Preview – Dead Space

It’s the PC Gamer Showdown (down-down-down). Late at night, while the demo pods were unoccupied I pulled up a chair and a Guinness and spent some considerable time with a full build of Dead Space. There aren’t enough scary space survival horrors out there, so I was rather excited to have a go. Full thoughts beneath the cut.

One of the first things I noticed, stalking through the dim narrow corrdors of the spaceship on which Dead Space is set, was that all of the interfaces exist within the game world. Isaac’s health levels are indicated by a row of glowing bars on his spine, while your inventory screen and objectives are indicated by holograms that Isaac projects in front of him. It’s a concerted and convincing attempt to draw you in to the game world. Isaac’s design also reflects this. The glowing welding visor and unarmoured engineer garb is a welcome break from your typical grizzled space marine, and his quietude and faceless appearance make him an effective everyman.

It’s a game that won’t be asking you to think too much. Pressing in the right stick will see Isaac draw a holographic line on the floor, pointing your way to the next objective. The fact that you’re literally following a little blue line through the game seems ridiculous, but is really just a prettier version of the objective arrow you’ll come across in many other titles. Fortunately the environments are detailed, dark and claustrophobic, managing to remain varied and interesting thanks to some excellent lighting direction.

The close, over-the-shoulder view is heavily reminiscent of Resident Evil 4, and the gunplay will be familiar to anyone who’se played Capcom’s zombie-slaying masterpiece. The enemies – flailing, spasming, humanoids with extra fleshy appendages, are sufficiently disturbing and brilliantly unpredictable. You’ll shoot the legs off one, but instead of being hampered it will scream with rage and dive for your shins as you frantically hammer the stomp button. Sometiems a headless monster will become twice as dangerous, other times they’ll explode spectacularly, sending meaty shunks flying accross the deck. You also have the ability to slow down your enemies with a special laser weapon, allowing you to pick your shots better.

Dead Space is shaping up to be an intense horror experience. It’s committed well to its attempts to immerse the player and has taken its cues from all the right places. You’ll find strains of Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ in the ship design, and John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ in the creatures. You’ll also be eviscerating space monsters is also coming to the PC, which is what I’ll be reviewing it on, and it’ll be interesting to see whether having pixel perfect mouse control makes the limb-poaching shooting mechanics too easy. Dead Space is slated for release on 31st October, we’ll have a review shortly after.

Ludo out.


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