Dead Space - PC Version

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Leisher
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Post by Leisher »

Your name is Isaac Clarke and you have been sent along with some other folks to investigate what has happened to the USS Ishimura. All communications have been lost and it's just sitting there in space around a planet that was being harvested for resources. Upon boarding the deserted ship you quickly discover that you're not alone, and you're in very real danger.

Dead Space is a survival horror game played in the over-the-shoulder perspective. This view sucks and is the game's biggest flaw. The biggest problem with this view point is that it creates a huge blind spot where the player cannot see literally right in front of the character. Such a perspective destroys any chance a player might have had in getting immersed into the story. Another good example of what a problem this is comes later in the game during a shooting gallery mini-game. Targets would pop up in that blind spot, and I wouldn't even see them, just hear them. Another problem with this perspective is positioning of the camera. It's offset from your character so it affects everything you do. Walking, aiming, getting your bearings, dodging, looking around, turning corners, finding cover, etc. all are negatively affected by the offset camera. This perspective has a place in some games, sure, but not here. This is essentially a FPS with an offset camera, and the stupid perspective made me miss several scripted events because of the bad viewing angle. How did I know I missed them? Because I heard them or saw the last second or two. A terrible design decision.

Beyond that, the game is pretty decent.

Good atmosphere throughout, but it does get slightly repetitive towards the end as you're facing the same handful of enemies over and over. It doesn't help that repeat a few locations, all locations begin the same way, and you're in a spaceship, so the interiors are going to look similar. Even when they varied things up with locales that could have looked much different, they still looked the same. For example, the greenhouse area of the ship started out looking different, but quickly looks the same as the rest of the ship. Ditto for the planet's colony. Sure, outdoors was different, but you're rapidly stuck indoors and it looks like the ship, only taller.

Ok, so that sounds like a negative too, but it's really not. I mean it is, but it's not a deal killer.

However, my next point is going to make this sound even worse, the enemies get repetitive too. Your basic enemy here is like a zombie Yao Ming with his hands up. He comes plain (white), black and scaly (slightly faster), and athletic (white, but bulkier). Along with them come
-a dog looking thing that was made from human babies with tentacles that shoot projectiles.
-a black and scaly version of that dog/baby hybrid.
-a thing that looks like the first monster I described, only Yao's legs have been replaced with what looks like a mermaid's tail without the two fins at the bottom.
-a black and scaly version of that.
-a fleshy bird like thing that animates corpses.
-a humanoid whose left arm went cancerous and grew to a massive size, but glows and blows up when you shoot it.
-a human that's been "Aliens-ed" to the walls of the ship, has tentacles (including a one hit kill...no matter what...tentacle) and shoots out little creatures that grow a tentacle that shoots projectiles and blow up when they die. (More on this thing in the weapons discussion.)
-A really fat humanoid who you have to carefully shoot to avoid rupturing his stomach. If you do, a whole bunch of mini monsters come out and crawl all over you.
-Giant tentacle. These suckers come out of nowhere and try to squash you or will grab you. The squashy ones are easy, but the ones that grab you give you about 5 pauses as they drag you back to their lair. If you can't adjust your shot to catch them in their weak spot 2-3 times prior to that, you're dead.
-Big brute things that resemble and fight like giant, zombie, sort of shell armored silverback gorillas.
-a black and scaly version of that.
-Bosses: Mostly pretty boring and easy to kill. The end guy was ridiculously easy, but that's ok. At that point, he wasn't the story anyway, so making him an easy kill was acceptable. The best monster in the game though is (and please stop reading this bullet point if you don't want this guy spoiled for you) one that looks like a humanoid, and sort of like the basic monsters, only he looks like he was turned inside out. He's slow and doesn't hit for much, but he's relentless. The first time I saw him I laughed because he was someone's evil plan to take me out. Within 3 seconds this thing was on the floor minus its arms and legs. 5 seconds later it was back up and I had to put it down again. Then it happened again before my AI friend told me to get out of Dodge. How do you beat it? Well, it's great. Excellent puzzle solving that's blatantly obvious for even the most clueless gamers (ok probably not). The best part of beating him? Knowing he wants round 2.

All in all, not much variety in the monsters, but they're creepy and a great mix with the atmosphere and music.

The coolest part is that center mass shots are a stupid tactic in this game. You'll want to aim for limbs and tentacles. That's where you'll do the most damage. Did you blow that monster's legs off? Watch him for a second and he'll come crawling for you. Ditto if you do a meaningless thing like take its head off.

