Not that the game has abandoned the more hardcore gamer. Combine the gravity-gun like telekinetic power and the explosive canisters and sharp objects in the scenery and there’s some room to experiment with alternative methods of monster destruction, while a comprehensive system of weapon and suit upgrades gives you a chance to customise your character and play the game your way. We’re not talking Bioshock here – let alone System Shock – but Dead Space is a richer, deeper game than first appears.
OK, so there is a little bit of repetition as the game goes on, with the game cheekily revisiting areas you’ve already been to once the game gets to its halfway stage, though you will see new areas and new creatures and characters which stop the game falling flat. You could also argue that once you’re used to the basic gameplay – and you’ll have a head start here if you’ve played Resident Evil 4 – it doesn’t do much to stretch you or surprise you, and all those gloomy, industrial spaceship interiors do have a risk of getting dull.
Still, none of this stuff can spoil the incredible sense of raw panic that the game instils. When you’re being chased around a room by demonic, clawed creatures, trying desperately to avoid lethal spots of bad gravity, or when you’re fighting through a series of airless chambers, watching your supply run down while fending off monsters in a noiseless vacuum, you’re not thinking how derivative Dead Space is; you’re just in there, fighting for your life.
EA gets a raw deal from a lot of gamers, and often the company deserves it. Content to shove out franchise update after franchise update after lacklustre licensed game, it’s been responsible for an awful lot of mediocre games. Dead Space does a lot to redeem this. It’s not original and the plot and gameplay tail off a little after an incredible first few hours, but this is still a really great title. The nervous, easily frightened and generally lily-livered should give it a wide berth. Everyone else should get stuck right in.
A five star, flesh-crawling, scary sci-fi feast. While you can hardly describe it as original, Dead Space is one survival horror game you shouldn’t miss.