Aliens style action
    1 large section of Solaris to fill in the holes left by Event Horizon
    1 stock cube of Sunshine for dramatic space opera visuals
    Granules of Evil Dead for gross out gore
    Blade Runner technology to aid seasoning
    28 Days Later violence
    1 tsp of The Thing for bizarre monsters

    Method

    Trim any gristle off the Aliens and dice into bit sized chunks. Don’t fry, keep it nice and rare, bloodier the better, then place in an EA development studio covered in controlling project managers, then add Sunshine, Solaris, 28 Days Later violence, Blade Runner and The Thing. Leave to seep and get some famous comic and animation artists involved.

    Cook at 160 degrees c for about 1 year then stir in a tbsp of Evil Dead until it thickens then allow to cool for few months or until just warm.

    Meanwhile, mince the Doom 3 (it’s hard to mix) and System Shock 2 (get rid of the best bits) and rub into RE4 and the 2001 with your fingertips until it resembles a playable game. Rub the Event Horizon in then add enough other horror ideas to bind the mixture. Cut in half and roll out on an office surface (to make the game at least 12hrs rather than 6) then place in a greased console, trimming the excess story and puzzles to keep things simple.

    Add gaming mixture then use the other half of the gaming structure to make a lid. Brush with Event Horizon then put in an oven pre heated to 190 degrees c.

    Bake for 1 month or until the game is fluid and original elements are less recognisable.

    Leave to cool for 2 weeks before serving with an animated film and comic series.

    Fini

  36. Xhumar says:

    “I found Dead Space to be mostly bland, very repetitive, and marred by unintentionally cryptic puzzles. I gave up about halfway though. I’d rerouted enough power ducts for one lifetime.”

    That’s an unfair judgement of the game. Certainly there are a lot of power ducts to reroute, but they’re not difficult to figure out, and they actually make sense in the game’s context

    And what about the cryptic puzzles? Which are you referring to, because I honestly don’t recall any. Then again it’s been a while since I last touched it, but I promised myself to go back to Impossible difficulty once my graphics card gets fixed up

    Like I said before, if you find it bland and repetitive, it’s probably because you’re not playing it correctly ie. Hard

  37. an ape says:

    What exactly is the difference on Hard? I only played it on Normal and got bored after a few hours.

  38. Sunjammer says:

    I thought Dead Space was a marvel. I enjoyed it immensely all the way through, and i think what they did with sound rivals even Bioshock, or even the stuff Eric Brosius was doing with Looking glass and Irrational. It’s a mindblowingly solid game that gets past its archaic conventions by simply doing everything as it should be. Much like Resident Evil 5 in that regard. There are mechanics and rules that should be taken out back and shot, but in a game world built by people who understand them to the bottom, they become deliciously palatable nonetheless.

    I think the dudes that made Dead Space should be proud as all hell. It’s one of my favorite sci-fi horror games ever made.

  39. John says:

    I just couldn’t stand the aiming for some reason or the flow both on pc and console. Which meant I fundamentally hated fighting the alien things.

    I comfortably settled into resi 4 and 5 doing reasonably well at the combat but I just cant seem to do well in dead space.

    It also scared me more than any other game has for some reason im not sure why, I think im one of the few people still suceptable to monster in the closet scares

  40. DarkFenix says:

    Personally I thought Dead Space was an excellent game. It was a technically competent and streamlined action game with more interesting weapons than the usual FPS fare.

    I can only even come close to classifying it as horror playing on impossible difficulty through. Apart from inordinate amounts of gore and a few monster-in-closet scares (which let’s face it got old after Resident Evil 2) the game fails to provide an atmosphere (simply because the weapons are powerful and ammo plentiful) on lower difficulties. On impossible I actually found myself hurting for ammo sometimes, and I felt vulnerable as a result (knowing a large wave of enemies is coming and being unsure if you’ll have enough ammo for them all is fantastic). Even so, the survival horror genre hasn’t aged well. The same easy tricks just won’t work and developers need to go the extra mile to create a tense atmosphere.

    Sure, Dead Space is unoriginal, taking bits and pieces from all sorts of games, but it presents them all in a compellingly well made package. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all a game needs to be great.

  41. Bassfreek says:

    After reading all these comments it leaves me wondering how many people played first time through on hard.

    I beat this game on hard for 360 using only the first gun (for achievement) and went back and tried to play on medium to get the other gun achievements, i found medium to be such a droll i couldnt even play thru the first chapter.

    For those of you struggling to find some replay value, i would go back and play through on hard or impossible using only the plasma cutter. It was one of my best gaming experiences of 2008

    PS: for those of you saying it a copy and paste of RE over a space backround, RE:5 could have learned ALOT from this game, maybe this is a franchise that can pick up the horror genre where RE:5 dropped the ball

  42. absentblue says:

    I always did applaud DeadSpace, for while it didn’t do anything new everything it did do it did just right. Contrived as it may be it’s still a solid experience and the same reason you may thoroughly enjoy an action flick and re-watch it multiple times (say, Commando or something else from the 80′s).

    It could certainly stand to be a slight bit original of course, and I suspect even an inkling of such would have propelled it greatly. Were it to step ever so slightly into the realm of the unpredictable it’d be great, but everything that happens is far too obvious to reap any enjoyment from it. In fact, the only genuine scary moment I can recall was a complete fluke as I did a 180 and found myself smack dab in front of a monster I had no inclination of.

