X360, PS3 Monday, October 27, 2008 | 8:48 AM

More Dead Space!

More Dead Space!

Quite a few of you guys asked me for more Dead Space footage, and you know me, I love it when people enjoy my videos. So there you have it, more Dead Space! Also, as promised, you can read Driftwood's detailed first impressions inside. Enjoy!
Update: The third and last part is online.
Update 2: Driftwood was at my place yesterday with his hard drive and the French version of Dead Space, so we recorded two more videos showing the end of the third level in hard difficulty level. Some mild spoilers, but most of you guys are not going to understand them anyway!

Driftwood's first impressions:

A few years back, not a lot of games from EA were AAA titles and to be honest, most of them were actually dull adaptations of big movie blockbusters or uninspired sequels. Players always had that suspicious look on their face when it came to EA and I’m sure many of you guys considered their games were rarely worth playing anyway. Things have changed over the past few years though: EA is now giving a shot to new interesting franchises that might as well become big time classics in the very near future.

Dead Space is one of those games. Some will say it doesn’t really add anything new to the genre and it takes most of its inspiration from previous games or movies. That’s something that can’t be denied obviously but you have to consider the game as some kind of best of menu of everything that is great in survival horrors.

And that’s what Dead Space is all about: surviving. If you like a thrill from the comfort of your living room once in a while, you’re in for a real treat as the game will remind you of all those movies or games that have scared the bejesus out of you for the last 30 years, no less. Alien, Carpenter’s The Thing, Event Horizon are clear inspirations for Dead Space but let’s not forget Resident Evil, Doom or even Bioshock in the video game industry. Claustrophobia, loneliness, helplessness, three words you’ll need to learn to cope with when playing the game. The storyline might sound a bit déjà vu - you’re part of a rescue team that gets in real trouble when they get on location - but it still is very effective. You obviously get all the stereotyped situations you’d expect in such a case but the game’s atmosphere is so great that you simply get sucked into it.

The sound design is just perfect and it has a big part in the immersion process. Monsters sound horrible, the main character’s heavy breath can he heard, the explosions or gun fires are great too… Everything sounds so right it is easy to understand that half the work is done with the sound design only. One thing is worth mentioning though because I’m sure some of you will regret it: Isaac - the hero - never says a word, which, to me, can only be explained by the fact that he must be somehow related to Gordon Freeman. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t really mind but some may disagree.

Not only is Dead Space a feast for the ears, it is also eye candy thanks to great realistic lighting effects, very convincing smoke effetcs and last but not least, a lot of gory details. Some might not like wandering through the dark corridors of the USG Ishimura but there is no denying that the game is visually solid. You’ll probably find a few more impressive games on the market for sure but overall the game looks pretty stunning and it gets the job done. If I had one minor complain to make, it would be that the well-lit areas look less sharp than the darker ones but that’s really not an issue - I'm just being picky.

Gameplay-wise, Dead Space plays in close-up third person view - something similar to Resident Evil 4 - but it is possible to move the camera all around the main character - except when in aim mode obviously. Thanks to that, it makes it easier to observe your environment and pay attention to every little detail. Another good thing to me is the fact that you can aim and move whilst doing it and, contrary to what some hardcore Resident Evil fans may think, it doesn’t make the game any less nerve-racking. No quick turnaround command though: the developers thought it would add up to the feeling of urgency and fear in combat situations and they were right. What’s more, it also helps to feel Isaac’s clumsiness a bit more. After all the guy is wearing a heavy helmet, a space suit and he’s going through confined environments so no wonder he is not jumping around everywhere like a prince of Persia.

The controls are great too and they all feel pretty natural. Again, you can’t really say there is anything original in that area but hey, it works so why should we complain? The menu system brings a bit of a fresh air though: it all appears in 3D and in real time - which means the game doesn’t pause when you open it, so beware. It is really easy to use and navigate through but more than that, it simply looks really cool. You can also use some kind of GPS system when pressing the right analogue stick so you don’t get lost too much. One more thing, there is no HUD whatsoever, which makes the game even more immersive.

When watching the videos, you might get the idea that Dead Space is a mindless game that requires no finesse at all but you couldn’t be more wrong I’m afraid. Indeed, you can’t just unload your gun hoping it will be enough to get rid of the creatures that are after you. You need to remain as calm as possible and use strategic dismemberment - yes I know how that sounds - if you want to survive the attack and have enough ammo to live through the next one. You might think it sounds pretty easy to handle but believe me, when four of five of those bad boys are on to you, you tend to panic a wee bit.

