IndianVideoGamer Impressions: Dead Space

I had the opportunity to try my hand at the preview build of EA’s upcoming horror-thriller “Dead Space” at the EA Experience organised by EA India in Mumbai.

To sum up my impressions of the game, I will give it a new name, “Gears of Doom 3”.

The game plays itself out in an “over-the-shoulder” third person perspective, in the Gears of War mould. And that’s not the only thing the the game draws from Gears. The character movement is exactly like Gears, and I mean “exactly” right down to the tank-like movement speed, turning speed, aiming and firing system. What it doesn’t have is a cover system like Gears and the dash function is activated by a different button, but doesn’t have the same frenzied pace of running or camera angle. In fact, Isaac’s (the protagonist) running is more like a leisurely trot and on more than one occasion, I found it inadequate to escape from the quick moving enemies.

Now on to the Doom 3 side of things.
The setting for the game is a mining and research facility – Check
Some mining expedition/experiment gone wrong unleashes monsters – Check
Claustrophobic indoor environments with solid mood lighting – Check
Ghastly looking monsters that pop out of nooks and crannies – Check
Cheap scare tactics – Check

What the game does do very well is the mechanics of dealing with the monsters. Your character is equipped with a powered suit of armour (yawn) and is capable of dishing out vicious looking melee attacks, including powerful hooks and a mean curb stomp. Early on, you get your hands on a plasma cutter which fires out plasma bolts that can cut through flesh and metal alike. Enemy monsters have multiple limbs which can be individually targeted and attacked to dismember them and slow them down or finish them off. In fact your allies advise you to target the limbs in order to conserve ammo. And it is this aspect that is extremely visceral and satisfying. The blood and gore made their appearance in full force in the preview build and I hope EA carry it over to the finished game intact because this game is all about wonderfully gory ways to dispose off monsters.

The graphics are good, if a little too reflective, but the animation is excellent and the lighting is superb, setting the mood perfectly. The in game menus and HUD are sharp and well done and the inventory system looks like it could be fun later in the game. You can also presumably never get lost since a click of the right analog stick will show you the route to take thanks to a helpful path finding device that Isaac carries with him. And going by the dark and gloomy environments, I believe this to be a good decision. I couldn’t gauge the sound well enough because of the ruckus being caused by the FIFA 09 match that was underway at the adjoining booth.

I didn’t have enough time to complete the preview levels since I had to dash back to the office, but the little time I did spend with the game, plus the Dead Space back story videos available XBLM and PSN, have got me excited about the full release. A title to watch out for for action/horror junkies.

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