  43. Indy says:

    As an aside I just found this on Gameplay for £12.99 this bank holiday. Have just ordered it and looking forward to playing it after reading this interesting article and posts.

  44. sigizz says:

    I had great time playing this game. Try to beat me at sigizz.mybrute.com

  45. Daniel Purvis says:

    Dead Space also accomplished something in regards to the way it employed sound that other games have not. When entering a room with exceptionally loud machinery, the sound is engulfing and suffocating and also drowns out the sound of nearby attackers lending a sense of claustrophobic anxiety in engine rooms.

    In addition, areas when the sound is muffled due to the vacuum of space also negate the obvious suffling and screeching of incoming hostilities.

  46. Stromko says:

    I rather liked Deadspace, even though I find the plot and level design creatively bankrupt. Now that I’m not actually playing it, I can even poke a lot of holes in the game-play itself.

    Really, the plot is just insufferably full of gaps– Why does X keep trying to kill you if it wants you to do what you’re doing? Why do doors constantly lock and unlock themselves ‘randomly’ and yet always let you go where you need to go (assuming it isn’t waiting for you to watch someone die, first)? How the f**k do all these chuckleheads manage to stay alive just long enough for you to see them die? How did one basic enemy manage to kill an entire ship full of badasses who should’ve known exactly what they were facing and should’ve been ready to fight? I could ask these kinds of questions all day.

    The basic answer amount to: “So we could pad out the action another hour or two.” or “It worked for the game-play”. The story is absolutely there to feed into the action, nothing more, and the action is laid out in the most pragmatic, efficient fashion to maintain a certain level of tension/catharsis.

    Ultimately I was infuriated by the plot, and the big ‘hallucinations’ reveal. We knew all along that people were seeing weird sh*t, but it’s not like we had any choice but to heed them since this a 100% sequential, non-branching plot. Once we hit the big reveal, it’s actually more sensible to assume that the main character was hallucinating anything and everything, because that would make more sense than the selective, externally-caused hallucinations that we’re supposed to believe in the ‘emotional’ plot twist. What was up with that ‘escort’ sequence, why were the aliens trying to attack something that wasn’t even there, and how did we get the door open if nobody was helping us? Also, if Z was dead the whole time, how did said corpse get on the shuttle so that it could eat your face in a non-controllable cinematic? Or was that also a hallucination? That anything could’ve been a hallucination is actually a sensible response to many of the plot and map design holes.

    Maybe there were no locked doors or lockers, the protagonist was simply unable to conceive of opening them until the Director decided to let them.

    But really I’m just overthinking. It’s a tight, methodical action game, and it does this well. There is no stealth, no branching plot, no sanity-check on the plot, it’s just a really spiffy corridor shooter. I even played it with V-sync on because I liked the slow, deliberate movements this forced, it felt right! ;)

  47. malkav11 says:

    The only games I can ever recall being fundamentally better on higher difficulties were things like Thief (and I think there are one or two others that do this) which add objectives in higher difficulties, thus expanding what you actually do in the game. Virtually everyone else just makes you less capable and the enemies more. I guess if challenge is your only criterion as to whether a game is enjoyable to play, the difficulty might make a difference there, but it’s certainly not mine.

  48. geldonyetich says:

    I was talking about this not long ago on my blog when I gave the game a spin, and I agree that the game is a whole lot better than the hype surrounding the game’s release suggested.

    It seems to me that the game’s main problem was it’s trying to pass itself off as being scary. It has a few decent scares, but for the most part the scariness factor is rather corny. This is where the negative hype came from: as far as survival horror goes, it doesn’t deliver well in the horror aspect.

    That’s fine: minor interface and plot quibbles aside, the rest of the game is awesome. Aside from a diminished RPG, it’s the kind of System Shock successor I was looking for. I don’t like being scared that much, anyway.

    I can actually explain some of these plot holes:

    “Why does X keep trying to kill you if it wants you to do what you’re doing?”
    Because X is not controlling the Necromorphs that are trying to kill you but rather part of the agent that serves to thwart the Necromorph hive mind.

    “Why do doors constantly lock and unlock themselves ‘randomly’ and yet always let you go where you need to go (assuming it isn’t waiting for you to watch someone die, first)?”
    It some cases it makes more sense than others – you’ll actually watch people activating something on their wrist that opens the door. Most of the doors are unlocked later because those who had the access to do so unlocked them when they thought it was appropriate. In the least forgivable cases, it was because the developers wanted the players to see a premade scripted cutscene without it – a required GM restriction to progress the story.

    “If Z was dead the whole time, how did said corpse get on the shuttle so that it could eat your face in a non-controllable cinematic? Or was that also a hallucination?”
    These unasked questions are there deliberately to prompt a sequel.

    One good question is how Z, on behalf of X, was able to manifest in such a way it must be defended so it can unlock a door for you. Is Issac actually the one opening the door? It seems to me that perhaps X had some telekinetic power, and was able to do things such as hack computers when needed (explaining certain faces and patterns to appear on screens).

  49. Nike Shox says:

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  50. Rolex Daytona says:

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