Hopefully it is possible to find new tools or weapons provided you have the proper amount of cash. Hats off to the cool upgrading system that forces you to make choices as you won’t be able to max out every weapon in one playthrough - but you can start a new game + once you’ve completed the game. Isaac can also use special abilities such as stasis or kinesis modules that respectively allow him to slow down time or to move objects that are in the way or solve simple puzzles. I won’t say more so you still have a lot to see for yourself but I can tell you that the zero gravity sequences or those where there is no air are just awesome.

I started the game in hard mode - whereas BlimBlim is playing in normal mode in the videos - and I must confess that survival is no piece of cake. One reason is that, contrary to what you find in the other games of the genre, surviving a room full of dangerous monsters doesn’t mean you will be able to find any ammo of health kits before the second wave of enemies hits you. In Resident Evil 4, you had plenty of time of opportunities to patch up and reload your weapons. In Dead Space, you’d better learn to shoot to kill if you don’t want to run out of ammo big time and die in horrible circumstances. So don’t forget to search your environment for goodies because they are scarce but really necessary.

Don’t get scared though, the game still is fun to play and not that hard when you understand which weapon to use and where to aim depending on the enemy. Also, I have to say that I’ve never found the difficulty to be frustrating - and I tend to get frustrated a lot when I have to start the same sequence over and over again in other games. When you die, you know you haven’t handled the situation right and you just want to go back there and make it. The key is to stay mobile and to aim correctly but it is what survival horror games are all about, isn’t it? And you can still try the easy and normal modes if you feel you’re not up to the task in hard mode.

So is Dead Space worth buying then? It’s a definite yes if you like the genre even though the game doesn’t offer anything particularly new. The game is a serious challenger to the upcoming Resident Evil 5 and I think Konami was pretty wise when they decided to delay the release of Silent Hill: Homecoming in Europe. Dead Space is a very good surprise and you can really tell that the team behind it is composed of a bunch of videogame fans as well as movie fanatics. And that’s usually how great games are born.

The first 10 minutes part 2
Download: WMV HD | MP4 HD | AVI
The first 10 minutes: part 3
Download: WMV HD | MP4 HD | AVI
The first 10 minutes: French version (spoilers)
Download: WMV HD | MP4 HD | AVI
The first 10 minutes: French version part 2 (spoilers)
Download: WMV HD | MP4 HD | AVI

All comments

Commented on 2008-10-25 22:28:33
certainly looks nice. but, i`m no fan of third person "shooters". i find it somewhat counter-immersive to have "some guy" always in front of "you" blocking the view.
(yes, i know the guy is "me"!)

the atmosphere is very reminiscent of doom3 imho. although i found doom to be more terrifying, at least judging from the video. maybe i`m just too spoiled. back then the gfx were on a new level. now, most games look incredibly good.

great review, btw! ^_^
Commented on 2008-10-25 22:31:59 In reply to lemetre
I wouldn't call it a review since I didn't get to play the whole game just yet. So let's just go for "very detailed first impressions but not a review per se". ;)

But thanks, I appreciate. :)
Commented on 2008-10-25 22:53:50
im playing this on pc with x360 controller... amazing game!
Commented on 2008-10-25 23:12:11
i done about 40 and its amazing/
Commented on 2008-10-25 23:37:19
Amazing game, loved it!
I am replaying the game to get all the trophies and do harder difficaulty settings and just having fun.

Bring on Dead Space 2 and more comic videos and animated movies please :D
Commented on 2008-10-26 01:17:47
Well on friday, I managed to pick up Fable-2, Far Cry-2 and this game too. I played Fable for waaaay too long lol and have yet to get back home and play either Far Cry or this. After watching these videos, I`m soooo looking forward to getting home, donning the headphones and turning down the lights as this looks mighty terrifying to say the least!!!!.

Thanks very much for the effort and the videos....great stuff!! :0)
Commented on 2008-10-26 03:50:00 In reply to lemetre
Posted by lemetre
although i found doom to be more terrifying, at least judging from the video. maybe i`m just too spoiled.
Doom is stereotypical, this is not
Commented on 2008-10-26 04:40:39
Good review, and personally love this game as well. Has great alien design and the dismemberment is a fun new way to stop the baddies. Scary stuff ...

edit : would be nice though, if our hero would actually speak a bit and have a history. It's odd he doesn't speak.
Commented on 2008-10-26 07:47:59
Romeo...yeah I mean I didnt expect him to be mute.

Now if the team wanted him to be mute, they might as well not show his head at all and say "YOU are the character in that suit, thats why we we only gave him a name, no face or anything else".

But they have a face for him, background, name...but still a mute.

Kind of reminds me of Resistance were Nathan Hale never talked and only had a few seconds liners and thats it.

