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AusGamers Game of the Year Contender
Dead Space
Dead Space

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: Action Players: 1 (2 Online)
Developer: Electronic Arts Official Site: http://deadspace.ea.com/
Publisher: Electronic Arts Classification: TBC
Dead Space

Genre: Action
Players: 1 (2 Online)
Developer: Electronic Arts
Official Site: http://deadspace.ea.c...
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Classification: TBC
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Dead Space Review
Review By @ 03:18pm 29/10/08
XBOX360
It's an odd observation, but at gaming's current point, it's difficult to find a solid, stand-alone single-player experience.

Since the overwhelming success of the Wii and a subsequent boom in social gaming (not to mention the continued growth and strength of MMOs), pretty much every gaming experience now comes with some form of social or multiplayer functionality. Even Fable II, a game you would normally consider a single-player romp has its own spin on the social aspect, and if it's not an invite to other players to see your single-player world, then it's an invite to other players to rock frag grenades with you across supplied or created multiplayer maps (as is the case with Far Cry 2, for example).

It's definitely awesome to see that we've reached a point where videogames are no longer anti-social in standing (overzealous parents can't tell you to go out and 'make some friends' anymore), but there's also something to be said about a solid solitary gaming experience; something only you sink your teeth into - an experience where game-world and player combine to become a single entity. And through the aforementioned advent and growth of social gaming it seems as though this experienced is fast becoming the dinosaur of gaming. Thankfully EA Redwood's Dead Space is here to remind us all just how good it can be to piss your friends off for a night of lone time - just you and your game.



Dead Space is a game that wears its collective heart on its sleeve. I say "collective" because the game borrows successful elements very heavily from a number of Triple A titles, but I say "heart" (with emphasis on the singular) because these borrowed elements coalesce to form a perfectly functional foundation; evolved from the collectively borrowed gameplay instruments of its more-than-obvious source material.

In short, while not 100% original, Dead Space offers up one of the most solid gaming experiences I've had in a long time, and it does so because it's not afraid to take the best elements from great games and make them work - equally well - as a single entity.

You play through Dead Space as a hapless technician by the name of Isaac Clarke (see, heart on their sleeves). You and a team of rescuers are headed toward the Planet Cracker Class Mining Starship, USG Ishimura, after losing all communications with the vessel for no apparent reason.

No one is answering your calls, and the ship looks to be completely powerless. Adrift and ominously dark, you and your team need to get onboard the Ishimura, assess the situation and restore the ship to working status - a simple enough task for the average space engineer, right? Wrong.

As with all great horror and sci fi, anything that can go wrong does, and everything you thought you knew is very much a lie. There's no room for spoilers here, because unfolding the story is as compelling as just trying to stay alive, and Dead Space kicks things off real early in that department.

In fact, even after a pretty dodgy docking with the adrift mining vessel, you're thrown into the thick of it; separated from the rest of your team, only to watch them fight for their own survival through impenetrable glass when the real shit hits the fan (not that you'd be trying to get in there and save them at this point; you're as lost and confused as they are).

But even after seeing the initial horror from the safety of where you triggered the event a sense of ubiquitous dread kicks in, and you'll feel that cold sinking thing hit your stomach. And it's from this point on - no more than five minutes into the game - Dead Space and its ever-present fear and trepidation set out to never once let up.

While the horror element is very cool, it's still nothing we haven't ultimately seen before: A lone warrior fighting off hordes of insane, unintelligible monsters/aliens with nothing ever going in his favour until the bitter end. And at its core, this is pretty much what Dead Space is. But it does so much to engage the player in this cliche (beyond simply scaring the pants off you), that it's really difficult to ignore.

(That is until you face intense moments of true terror and heart-pounding relentless action, of which there are many, and so often require a breather).



