|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Redwood Shores||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 14, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Weapons in Dead Space are supposedly, for the most part, makeshift armaments from everyday engineering tools. However, they are quite adept at stopping Necromorphs in their tracks. Isaac has access to seven weapons and two powers in all. Some of the weapons include the Plasma Cutter (your all-purpose limb-lopping pistol-like bolt cutter), the Ripper (a flesh-hungry circular saw), and the Force Gun (a cone of sonic death that works even better on humanoids than it does on granitic silicates), plus four others that are equally lethal.
All weapons also have a secondary function. For example, the Line Gun will not only send out a wide beam of appendage-severing plasma; it also doubles as a timed mine launcher that does radial damage to your foes. Using both weapon features is simple: primary weapon functions are accessed via the main trigger, while secondary weapons are unleashed through the shoulder button. In all, combat controls in Dead Space are exactly what you'd expect from a third-person shooter; they are instinctive and accurate. The only missing function I longed for was a 180 degree quick-turn. Often, baddies will easily be able to get blows in behind you, and a quick-turn button would have been ideal.
In addition to these weapons, Isaac Clarke has access to stasis and kinesis powers, which are controlled by his rig (suit). Stasis powers allow players to slow down both objects and enemies, making it easier to advance. Similarly, kinesis powers allow players to move both objects and enemies by encompassing the target in a force field. Both these powers are used throughout the game to solve many minor puzzles and help you wade through the onslaught of Necromorphs.
Also, your rig will shield you from the elements by providing a limited supply of oxygen to breathe whilst in the vacuum of space and magnetized boots for walking in zero-G environments. The game is full of short sequences that take advantage of these environmental scenarios. Thankfully, they never become cumbersome because of their brevity and interspersed, story-driven inclusion. These elements could have spoiled gameplay if they were used too frequently, but instead they really help to enhance it.
Furthermore, weapons, rigs, and powers can all be enhanced through work benches scattered throughout the various zones. By adding power nodes to their equipment, players will be able to augment the Nano-circuitry, thus increasing capacity, damage, reload times, hit points, air supply, etc. This adds a mild RPG-like character enhancement mechanic that was quite enjoyable.
I also really enjoyed the menu organization and interface. This game is extremely player-friendly. Dead Space does away with a traditional menu HUD in favor of a more cinematic approach. Isaac's health and stasis meters are clearly visible on the back of his rig, and the detailed, Metroid Prime-like 3D maps and personal inventory pop up in front of him as if he was accessing a computer; players can still progress through the game while using these menus. Also, progressing in Dead Space is a breeze thanks to the mapping tool. At any time, players can click on the right analog stick and a glowing path, tied to the selected objective, will illuminate the way. That means there's no wasted time hunting for the path, which allows players to concentrate on the engrossing gameplay and story. Obtaining information of all sorts in Dead Space is both organic and intuitive.
Dead Space is a masterful title that is sure to scare the crap out of you. Plus, there are three modes of difficulty, so this is an experience that casual and hardcore gamers alike simply cannot miss. This is a highly polished and well-crafted title that transcends standard video gaming. Simply put, it is one of the best games I've ever played.
CCC Editor / News Director