Dead Space = Dead Awesome
This year, we really haven't seen many survival horror games. The latest one was Silent Hill: Homecoming, and it was a pretty good game. Everyone seems to be waiting for Resident Evil 5 (which I don't think is survival horror, but an action game), but if you have the money, you must check out Dead Space. It is one of my favorite games this year and a fantastic survival horror title.
The story is that Isaac (protagonist), and some fellow crew members are going to the USG Ishimura to fix what they think is a down transmitter. They have lost comm with the ship for a few days and are going to investigate. Of course if it was just a down transmitter, there wouldn't be much of game. They get on the Ishimura and all hell breaks loose and the fun begins.
Dead Space is one of only a handful of games this year that does not use the health regeneration system. Too many games are using this system and for me, it kind of ruins the game, especially if it's a survival horror game. Thankfully Dead Space doesn't use the health regeneration system, so you have to look for health packs or buy them at the store kiosks found on the ship. If Dead Space had the health regeneration system, the sense of panic when you are low on health and don't have any health kits would be lost. Also it forces you to play the game differently on harder difficulty settings, using different weapons for different enemies adding a strategic element to the game.
Another feature that Dead Space has that has been rarely seen in games this year is an inventory system you actually have to manage. You only get a pre-determined amount of slots with your suit. This forces you to keep the items you need and to sell the items you don't need. Thankfully, you can upgrade your suit that enables you to carry more items. You can also upgrade your weapons. You upgrade your gear with power nodes that are scattered about on the ship. To upgrade your items you have to find a work bench. The upgrade process is not as easy as you think. There are nodes you have to fill on a grid for each item you want to upgrade. The grid makes you think about how to upgrade your item since there aren't many power nodes on the ship, and you may need to spend more than one power node to get the upgrade you want as the grid is like a point to point system, where you need to connect nodes with each other to get the upgrade you want.
Dead Space is one of the bloodiest and goriest games this year. The enemies rip to shreads with spectacular fashion and if you die, you are treated to your own spectacular death scene. To kill enemies fast and save ammo, you have to dismember them, again adding to the gore and blood, which I think is a very creative way of killing enemies. All you have to do is look at the box art, and that describes the game perfectly.
One of the best things about Dead Space is the sound effects. Whoever made the sound effects should be awarded the best sound engineering for a game, this year. The sound is nothing short of fantastic. If you have a surround sound system, you are in for a real treat. My personal favorite sound is from the ripper, one of the weapons you get. The sound makes me grit my teeth everytime I hear it, and couple that with enemies screaming as you tear them apart is nothing short of awesome.
The graphics are fantastic. The lighting is some of the best I have seen in a game this year. The enviroments are also quite spectacular. You wouldn't expect to find anything spectacular, because, after all, you are on a space ship. But you will be pleasently surprised by what you find. Some times you come to a part of a ship that has been ripped apart, and you can see the stars and the nearby planet and debris being pulled toward the planet by it's gravity. It's a truely amazing site. Also the effects are top notch. When you enter a vacuum, the air rushes out and the effect that it creates is great. Some times you will head into a zero gravity area where you can jump from wall to wall. The zero gravity effect is awesome, and sometimes you can turn off or on gravity and in doing so, watching bodies and metal fall to the floor or get sucked out into space. The effects in Dead Space are fantastic.
The music really adds to the game. It's fully orchestrated and sounds like something out of a horror movie with violins going crazy when a monster appears, and the music also adds quite a bit of tension in the game.
Dead Space is a surprise for me. I never thought that this game would turn out this good. If I could describe one sentence about Dead Space it would be, one hell of a ride. That's what the game feels like. It has great pacing, a great story and overall my top survival horror game of the year. If you like survival horror games, you must check this game out. You would be foolish not to.