To begin with, the universe EA Redwood have crafted here is totally functional. Everything serves a logical purpose, and you'll find even the weight and movement of Isaac as one of the most refreshing things you've experienced in third-person gaming in a long while. He moves with deliberation, ever-crouching because of the weight of his suit (transferred to you, the player, with perfection) while his transitional animations and their various trees are uber-realistic. It's a hyper-real world with true-to-life components that hold it together.

Mechanisms in the game look like they're doing the right thing, and elements such as moving through a Zero G environment or dealing with a vacuum is handled with scientific applaud. All of this helps extend the suspension of disbelief and adds to the overall immersion of the game (a must for anything labeled "horror").

This is also where the borrowed gameplay elements I mentioned earlier come in. If you could take the best of Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime and BioShock and combine them all into a single package with pure unification, you would end up with Dead Space.

The third-person camera system borrows heavily from Resident Evil 4, but also expands upon it. You're not playing with a first-person view, but the way the camera works feels close to that experience in that you have a pretty good amount of peripheral to utilise. Moreover Isaac, no matter where you swing the game's camera to, is always off-centre; never once obstructing the overall view, yet he constantly remains a centerpiece regardless.

Progression through the game is almost entirely aboard the Ishimura. You'll come across locked doors and obstructed paths you know will become available to you later in the game with new weapons and abilities (ala the likes of Metroid or BioShock), and the overall pacing of this is handled to utter perfection.

Unlike the Resident Evil series, there's almost never a moment you feel safe in Dead Space. There's no "save room" with enchanting calm music to ease your nerves, and enemies don't predictably respawn; you may very well walk through corridor after corridor without a single confrontation, yet moments later face enemy after enemy in unbelievably unpredictable patterns. The Necromorphs will literally come at you, any time, without abandon. And while there are certainly many scripted moments and events throughout the game, the AI for these monstrosities is such you never face them the same way twice. They react differently each time which not only keeps you on your toes, but reminds you the severe lack of powerful weapons at your disposal is something that has to change quickly.



In this respect Dead Space again borrows very heavily from Resident Evil 4, as well as BioShock. Throughout the game you'll find Credits, Semi-Conductors (like Treasure in RE4), as well as other pick-ups alongside the very sought after Nodes. You can then visit the game's Store and buy/sell items with your accrued Credits. On offer are more powerful weapons, health, air canisters and more. You'll also uncover schematics for newer items that become available next time you hit the store. Nodes are used to upgrade your weapons and your Rig (your suit), and you can buy different levels of suit with varying enhancements (more item slots, health, oxygen etc) to combat the cold harshness of space and its seemingly unending population of mutated murderous alien denizens.

What's equally compelling about combating the aforementioned murderous mutated aliens is you're not always doing it in science labs, the medical bay or engine rooms. There's a fair amount of Zero-G exploration, puzzle-solving and combat as well as some memorable moments out in space, walking across the Ishimura's hull, avoiding asteroid bombardments and creepy Necromorphs who apparently don't need oxygen to survive. On top of just being cool breaks from corridor gaming, small things like not being able to hear anything out in space barring personal sounds from within your rig (your breathing, echoes of your footsteps), just make the game that much more enjoyable to experience.

Moreover, dealing with the fact there really is no up or down in Zero-G is tough enough as it is, but having to do so while avoiding/fighting Necromorphs is damn well insane (and difficult to initially get a grasp on).

The physics for moments and areas like this are awesome. You can shoot something in Zero-G and watch it move along the correct path. It would have been cool if you fling yourself backwards, aim in another direction mid-flight then change course through the weapon recoil, but maybe we'll see this for the next game (if there is one, and here's hoping there is).

It's the truly realistic components (all of which are small in singularity, but combine in force), that make the game though. One of the stand-out examples is in interacting with the game-world. Most games, when having to do this, force you to drop your guard and perform said interaction. Dead Space, however, allows you to maintain a steady, ready aim (for the expected monster attack, which could come at any time) while working with various components such as picking up items, opening lockers and doors and interacting with computers and ship mechanisms. It also helps that the lighting throughout the game is almost non-existent (in an awesome atmospheric way), and that your weapons are essentially your only direct light-source, so taking that from you would have just been plain mean.

Adding to the immersive nature of the game comes its lack of a HUD (heads up display).



This is all handled in-game in keeping with the overall logical functionality of the game-world. Instead of having a health bar obstructing your view in 2D splattered somewhere on the screen, it is represented as part of your actual Rig. Your weapons have ammunition counters physically attached, so you always know what you have in store (which, if you play the game on Hard is usually very little, all the time). In fact everything you would need to know/see in terms of managing your game and character is seamlessly integrated into the actual game. One of the most impressive of which is your Inventory/Map/Objectives screen.

All of this, including the likes of audio and video logs found throughout the game to flesh out the story, is represented as visual displays projected in front of Isaac, all with a massive emphasis on being not only believable, but aesthetic, atmospheric and informative. It's a balance that works incredibly well, and one you'll find in few other games of this (or any other) nature.

So moving the camera around Isaac while one of these system is open reveals they are in place in full 3D and a true part of the game-world. It's among the first of its kind, and a gameplay innovation I hope many other games take onboard. Which brings me to the visuals.

Dead Space is absolutely gorgeous. Beyond the incredible animations, the sensation of playing as Isaac, the functional and reactive game-world and the imaginative beasties, there's the ship design, space stuff and overall presentation - it all just screams next-gen.

Lighting here is among the best yet seen in videogames, and works in perfect conjunction with the game's narrative foundation (and just scaring the absolute shit out of you). Enemies are creepy as all hell, while NPCs (of which there are a few), all react and move with the same deliberation as Isaac. EA Redwood have worked tirelessly to craft one of the most believable monster-hunting environments ever presented in the survival horror genre.

And that's exactly what it is. Dead Space is the future of the survival horror game, and while I was very much looking forward to Resident Evil 5, I truly think its throwback design to Resident Evil 4 is going to keep it just under this amazing title; which while borrowing so much from so many great game, works diligently to not only advance the borrowed features, but create an experience with absolute synergy and forethought. No one element absolutely stands out over another, and as such you'll feel Dead Space is that rare breed of game (in this day and age) that doesn't feel rushed, but instead wholly realised. The only thing I can see turning people away from this is if you don't like sci fi, horror or single-player games.
AusGamers Game of the Year Contender
WHAT WE LIKED
Logical and realised game-world
Amazing visuals
Sound that will keep you freaked until the very end
Working with Isaac is unlike any other 3rd-person game
Innovative HUD keeps the player more than immersed
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE
Single-player only (which some people might not like)
Somewhat cliched in foundation (but awesome nonetheless)
MORE...
WE GAVE IT:
9.5
OUT OF 10
AusGamers
Latest Comments
nF
Posted 04:38pm 31/10/08
Out of curiosity, how did you justify the 90% review for Far Cry 2?

The game was f*****g terrible.
reso
Posted 04:38pm 31/10/08
I liked Far Cry 2?????? Liking this (Dead Space) as well!
Steve Farrelly
Posted 04:41pm 31/10/08
I judged that based on replayability, user-generated content potential and I actually enjoyed the game. It looks great, feels pretty solid and has heaps of love injected into it. Equally it has given gamers a massive amount of freedom in the decisions they make.

Not everyone is always going to agree with our reviews...
nF
Posted 04:51pm 31/10/08
Replayability?

It feels like you're replaying the same mission every time. Drive, shoot your way through a check point. Drive.

They tried to make it non-linear and made it completely unimmersive. The AI is terrible. Playing the game all the way to completion would be a challenge of endurance rather than skill. Its tedious.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 04:53pm 31/10/08
there's multiplayer, a map-editor and map sharing community and planned DLC - that's what I mean by replayability.