The best part of the game is the tools you're given to lop off those limbs:
-Plasma cutter. The first weapon you're given and my go to weapon through the game. When's the last time you played a shooter where your first weapon is still one of your best at the end? It's just a handgun that shoots plasma that cuts through things. Pretty self explanatory.
-Plasma Rifle. Your machine gun.
-Flamethrower. Great for the brutes and the fat guys (and their kids).
-Ripper. My main weapon through a lot of the game. Essentially a table saw that shoots out and is held into place with a tractor beam or something. A very limited range, but since almost every monster charges you it makes it quite easy to just stand there as the monsters cut their own limbs off.
-Line Gun. Like the plasma cutter only more powerful and has a wider attack. (I didn't use it a lot, but when I did, it was very effective.)
-Kinetic gun. During my playthrough this weapon was pointless. More in a second...
-Force gun. I don't know. I know I shot it, wasn't impressed, and never used it again.

You also have 2 abilities that can be used when you aim your weapon:
-Stasis: "Freeze" enemies and objects for a short period of time.
-Telekinesis. Move stuff around. This ability made the Kinetic gun pointless to me. I used the gun during one moment in the game where moving objects was critical, and used up all the gun's ammo before realizing I could do the same thing much faster and easier using my normal TK ability.

The weapons, despite the two I didn't use, are pretty kick ass. The plasma cutter honestly made me feel like a surgeon, the line gun cleared rooms, the ripper was simply vicious, and the plasma gun felt the most like a normal weapon. There's comfort in that...

The problem with the weapons I did use was range. Maybe the force gun did this and I never saw it in action, but I was missing a really heavy hitter and/or something to deal with monsters at a distance. The glued to the wall guys were particularly difficult to deal with due to this issue.

Now your suit is your armor and inventory slot throughout the game. And what's cool is that everything can be upgraded with power nodes. So all the items you find can be stored, used, or sold. You then use power nodes that you find or buy to give better abilities to your armor, weapons, and abilities. By the end of the game you can pretty much max out almost everything. My only problem with this system were the "dead slots" in schematics. Say you wanted to upgrade your gun's damage. You would look at the schematics and see an empty node and then a damage node. You'd need two nodes to power up your gun's damage. Hard to explain, but trust me when I say adding these empty spots was pretty stupid. Those nodes are looked upon as gold in the game, so throwing them into empty slots seemed stupid.

The storyline of the game is pretty good, and works well, but there are a few "huh?" moments like when a certain "bad guy" offs himself. It made no sense and had no bearing on you at all despite him saying it would. Also, while the story does an excellent job of giving you the impression of what certain characters' motivation might be, it's a bit too obvious in at least one example, and in another, I couldn't even remember the fate of a major character and I just played through the game. I had to look it up and still couldn't remember the scene. That's not good.

Dead Space, despite its flaws, is a fun game. Not worth new game money, but definitely pick it up during a Steam sale. (Look for one soon as Dead Space 2 is hitting shelves shortly.) Its major problem is that it was designed for consoles. Sorry console folks, but games made for consoles are really dumbed down, and it becomes obvious on the PC. (While I'm at it, Halo is the most overrated game series in the history of mankind.) That's not to say it's a bad game, but it could have been a lot better if it was designed for the PC first.

Still, it's fun, it has a good story, it's very creepy, has cool weapons, and is about a 15 hour game. Next time switch to first person (or give players the option) and do something that's rare in games like this...add pockets of survivors. Every person I came across that was still alive dies almost instantly. What are the odds that they all survived for days until the moment I can see them?

6 out of 10. (I would have given it a 7 or maybe an 8, but that over-the-shoulder perspective knocks the score down.)
“Every record been destroyed or falsified, books rewritten, pictures repainted, statues, street building renamed, every date altered. The process is continuing day by day. History stops. Nothing exists except endless present in which the Party is right.”
Malcolm
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Post by Malcolm »

...over-the-shoulder perspective. This view sucks and is the game's biggest flaw...

Easily my biggest complaint about Gears of War. I know it makes your product look different, but you also don't want your view to look like crap. Stop taking away a significant percentage of my viewing real estate with my avatar's goddamned shoulders and back.

When's the last time you played a shooter where your first weapon is still one of your best at the end?

Heretic.
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."
Leisher
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Post by Leisher »

Easily my biggest complaint about Gears of War.


Great example. I had forgotten about that game because I actually stopped playing it. I simply couldn't get past the horrible camera in that game. I found it to be unplayable. Using console controls probably didn't help in that case either.
“Every record been destroyed or falsified, books rewritten, pictures repainted, statues, street building renamed, every date altered. The process is continuing day by day. History stops. Nothing exists except endless present in which the Party is right.”
Leisher
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Posts: 64718
Joined: Thu May 20, 2004 9:17 pm
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Dead Space - PC Version

Post by Leisher »

“Every record been destroyed or falsified, books rewritten, pictures repainted, statues, street building renamed, every date altered. The process is continuing day by day. History stops. Nothing exists except endless present in which the Party is right.”
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