Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Game Review: Dead Space

Dead Space was originally recommended to me by a few friends and commentors on this blog. To them, I apologize in advance.

In this game you play as Isaac Clarke, an engineer who is part of an emergency repair team sent to respond to a distress call from the USG Ishimura. They find the ship adrift in space with no lights and no communication chatter. Deciding initially that nothing is suspicious (yeah, these people are morons by the way) they board the Ishimura and find it overrun by zombies and horrible mutants. Isaac’s girlfriend, Nicole, is also on board the ship, so he desperately tries to find her.

The plot in this game is both predictable and a blatant rip-off from System Shock, Doom, and Event Horizon. If I outline every example this would be a long blog. However, here are a few examples:

1) Crew of a spaceship gets slaughtered and comes back as a monster: System Shock and Doom.

2) Someone in authority thinks that it’s a really awesome idea to come back as a monster and starts killing his fellow shipmates to prepare for the new apocalypse: System Shock

3) Alien Artifact found on another world which is the cause of this whole mess: Doom

4) Main character pining for a lost love who acts spooky: Event Horizon

The characters in this game are very one-dimensional. We have a token black military guy and a screaming scientist chick, and due to the dreaded plot convenience of doors locking behind the player, these characters are usually out of the picture. Not only that, but at times the characters suffer from a serious amount of brain damage. For example, in the beginning Nicole does manage to send a goodbye message to Isaac. She also neglects to tell him why she’s saying goodbye or that there are monsters on board the ship and maybe Isaac should bring a gun if he’s planning a quick visit. We also do get a bit of a backstory with the crew of the USG Ishimura through video diaries (again, no System Shock or Doom ripoffs at all in this game) but it's so fragmented that I really didn't care.

Which leaves of with the main character, Isaac, a person who has no personality at all. Most of this is due to the fact that he is a silent protagonist throughout the entire game. We do know that he has a dorky helmet that no one else has to wear, he follows orders blindly from both his supervisors and insane people alike, and he’s an unstoppable killing machine. This single man can do what three well-trained security squads on three different ships can’t do! Seriously, our government should cancel the military budget. If they want world peace, start investing in those mechanical engineers!

The only redeeming quality is the gameplay which is both fun and maddenly hard at the same time. I hope you like dying, because no matter how much ammo and health you carry, you will end up dying in every second room you’re in. And that’s just on the normal setting. Why? Well, usually because waves of monsters will come at you out from nowhere, and almost all the time they jump out of vents from behind the player. While the inventory system is pretty clumsy, the zero-G levels of the game are both visually impressive and well designed. I also liked the little glowing line that tells me where to go. Because, you know, I can’t read a map and I’m too proud to ask the mutant-zombie hoard for directions.

FINAL GRADE: 2 ½ out of 5-a good game if you want challenging gameplay, but don’t expect them to make a movie out of this crap.

Coming soon-Dead Space the Movie review. Wait…what?

1 comment:

Yogurt said...

I think you've hit upon a rather interesting trend in modern games:

Nerds as unstoppable Ubermench

Gone are the days of space marines and soap opera watching, one liner dropping, misogynists (before anyone asks, yes, that is actually Duke Nukem's origin).

We have:

A physicist brutalizing legions of special forces operatives, alien shock troopers, and gas mask wearing authority figures with a crowbar.

A mechanical engineer ripping apart legions of mutant beasties with industrial cutting equipment.

and now with Alan Wake, we have a writer of schlock mystery stories as the first, last and only line of defense against the legions of darkness.

Now all we need is someone to make a game where a Mental Health Counselor goes around body slamming grizzly bears that breathe atomic fire and we'll finally have complete nerd domination (not to mention FINALLY having a hero in my profession)!