Agree to disagree
Crakaveli
Posted 05:29pm 31/10/08
You tell him nf.
Strik3r
Posted 05:32pm 31/10/08
im not enjoying the single player far cry 2 atm..... I'll give it a bit more time, but im pretty bored with it already. time will tell if the multi player is any good.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 05:53pm 31/10/08
At any rate, this comments section is for dead space...
Reverend Evil
Posted 06:12pm 31/10/08
I've given up trying to play this on PC. Controls are s***, the camera angle is retarded and the guy moves like ass. Graphics were nice though.
Spook
Posted 06:44pm 31/10/08
I've given up trying to play this on PC. Controls are s***, the camera angle is retarded and the guy moves like ass. Graphics were nice though.


dunno what you are talking about rev;

plays awesome:

old mate at work was complaining about the third person view, but didnt bother me any;

great visuals, great sound, controls work well (once you get used to em)

im loving it atm;
Steve Farrelly
Posted 07:13pm 31/10/08
nf, actually I DID play multi, but given I had the game earlier than the public I was playing maps with one or two other people in them, who happened to be other journalists. And I didn't rate the review based on those factors alone. If you'd read the review, you'd know what I liked about it.

I said it way earlier, not everyone is going to agree with our reviews, so don't sit in here and flame my every response. Sorry you hate the game. I liked it for various reasons as many others do. Hope you find a game you like...

PS, I'm enjoying the multiplayer a lot since then...
Boxhead
Posted 07:17pm 31/10/08
instead of looking for everything wrong with games maybe you should weigh up BOTH the pros and cons,instead of blasting all the negatives in them.
I think its fair to demand better...
TicMan
Posted 07:19pm 31/10/08
Good review Steve, but more to the point - congrats on the avatar fixing (Y)
Steve Farrelly
Posted 07:43pm 31/10/08
Boxhead, not sure why, but it just started working for some reason. Of course, I'm glad about that

TicMan
Posted 07:44pm 31/10/08
Oh man - you called me Boxhead :(
Boxhead
Posted 07:46pm 31/10/08
Prolly the highest honour you could possibly achieve... ever... :p
Midda
Posted 07:46pm 31/10/08
Dead Space is rad. I'm enjoying it.

And I watched my mate play Far Cry 2 multiplayer last weekend. Holy s***, did it look f*****g lame.
Saint
Posted 07:56pm 31/10/08
Dead space review thread, please keep it on topic :)
Methz
Posted 08:07pm 31/10/08
Dead space review thread, please keep it on topic


True that. I found the game to be a tad close quarters for my taste,but all in all the atmosphere and innovative hud system made for a pretty spooky and enthralling game.
I'm hoping RE5 will come up with a similar approach.
and taking limbs off is so fun :D
TicMan
Posted 08:12pm 31/10/08
I think Dead Space is better than FarCry 2 .. nF - what are your thoughts?
Steve Farrelly
Posted 08:19pm 31/10/08
TicMan, apologies... I have teh drinkz in me
Spook
Posted 08:33pm 31/10/08
dont we all?
Tollaz0r!
Posted 09:07pm 31/10/08
I really liked Dead Space. I found the controls and camera angle dodgy at first. It quickly proved to be functional and even required.
Pharcyde
Posted 10:50pm 31/10/08
* N U K E D *

By Saint


I love it when when once every 3-4 weeks, an admin decides to moderate this forum. It usually ends up in 1-2 threads full of nukes, and then the forum just turns back into it's usual spam/flame-fest self.

This game is awesome so far. Creepy as f***.
sLaps_Forehead
Posted 10:53pm 31/10/08
I like you better when you are drunk Steve. ;)
Khel
Posted 11:53pm 31/10/08
I dunno, I don't find it all that creepy. Awesome atmosphere, don't get me wrong, and I love the game, but it doesn't really creep me out the way something like Silent Hill 2 did. I do love the atmosphere though, and I love the environments, they're so gritty and dirty and its not like some Star Trek spaceship where everything is clean and quiet and machines are sleek and move silently and smoothly. S*** is rough and beat up and doors grind open and its all function over form. Good s***.

