PS3 Review: Dead Space

Fancy a trip to a mining ship full of hostile aliens? You should do.

Set in the cold blackness of deep space, the atmosphere is soaked with a feeling of tension, dread and sheer terror. In Dead Space, players step into the role of engineer Isaac Clarke – an ordinary man on a seemingly routine mission to fix the communications systems aboard a deep space mining ship. It is not long before Isaac awakes to a living nightmare when he learns that the ship’s crew has been ravaged by a vicious alien infestation. He must fight through the dead silence and darkness of deep space to stay alive.

With so many horror games out there like Resident Evil and Silent Hill, it takes something unique to stand out from them. EA’s Dead Space could be one of those games, could it be the more unique of EA’s games or does it rely too much on other horror titles? Dead Space could be the best horror game of the year, mainly because there hasn’t really been any competition in 2008 other than AITD, which was awful. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it probably is the best horror game since Resident Evil 4. It does things that set it apart from those games while retaining the classic gameplay that you would expect.

Dead Space feels incredibly claustrophobic thanks to a camera that sticks incredibly close to you. Also, you need to have your wits with you at all times as checking maps and selecting weapons/items do not pause the game, it just displays on an OSD that Isaac projects. There’s also no health bar other than the bar’s on the back of Isaac, it’s also impossible to get lost thanks to a waypoint line that you can get to show up by clicking the right thumbstick.

In most horror games, decapitating your enemies would usually result in them dying. That’s not the case with Dead Space, they require limbs to be cut off but blowing their head off can result in them changing forms or unleashing smaller aliens to attack. It’s quite clever, although trying to get rid of limbs can prove problematic if you try stomping on them thanks to poor hit detection, it’s a small problem but one worth noticing.

If there’s one problem with Dead Space, it’s that enemies tend to look very similar, there doesn’t appear to be much variety between them other than the small number of boss fights in the game. Sure they are great, but it would have been amazing to have even more bosses to kill. There are also times where you must navigate through space itself with no gravity, it can become a bit daunting trying to get the right direction, plus aliens have quite an advantage out there. You can become a bit disorientated through the experience, even with your boosters to jump to other platforms.

When it comes to the fear factor, Dead Space has it in spades. You’ll be running down what appears to be an empty corridor only for an alien to burst out a vent, or waiting behind you. You’re always conscious of your movement and wondering when the scum will show its face next, it can easily develop into a bit of paranoia, but that’s a good thing in a game like this…it just adds to the tension. There’s no online features in the game, which is disappointing but the single player has a great campaign, plus trophies for completion nuts.

Visually, Dead Space is very impressive to look at. It runs smoothly and looks like a space-horror game should. Enemies could have used a bit more detail and variety, but it’s a small complaint. The audio is outstanding, especially with surround sound which can add even more fear into the living room. So turn the game up, turn the lights off and prepare to crap yourself a few times.

The Verdict

Dead Space is an amazing horror game that any PS3 fan will enjoy. Sure it’s not the most original game out there, but it’s a blast from start to finish.