Dead Space Preview
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
Dead Space box art
System: X360, PS3, PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Redwood Shores 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Electronic Arts 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 14, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
The Evolution of Survival Horror
by D'Marcus Beatty

November 30, 2007 - The survival horror genre is one of the more popular types of games because of its ability to thrill gamers. Whether the scares are cheap, sudden scares or deeper, psychological terrors, survival horror games keep the player enthralled by the constant sense of dread and danger, the feeling that harm lurks around every corner. While this feeling exists in most games, survival horror games accentuate that feeling, amplifying it with horrific foes, sinister locations, and, most often, a suffocating feeling of helplessness. These are some of the elements that the developers over at EA evidently took into account when they began crafting their upcoming IP, Dead Space, which is a survival horror game set, in the tradition of movies like Alien, aboard a deserted spacecraft.

Dead Space screenshot

Dead Space puts you in the role of Isaac Clarke, an engineer that specializes in repairing mining ships. The company that he works for, the Concordance Extraction Corporation, one day receives a distress call from a ship. Isaac and a couple of crewmates decide to investigate, and, in the manner of horror movies and games, here is where the terror starts. The crew of the distressed vehicle has apparently been ravaged by an alien race known as the Necromorphs. The aliens all look terrifying, resembling a mangled mash up of humans. In short order, you're separated from your companions, and you must discover what happened to the crew, all while trying to survive the onslaught of murderous Necromorphs.

One twist that the game provides is the role of Isaac. As stated earlier, Isaac is an engineer, not a soldier. He doesn't have any combat training and isn't particularly skilled in the weapons that he is presented. He has access to mining tools that are jury-rigged to be effective combat tools, and often he'll be forced to use objects to batter the aliens with the game's melee system. However, to more efficiently utilize his weaponry, Isaac has to become familiar with the alien's weaknesses, which comes to play in the game's dismemberment system. Each of the different Necromorph species has a specific weak point, which Isaac can obviously exploit. On some creatures, certain appendages are expendable, while on others, the loss of that particular extremity may be crippling or fatal. Some of the Necromorphs can survive without their head, but may be severely handicapped if Isaac can remove the arm. Isaac can use his Plasma Cutter, which will be his main weapon, to sever the different body parts in an attempt to defeat the Necromorphs, but it is in his best interest to find their weak point, as some Necromorphs will continue their assault in a shape that appears all but limbless.

Dead Space screenshot

In addition to the Plasma Cutter, Isaac will have a number of other high tech tools to help his survival. Kinesis allows Isaac to pick up and throw different objects for offensive purposes, making it sound similar to the gravity gun in Half-Life 2. The Stasis gun can slow time around a targeted area or object, taking the concept of games like Max Payne and Timeshift and focusing it further, since the untargeted areas and enemies will all proceed at normal speeds.

One of Dead Space's most unique features is its zero-gravity segments. During certain parts of the game, Isaac will have to apparently step outside of the ship, anchored to the hull only by his gravity boots. These areas increase the tension incredibly, since Isaac not only has to worry about the Necromorphs, he now has to be careful of his every step or he might find himself floating off into space.

Dead Space screenshot

The visuals in Dead Space are looking incredible so far. Isaac resembles a cross between Master Chief and a Big Daddy, wearing a space suit that looks a little like segmented armor. We have yet to see Isaac's face too, as all the released screenshots have him wearing a visored helmet. The Necromorphs are all terrifying, with mutated bodies comprised of human body parts and organs, and their skins seeming to have a pinkish, exposed look. We can definitely expect this game to be bloody, so the faint of heart need not apply.

Dead Space is looking like a game that we might want to keep our eyes open for. The survival horror genre has been relatively quiet of late, with most gamers waiting for the next iterations of Silent Hill and Resident Evil. Dead Space definitely looks like an interesting premise, and early screenshots show environs and enemies that are more than suitably scary. If all goes according to plan, we should be getting our Necromorph scares out around the end of 2008.

By D'Marcus Beatty
CCC Former Co-Site Director

Screenshots / Images
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