During the Dead Space review for the PS3, the various gameplay elements are mentioned and as it’s in the survival horror genre like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, how it compares to them will be referenced. The game also plays more similarly to Resident Evil 4 and 5, rather than the first few Resident Evil games.
The Story (4 out of 5)
Dead Space has a pretty good story for a survival horror game, though the game goes the route of having the main character a mute. You play as Isaac Clarke who is a crew member aboard the USG Kellion. The Kellion is on its way to the Ishimura, a mining vessel, in order to investigate why a distress signal was sent. However, things go wrong and Isaac Clarke searches for his girlfriend aboard the space ship while fending off hordes of Necromorphs. The story involves a cult and an artifact that was recovered from the surface called the Marker.
All in all, the story is pretty good.
The Gameplay (4 out of 5)
If you’ve played Resident Evil 4 or 5, then you’ll feel right at home when you sit down to play Dead Space. However, there are some changes, so it’s not entirely the same. First though, how does the game play for people who may not have tried Resident Evil 4 and 5?
The game sees you move Isaac Clarke around the Ishimura with the left analog stick, while the right analog stick controls the camera and weapon aiming. During the game, Necromorphs will attack your character and to combat them, you have various tools/weapons at your disposal. One difference from Resident Evil is that you need to aim for the creature’s limbs to dismember them. Another difference is that you can actually move and fire at the same time, which is great.
The upgrade system from Resident Evil 4 and 5 is also present, though it’s slightly different. Essentially, you can buy nodes or find them and then place them in various places on a circuit like interface, with some of the places giving bonuses to the weapon in question. The nodes can’t just be placed anywhere either, as they need to be placed next to another one and there are normally several upgrade paths available. Also, credits can be used to buy items such as ammo.
Another difference from Resident Evil is the inclusion of zero gravity sections, where you can jump all over the place and enemies/items float in the air. It’s not great, but it’s not bad either. They don’t come along very often either.
The Game Graphics and Sound (4 out of 5)
The game’s graphics are really pretty good, though with the game being released in 2008, they’re not the best on the market. Still, they more than hold their own against the graphics featured in other games, combining with the game’s sound to create a truly remarkable atmosphere. In fact, one of the early sections sees Isaac sta
nding on a platform that moves across a wide open space with a massive drop (into some black void) and plenty of smoke lingering around the area.
Accompanying the graphics in creating a great horror atmosphere is the sound work, which is great. In fact, it perhaps adds more to the atmosphere than the actual graphics. As Isaac walks down the corridors of the Ishimura, sounds will be heard and they won’t always be made by Necromorphs that are nearby. You’ll hear the ship creaking and hear bangs away from where you are. If you wear a headset as well, you’ll get the full aural experience of the game.
General Playability and Presentation (4 out of 5)
The game itself controls very well honestly. If you’ve played other survival horror games such as Resident Evil, the game will most likely feel like a marked improvement. This is largely down to the fact that your character can move while aiming and shooting, as mentioned in the gameplay section of the Dead Space review. Using powers such as kinesis and stasis is easy as well, just like accessing your inventory is. The downside is that while the Zero-G sections are largely fine, they could have been improved more (as evidenced with the upcoming release of Dead Space 2) in terms of controls etc. The game also uses a unique way to show you where to go to your objectives. By clicking the right analog stick, you’ll see a line appear on the screen showing the direction to head in. It works fine, but it could again be improved on.
Apart from the above though, the game has really high presentation values and it is easy to play, while not being filled with bugs.
Overall (4 out of 5)
So, this brings us to the question of ‘is Dead Space any good?’
The answer is a definite yes, but it might not satisfy horror fans who enjoy being scared. The game undoubtedly sets out to scare people, but most of the frights tend to be limited to ‘boo scares’ more than anything else. This means that once you get used to the game, you can get used to how the game likes to scare you. Besides, you can also buy ammo and medical supplies to help with combatting the Necromorph threat and because you always have the tools to dispose of enemies, it lessens the impact of the game’s horror in the fright department.
However, with that said, it is still one of (if not the) best survival horror games released over the course of the last few years. It does compare nicely with the Resident Evil games. That is of course referring to the older games rather than Resident Evil 5, as that’s nothing more than an action game. However, the really scary stuff in the genre is left to the likes of Silent Hill and other games, such as the Penumbra series and Amnesia: The Dark Descent for the PC. Still, it does present scares but it’ll most likely only affect people who are easily scared.
Even if you’re looking for scares but still enjoy action games, it’s still worth a look at in all honesty. Obviously, the action is not up there with the likes of Modern Warfare, but it’s still good.
Links to Articles of Interest
Below are some articles that may be of interest:
Dead Space Xbox 360 achievement guide (should also apply to trophies for the PS3 version)