Dead Space

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I would start this by saying that I really enjoyed playing Dead Space. It reminded me about Bioshock, Metroid Prime 3 and Resident Evil 4 and the things I have to complain about are more relevant to a larger discussion about games, commercialism and artistry than they are about the game itself.

For a game that is new in so many ways, Dead Space leaves a nagging feeling that it’s playing it safe. Sure, the premise of the game – having (essentially) Resident Evil play out in a System Shock-setting and basing the gameplay around slicing off monsters’ limbs in order to impede their progress hasn’t really been done before, and the outer space-related challenges such as zero-gravity or vacuum have been implemented with finesse for a gameplay that mixes things up without feeling out of place. Problem is, it really comes off as a bulleted list of these features tacked onto someone’s perception of a Bioshock/Resident Evil 4 hybrid and while the sections of funky gameplay are nice they are just that – walled-in sections in a game that knows exactly where it’s coming from.

This applies to the story as well. The background story is rather extensive and there are both clever allusions and political commentary in it, but the plot in the actual game is predictable down to every twist and it is difficult to sympathize with your generic horror movie victims. The biggest problem I had with it was with the protagnist Isaac Clarke though – there seems to have been some decision to make him into a silent protagonist. This is perfectly fine if you center the story around something other than the player – good even, because not writing any emotions for a character guarantees that no-one will be alienated from him – but the plot of Dead Space revolves in part around Isaac and his missing wife. The moments you are actually presented with these tidbits feel off until you read Isaac’s personal notes about objectives, where it seems someone tried to cram in some character at the last minute – making it feel even more awkward, silly even.

I wonder why I hold Dead Space to such high standards. Might be because it is one of the games from EAs new push for innovation, or it might be because while it is a good game in every aspect, it does not have as good horror elements as Resident Evil or as involving a story as Bioshock. It is a very solid game but when it comes so close to being great the things that are just average become much more glaring.

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Posted on Mar 30/09 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »