mariussmit's Dead Space (PC) review

Great game, but avoid the iffy port

I picked up Dead Space for the PC last year after a very favourable review on this very site. Being mostly a PC gamer I decided to get the PC version of the game. While I had a great time with the game there are some issue that would make me recommend the console versions of this game to the PC port.
 
Dead Space is a survival horror game with a very familiar premise. You arrive at a space station on a routine repair operation only for everything to go very wrong. I'm sure you've heard that before ... Luckily the story is much greater than its original premise and eventually expands into what can be considered a full blown game universe. The story is delivered through standard fare such as video clips and voice recordings. What makes these nice though is the fact that they are projected from Isaac (the protagonist)'s suit into the game environment. The inventory and objectives are handled in a similar fashion giving the HUD a truly organic and integrated feel.
 
The controls are somewhat iffy on the PC version I played. Controlling the cursor in menus was near impossible until I downed the dpi settings on my mouse. It is obvious that the games aiming mechanics were designed for the anologue sticks of the consoles and very little was done to adopt to the more exact mouse controls of the PC. The remainder of the game's controls are quite decent and I never felt that the controls were not up to the task presented.
 
Dead Space follows a fairly linear structure although there is the odd nook and cranny to be found. And find them you should, since you'll have to scavenge for every last supply on the higher difficulty settings to survive. Combat is made interesting with the "Strategic Dismemberment" mechanic present in the game whereby monsters need to be incapacitated to slow down, disarm, and eventually kill. Since the monsters have different sets of limbs each requires a unique strategy and I found myself devising improved ones up to the very end of the game.
 
In addition to good combat mechanics the game also presents a decent set of puzzles that are nicely integrated into the milieu. These puzzles are solved by using telekinesis and cryokinesis (slowdown) abilities in Izaac's suit. The abilities can also be applied in battle which provides even greater strategic options. The puzzle solving mechanics are rounded out with areas of low gravity that allows Isaac to leap to any surface (warning may be very disorientating) and areas with a lack of oxygen which adds a time pressure to any current goal. Mix all these together and Dead Space presents a delicious game play stew. 
 
The only other gripe I have with Dead Space lies with its graphics. The game does not compare favourably with games released in a similar time frame on the PC. It is once again obvious that little was done to tune the game to the PC's unique strenghts. The same can however not be said for the sound design which is possibly the best I've seen in a game. The sound effects greatly add to the atmosphere and it can be said that the sound effects in Dead Space actually form part of the story-telling. At times I found myself standing in a dark corner listening to whispers in an attempt to unravel the plot, if a game inspires that level of immersion through its sound, you know that it is special.
 
In all, Dead Space, is a great survival horror game and in my mind competes directly with Resident Evil for top survival honours. Hopefully it is the beginning of a long and successful franchise for its developers. Hopefully in subsequent versions they will also decide to give the PC version a little more love. If have no other choice get this on the PC its strenghts more than make up for its flaws. If you own a PS3 or 360, learn from my mistake and rather play it on there.

3 Comments
Posted by Noremakk

The menu navigation is slow because the game defaults to having the V-sync enabled. Disable V-sync and it will run flawlessly.

Posted by Hunkulese

I don't see how this is an "iffy port". The best version of the game is the PC version. It may not compare graphically with games developed only for the pc but it still looks better than the console versions. Dead Space also fully supports a 360 controller and includes the 360 button prompts. The game runs flawlessly on the PC.

Posted by Darkstorn

I just finished the game on PC and only the menu's sluggishness got me down. I felt like the aiming was only slightly controller-oriented, and the game ran well on my machine.

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