Fantastic game if Steve's not gonna call it, I'm definitely saying contender for game of the year :P
Steve Farrelly
Posted 01:07am 01/11/08
But I thought I did call it...
DM
Posted 03:34am 01/11/08
I'm enjoying the game as I find the Event Horizon/Aliens/The Thing sorta deal really awesome and pretty well done. What REALLY f*****g s**** me though is when i'm trying to change a setting and you have the gay ass 1 second lag on the mouse. WHY? What jack-off thought this would be a good idea? That aside, it's like an orgy of games the past 2 weeks. Farcry 2, Fallout 3, Dead Space, Red Alert 3... and every f*****g game (cept Fallout 3) has the unskippable EA logo movie bulls***.

Random, totally unrelated info to thread: Red Alert 3 wins huge points for having Hell March for the 3rd time as the intro music. What would Red Alert be without that song? It would be like "The Unforgiven" songs by Metallica starting without that horn at the start... oh wait

last edited by DM at 03:34:50 01/Nov/08
Spook
Posted 07:26am 01/11/08
i dont have any mouse button lag
Tollaz0r!
Posted 08:40am 01/11/08
Same.

I'm pretty sure the mouse processing is tied to the CPU, so if your maxing your CPU your mouse will lag.

At least that is my thinking when games like Far Cry 2 give me mouse lag. I down the CPU intensive stuff a little and it fixes the mouse lag right up with only a slight increase in FPS (my Graphics card bottle necks my PC).
Strik3r
Posted 08:43am 01/11/08
I'm enjoying the game as I find the Event Horizon/Aliens/The Thing sorta deal really awesome and pretty well done. What REALLY f*****g s**** me though is when i'm trying to change a setting and you have the gay ass 1 second lag on the mouse. WHY? What jack-off thought this would be a good idea? That aside, it's like an orgy of games the past 2 weeks. Farcry 2, Fallout 3, Dead Space, Red Alert 3... and every f*****g game (cept Fallout 3) has the unskippable EA logo movie bulls***.


I had this when I first launched the game. Massive mouse lag in the menu. As soon as I changed the resolution from the default crappy 765*512 or whatever crap it is, to 1280*960 it worked perfectly.
Spook
Posted 08:56am 01/11/08
ah yer striker, thats right;

at the default res it was laggy, soon as i set it to 1680x1050, all good;
groganus
Posted 10:34am 01/11/08
and I love the environments, they're so gritty and dirty and its not like some Star Trek spaceship where everything is clean and quiet and machines are sleek and move silently and smoothly. S*** is rough and beat up and doors grind open and its all function over form. Good s***.


old space ships due for retirement are the best setting for any sci fi game!

this game became a 10 for me when i watched the animated feature movie that tells the story of the events that occured on the ship before you arrived. it added another level of fear, each time i had to go to a new area id be like "OH F***, I KNOW WHAT HAPPEND THERE AND ITS NOT GOOOD!(@%&@(%&" cant say it ruined the games storyline.. infact they worked really really well together.

ive also gotta say holding your hand out over the floor and projecting a hologram of where you have to go is the coolest f*****g thing ever.

DM
Posted 03:48pm 01/11/08
As it turns out, turning off vsync, which I didn't know was on, totaly got rid of the mouse lag I had. Awesome. I'm playing this in little installments at a time. 30 min here, an hour there. I'll get around to finishing it eventually
Snakeman
Posted 09:57pm 01/11/08
It seems like a sweet storyline and the graphics are insane but the controls are just f***ed. I It wont even let me use my logitech gamepad ffs.
Spook
Posted 09:59am 02/11/08
i think the problem there snakeman is the logitech pad;

