Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Dead Space: The Review

Developer: EA redwood studios
Publisher: EA
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Released: October 24th 2008
Genre: 3rd person sci-fi shooter/ survival horror

So its 3:24am and ive JUST finished dead space. i was really excited about this, which was confusing because ea hasn't made a good game since oddworld strangers wrath in my opinion. so after  couple-a-hour stints is it the next big thing in survival horror?

Honestly? no.

and for once I'm disappointed to admit it. 

I read the comics, did all the puzzles on the site, read all this lore voraciously, i had to know what the plot and back story was. All of that i loved, and don't get me wrong, i love dead space too. but its just a clone of resident evil 4.

So if you don't know already (and if you don't your mother and i are very disappointed in you young man), you play Issac Clarke. An engineer on a small ship investigating a distress signal coming from a dead, silent, drifting hulk of a mining ship the usg ishimura. unfortunately they get trapped there and they find out that, whilst the crews dead, the atmosphere certainly isn't.

cheesy i know but it works.

anyway i cant say much, but what i can say is the story can be wrapped up in 5 minutes, theres a good minute long interesting scene every few hours but all in all i finished the game wanting to know more, not in a sequel, but in back story. i needed it to be explained to me in a more concise and plain way.
Though this is a successful new ip so you know ea is gonna bleed it dry so i expect ill read a novel about it some time in 2009.
-Plus there is an animated feature film that tells the prequel story, so i guess youve gotta buy that to get the full experience. 

bad e.a.

Game play wise its pretty much resident evil 4. remember playing silent hill or resident evil first and then the other and going "hang on, the controls are exactly the same". this is just like that nostalgic 1998 feeling, whether its good or bad i don't know but there we are.
The merchant is replaced by a machine, but you still get loot and ammo from enemies, which you can then use to buy new guns and upgrade them and stuff. but like resi 4 you cant upgrade it all in one play through. theres logs, over the right shoulder aiming. in fact its pretty much resident evil 4 with a new skin.
though thankfully they've got none of those damn quicktime events. everything, including being dragged by a tentacle across a room and having to shoot its week points to escape is real time relying on you, not pressing a a lot. 
unfortunately i was drawn in with comparisons to bioshock. lets be clear. - THIS IS NOT BIOSHOCK. this is resident evil 4 by a mile between the two games. the problem with that is that the ishimura has no character, if you go in expecting rapture type world that's full of character you in for a disappointment. instead you get something more akin to the mars base from doom 3. 
-anyway I'm going off on a tangent here, but the point is, rapture felt like it had a history, like you'd joined a game halfway through the worlds narrative. but in dead space all you've got is a blue line leading you in form an airlock to set pieces which seem to have been waiting for you.
Which neat leads me to the fact that this is not open ended, its funneling you down a path half life 2 style. only with back tracking for the final 3rd. it lacks character, you go here, do something, get told to go to the next point and follow the path. Which is lame but how its done is neat. issac uses , when clicking the right thumbstick, a hologram that beams along the ground to your next destination. in theory its really disappointing but its cool and different.
Speaking of which. theres no hud, well there is, but it not in your face. issacs spine is his hp bar, he gets a holographic inventory and display above weapons for ammo. its real time and immersive but unlike alone in the dark its not adding to the fear its just a neat factor. 
overall i got used to the hud instantly, you can still pause, but it just feels like an interactive movie at some points.
only trouble is its less aliens and more jason x.

to sum up the controls its responsive and easy to use, but its overcomplicated by combos. left trigger plus x is stasis freeze, x alone is health packs, which is a poor choice when you might need to freeze a fast enemy, and use your last health pack by mistake and then get badly hurt because you didn't freeze it in time and have no health pack.
However, i can ignore most faults because of the dismemberment system, i got used to so much shooting out legs and arms off that i tried another game in the same vein and kept missing headshots because i aimed for the joints.
its fun, but its never implemented any more than you see in the first fight and it had more potential i think.
You can also upgrade weapons with a system reminiscent of the sphere grid from final fantasy x. you gain power cores across grids to upgrade the powers of your suits and weapons. its a nice touch but unlike resi 4 you may have to level up two blank spaces before you can gain any actual power ups.

Graphics wise space is beautiful. an orange ether permeates the sky and rainstorms of meteors flow past like a stream. However inside its, well, like i said, its doom 3 all over again. its not very easy on the eyes, theres jagged edges were there should be smooth surfaces, edges are grainy and cloudy and the colour pallet was uninspired. Again I'm going to compare it to rapture, but also the starting areas of resident evil 4, either Spanish woodlands or the art deco of fort frolic and its just bland in comparison to either. the game lacks character. the hero is iconic, but the levels and creatures leave a lot to be desired. it never detracts from the gameplay though, i had a blast. but in retrospect i think "yeah, at the time i didnt notice it but-", and im getting this a lot as i write this review. i enjoyed myself, but i can pick so many nits with this game. though possibly i am just being biased due to my poor previous experiences with ea?

Sound wise i was really disappointed, its poor and buggy and all in all annoying at times. there can be a creature in the next room but its so close to the door that tension building music is playing. but i would just be browsing the wares in the store and i noticed that after 30 seconds it stops instantly and then restarts. i cant think of that many items but i can say that its barely even ambiance, they couldn't feasibly release a soundtrack to this like obscure or alone in the dark.


i could go on about the factors that bugged me, but these faults, though they number in the good dozen or so, never mess with the experience, because honestly its the scariest game Ive played in a long  long time. which surprised me. though like many games this does lessen as the game goes on but all in all i enjoyed it, it inst very good in the grand scheme of things but for 10 hours of horror gameplay id say its worth a rental but a full purchase buy?..... maybe, for once I'm indecisive, some of you will love it and disagree with me, saying I'm too harsh, others will hate it and say I'm too lenient but id say give it a try.

on one hand you will have a great time, on the other you will not care about it at all 1 year from now.

so i give it a loose-

SCORE: [6/10]

SCARE FACTOR: [8/10]

3 comments:

Karamashi said...

I received the game today, and I played it for five hours straight. I'm enjoying the game and think its a fine game even with a-lot of problems I had with it. First, I actually didn't think it felt like RE4 and its easy to say its an RE4 clone like Crackdown was a GTA clone but I wouldn't consider it a complete clone. What I hate is how cliche the story and game structure is. Go here, do this, "OH NOES" moments to many to late. Also, we were right a few months back my friend, this game is definitely ACTION/HORROR. So, thankfully I rented the game on gamefly but I consider it far from a bad game, in fact I think its quite good for what it does. I thank god for its beautiful graphics as well considering SH:H an eye-sore to look at. So yeah, hopefully the game picks up with its story but I doubt it. Also, The Dead Space animated film Downfall was dreadful. It was a poor excuse for any sort of compilation for the game.Just on all levels awful.

Danny said...

well i try not to spoil the story in my reviews, i go for more of a general vibe i get form the experience but a week on id say , i didn't see the twist coming but to be honest. its generic. alright.


in summation, its an E.A game, nothing more, nothing less.

Karamashi said...

So I finished the game and well... I agree with you a lot more then I did. But man did I end up really not liking it more then I thought I would have. Really, I'm not all that disappointed becuase I wasn't expecting all that much but yeah the game truly is an exercise in scapegoating the fact it steals lots from RE4. It IS an E.A Game like you said.