Maybe for Dead Space 2 they will either have more of Isaac and talking or a new character.
Commented on 2008-10-26 10:34:30
Don't watch the videos if you're going to play it! Seriously, you'll thank me for the warning. I'm also playing it on Hard mode and finding it challenging but fair, and to be honest I think I made the right decision. You almost dread every firefight and because death isn't too far away, it raises the tension considerably.

Isaac not talking in this doesn't really bother me. I'm more concerned about ploughing through to the next section, and the plot's wafer thin so far anyway. Most of it revolves around the mystery of what happened in the Ishimura, rather than Issac, anyway. And for once I feel that having a mute character, third person or no, actually puts me in the game.

Sure, the DS's derivative as hell, but it doesn't bother me one bit as it manages to forge its own identity thanks to the excellent level and sound design, nicely done art and deeply forboding atmosphere.
Commented on 2008-10-26 11:02:03
You are just spoiling us BlimBlim. ;)
Commented on 2008-10-26 13:26:09
nice review. It´s a great game indeed with lots of nice details.

Oh, and sound is absolutely SPECTACULAR!
Commented on 2008-10-26 13:30:46 In reply to romeolives
edit : would be nice though, if our hero would actually speak a bit and have a history. It's odd he doesn't speak.[/quote]

Mind you though, our good ol` friend Gordon Freeman doesn`t say much and isn`t it well known that his abandonment of words actually went in his favour?, as I`m sure that the HL hardcore players actually prefer their main character/hero staying silent throughout the game/s ?.

The lack of HUD is a great concept too as it really does help with the immersion factor here and although it`s still in it`s infancy, this new trend is one which I sincerely hope that many other developers adhere to in the future as, for me, it seems to work nicely.
Commented on 2008-10-26 14:06:27 In reply to squarejawhero
Posted by squarejawhero
...and the plot's wafer thin so far anyway.
It's deeper than you think, trust me ;) Without giving too much away, I'll just say you've probably walked past quite a lot of the back story without noticing... and I don't mean the logs.
Commented on 2008-10-26 15:59:36
I think you sell the games visuals short, it looks really great, and althuogh it may not be super realistic, and its no Crysis, it does manage to be more pleasing then a lot of somewhat more impressive looking games, espesially the lighting and such.
I think the lack of the HUD, and the way all the pop up menu's work is one of my favorite small details of this game, the holographs in the game look really great, very much like the job Bungie did in all their Halo games, although obviously I think dead space did a better job on the technical side of it, while Bungie just had cool looking designs ^.^

I also think that the whole not talking thing is fine. And I like that you can hear him screaming when he's getting pulled into those holes and stuff, that adds a lot. HL managed to have one of the most engaging stories in a game yet, and it had no dialogue from the player character, so I don't see why any other game couldn't get away with it.
Commented on 2008-10-26 19:53:35
whenever EA takes over a franchise im still like ummmm oh well when i hear about it lol

im used to the titles they buy sucking but yeah like it said up top they are getting better about their rep.
Commented on 2008-10-27 03:07:59
Thanks for the impressions. Game looks pretty great, surprise game of the year! :)
Commented on 2008-10-27 09:47:04 In reply to DDRMidian
Posted by DDRMidian
It's deeper than you think, trust me ;) Without giving too much away, I'll just say you've probably walked past quite a lot of the back story without noticing... and I don't mean the logs.
Not really. I've played more since then and it's developed, but it's basically riffing on the usual tropes seen in System Shock and the related movies.

I did find the alien language translation on a wall near a gravity well. If I was so inclined I'd had bothered to write it down!
Commented on 2008-10-27 09:55:37
been playing this for most of the weekend ( between farcry2 and fable2 ) and have to say that i'm very impressed by the visuals and the overall feel of the game
Commented on 2008-10-28 00:14:40
The art design in this game is horrible!
Commented on 2008-10-28 01:11:48
I'd prefer it if Isaac spoke. I'd also prefer the story and character relationships to be more fleshed-out; I really didn't care about a lot of what happened.

This notion that having the character speak ala Half-Life takes you out of the game is bullshit. Having other characters talk to my character while he stands there speechless is far more immersion-killing in my opinion.

Also, as far as best visuals, this is probably in my top 3.
Commented on 2008-10-28 11:45:13
Any footage planned from the PS3-version? Comparison video maybe?. I'm just curious whether the gfx engine is performing as good as with the 360-version (no apparent slowdown, screen tearing or pop in/up etc.).
Commented on 2010-01-13 11:36:35
This message is in "Boulet Time" (TM), If you still *really* want to see it, click here

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