ive thrown mine out, because it wouldnt work propperly with so many games

bought a $9 dualshock knock off that runs with whatever drivers (vista found them) and all games work perfectly

i was sick to death of weird s*** going on with my control pad, so its gawn

ps, ud wanna be playing this with mouse and keyboard anyway;
Snakeman
Posted 12:26pm 02/11/08
^^^ Yeh dude, I only got the Logitech for Lego Batman and Indy. I'm just not enjoying this as much and any other game even though I know its an awsem game I'm just frustrated with the setup.
Spook
Posted 12:44pm 02/11/08
persevere with mouse and keyboard, controls are a little weird at first, in no time at all they feel natural
Steve Farrelly
Posted 12:59pm 02/11/08
works perfectly on 360 :P
Spook
Posted 01:26pm 02/11/08
with a mouse and keyboard?
orbitor
Posted 06:30pm 02/11/08
don't need mouse/kb for a 3rd person game.
Bah
Posted 06:34pm 02/11/08
Yeah because there is a huge difference between first and third person...i mean in third person they draw your player character on your screen... and then there's .... err...
Spook
Posted 07:02pm 02/11/08
don't need mouse/kb for a 3rd person game.


dont need em for a fps either

but i sure know which control method id prefer
greazy
Posted 07:34pm 02/11/08
what do you guys do with the review games that get sent out to you? Return them?
Tollaz0r!
Posted 07:58pm 02/11/08
They play them then lock them in the QGL Phat Lewts vault.
groganus
Posted 12:39am 03/11/08
They play them then lock them in the QGL Phat Lewts vault.


imagine scrooge mcducks vault from ducktales!

Nathan
Posted 09:26am 03/11/08
Definitely not game of the year contender for me, but I think its a solid 8/10. I played 360 version.

Initially I was constantly trying to move the camera to see past my guy in the way, but eventually I realised that when you have the trigger held down for aiming, your character is moved to the left so you can directly forwards which makes the third person thing fine.

I found it really creepy for first 5 or 6 chapters; I could only play one chapter at a time. As the game progresses and I learned the game's internal design mechanics it becomes less scary, although there's still the occasional "open a door to an area you were in previously to find a monster right in your face".

Personally I found some of the scripted sequences like that a bit creepier though, you'll open a door and see a monster walk off; sometimes he wouldnt re-appear. Or you hear scratching noises or whatever, and again there's no monster. Its things like that where they try change the audio/visual queues from "you WILL be attacked" to "you MIGHT be attacked" which keep you a bit on edge.

Dismembering is fun, enemy variety is probably a bit lacking. The mini-game 'shoot the asteroids' is tedious on a 360 controller. I think the general story is really quite interesting, but the mechanics of why you go to all the different places on the ship feel a little contrived.
Hyperslide
Posted 01:33pm 06/11/08
For me this is the BEST game I have played this year. Scared me , Thrilled me, Visually Stunning, etc etc

I never saw a glitch , tear, Drop in framerate etc

and I LOVE the story, but then there is still a few months to go b4 the year is over and some BIG games coming
ChocolateMuffin
Posted 06:47pm 23/11/08
Awesome game. But stuck on Chapter 4 objective to overide power system (have done 2 out of 3) cannot get into the elevator!
Spook
Posted 08:35pm 23/11/08
um, i cant remember back that far, but there wasnt much too the earlier chapters

ive just been following the tracks on my map and its all been working out ok

im doing chapter 9 atm, still think this is one of the best put together games ive ever played, no bugs, no crashes, quality finish;

very impressed;
Articuz
Posted 10:34am 24/11/08
sooo... how is everyone finding the 3rd person view?
Spook
Posted 11:33am 23/12/08
finished this game this morning

EXCELLENT

probably the most professional pc game ive ever played, never saw a drop in frame rates, quality production values, great sound and atmosphere

half tempted to play it again!
Thundercracker
Posted 11:36am 23/12/08
isaac make me some pasta isaac
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