With so many good survival horrors out there I don’t blame fans of the genre for being wracked with indecision. From Resident Evil 5 to Left for Dead 2, trying to find which blend of action and terror which best caters for your individual taste is a tricky business. However if like me you’ve found yourself gazing curiously at the cover of Dead Space while perusing the various horror titles on offer, it might interest you to know that already, this new survival horror has carved out a great reputation for itself.
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Anyone who knows their good sci-fi films (and I am not talking about Transformers!) I mean the really good ones like John Carpenters ‘The Thing’ and Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ will see references to these legendary films all over Dead Space. The story takes place a few centuries in the future where, having depleted Earth’s natural resources, teams of engineers are forced to travel into deep space on missions to ‘crack planets’. This basically means that uninhabited worlds are torn apart by humans and stripped of all their natural resources which are then shipped back to Earth.
The player takes control of an engineer called Isaac who, along with his colleagues, is sent to investigate the reason behind a break in communication with the ship USG Ishimura. Of course, once abroad this legendary planet cracker, Isaac and his crew find themselves stranded and having to contend with an infestation of terrifying monsters. So of course, the game also has a string of similarities to the film Event Horizon.
Then, separated from his crew mates, Isaac must attempt to restart the ships systems, save anyone left alive and somehow kill this horde of brutal-maniac-mutants. The funny thing about Dead Space however, is that as an engineer, Isaac has to adapt his tools into various weapons. These vary from things like nail guns and flame throwers to various pulse weapons which he must employ in order to tear the limbs off any mutants he encounters.
In terms of graphics the game is really superb with an astonishing amount of really realistic looking gore. The game also doesn’t opt for loads of cheap scares and instead, is extremely atmospheric. A subtle air of menace is gradually built up as Isaac uncovers the remnants of the Ishimura’s crew and their last stand against the horrific monsters. The only drawbacks to the game come with its annoying camera, which can sometimes obscure the action at critical moments. The game also involves a lot of back tracking which, although justifiable, can be repetitious and undermine the Ishimura’s sense of scale.
Apart from this however, Dead Space has really established itself as a new survival horror more than capable of going head-to-head with longer running franchises like Left for Dead, and of course, Resident Evil. So don’t be quick to dismiss it. The game is original, scary and highly entertaining – but certainly not for the faint hearted!