Incredibly immersive and ultra polished.
WOW, what an amazing game! This is definitely one of the best games out there. I'm not a fan of many horror games but Dead Space's presentation and gameplay made me love it just as much as other horror games like Resident Evil 4 and Bioshock.
The first thing that instantly grabbed me were the beautiful graphics and in-game HUD. The game looks terrific and it's filled with lots of detail. The ship's levels are eerie and dark in some spots and bright and colorful in other spots. You can sense the horror of what happened to the people on board from the bloody broken locations. The enemies also look totally gruesome and creepy but they're not quite as memorable or disturbing as enemies from games like Silent Hill. As for our hero, Isaac's armor looks totally kickass and he animates very realistically. I was also quite impressed with the famed in-game HUD. It is absolutely SEAMLESS. Everything works really well and it looks great in action. The video logs and menu system is projected in the air in front of you which is quite refreshing to look at. My only gripe is that the text for the text logs look a bit small and hard to read sometimes. Anyways, the in-game HUD is one of the most innovative features of the game and it's extremely well done. Hell, even the loading screen will keep you immersed. Beautiful game.
Even though the graphics look great, the audio is the big winner here. The voice acting is superb, the ambient noises are extremely chilling and the music has its creepy moments. The audio is definitely what scared me the most out of this game. The combination of the monster screams and jolt of music during those sudden confrontations was what had me jumping up. Some reviewers said the game wasn't scary to them but I totally disgree. I think they didn't play with the sound up because if they did, this game was totally immersive and scary as hell. It's quite similar to playing Bioshock where the visuals don't scare you quite as much as the audio. The voice actors for every character you meet is excellent and all the various audio and video logs are also really well done. There isn't a single weak link in the entire game. So pump up your volume if you want the full experience. If you have a good surround setup, that's just icing on the cake.
The gameplay is superb. The controls are super smooth and feel absolutely perfect. Everything from aiming to moving felt responsive. Reloading your weapons is quick and navigating the menus is easy and simple. Every single weapon is powerful and fun to use. Deciding on which weapons to use is a personal preference since every weapon is extremely effective against all the monsters in the game. The alternate fire mode is also pretty cool like the kickass rotating turret on the Pulse Rifle. The ability to check your objective destinations with a click of a button made the game super easy to navigate so you'll never get lost. That made me instantly enjoy exploring the ship because I can always check where I'm supposed to go anytime I want. Sweet. The Stasis and Kinesis powers were also implemented well in both battle and puzzles. They were fun to use as well. I also enjoyed the various Zero-G sections which added some variety to the experience. Btw, Gametrailers mentioned that there are no hotkeys and they are WRONG! There's a dedicated button for Health items which helped a lot in certain battles. I guess their reviewer forgot to read the tutorial? I also like that the game is split up into chapters. Each chapter is about 1-2 hours each depending on how quickly you want to get through each level. This structure made the game easy to digest in chunks but the inability to return to previous sections of the ship was a bummer. Anyways, this game plays like a dream.
Finally, the story. Good story with a few twists and revelations. It won't win any awards but it's very well presented. The majority of the game is spent understanding what happened to the Ishimura (similar to Rapture's downfall in Bioshock). It's nothing that will stick with you but I gotta say that the ending is still floating around in my head. It was quite haunting. I'm really glad I got the LE bundle because it came with the DVD and graphic novel so I'll be digging into those to understand the story more. EA has definitely created a very interesting world that needs to be explored more.
Overall, Dead Space is an excellent game. It's awesome from the beginning to the end. I didn't experience any frustration with the gameplay or exploration at all. The entire experience was seamless. The story was good, the graphics and audio were superb and this game just felt great to play. I loved it all. They got a winner here. This is a MUST BUY folks!