Game Play (5 out of 5)
In Dead Space, you play Isaac Clark, an engineer who becomes separated from the rest of his crew after crash landing on the derelict ship, the USG Ishimura. It becomes apparent that the USG personnel are missing and you need to find out what happened.
The game is action-packed from the start. Isaac encounters monsters who can adapt to weapons and attack methods. In the beginning, you have no weapons available and must use creative ways to defeat them. Combat actions are fairly basic, with one to two button combinations. You can fire a weapon, swipe at your enemies with your weapon or arm, or use your foot to crush and dismember them. As you explore, other useful hand held items will become available that have special abilities. The “stasis” device will allow you to slow items down temporarily, while the “kinesis” device gives you the ability to move objects.
You may need a Dead Space walkthrough to survive this game. This Xbox 360 gem is divided into chapters, each with several missions to complete. You move about in a three-person view which makes it easier to explore your surroundings. As you go along, you are in constant contact with the other members of your crew who give you information and tasks to complete. Exploring the ship you can find weapons, ammunition, credits (money) and med kits. To help guide you, a three-dimensional map is available for you to view at any time. It also shows key locations that can be zoomed in on, like saving points, upgrade areas and the occasional store where you can buy items.
The Dead Space game has some RPG elements by allowing you to upgrade through a hand circuit repair “bench”. These include increasing your hit points on your rig (body suit), damage and ammunition capacity of your weapons and strengthening the abilities other useful modules (like Kinesis and Stasis). Like RPG games, you will need certain upgrades before you can access other higher level skills. To upgrade, you need to gather power nodes (found through exploration of the ship) that are used to activate electric circuits needed to improve any of these items.
Graphics and Sound (5 out of 5)
The graphic quality in Dead Space is superb. Each area of the game appears to be crafted with extreme detail. Every enemy encounter is brutal with lots of blood, guts and dismembered body parts. The equipment you use, including the map, inventory and communications appears in a 3D hologram-like display that can be viewed from multiple angles. Interacting with other items and equipment is easy to use with most being self explanatory in nature. The ship itself varies in lighting conditions from extreme darkness to flickering brightly lit areas.
All sounds, music and voice communication are all appropriate for this Xbox 360 horror fest game. One minute, some soft elevator music plays, lulling you into a false sense of security. Then suddenly, harsh loud tones and riffs play which gives you an uncomfortable and uneasy feeling. As monsters approach, you may hear scattering sounds in the background, disgusting squishy noises or even creepy voices, grunts and growls.
Should you Buy It? (5 out of 5)
As you play the Dead Space game, you realize that its story is deeply engrossing and full of twists and turns. The level of difficulty also increases as you will need to change your combat strategy. It is an ideal game for the action game fan, since it has enough depth and diversity to keep you interested for many hours (but you may need a Dead Space walkthrough to survive). The sharp graphic detail, sounds and fairly simple button controls make it enjoyable to play without a large learning curve. However, this Xbox 360 title may not be the best game for younger gamers due to its high level of blood and gore.