Outstanding Visuals; Embarrassingly Derivative Story
listlurker wrote this review on .
The environments aboard the corporate starship Ishimura carry a lived-in detail that most game developers never bother to aim for, much less achieve. While one must allow for certain concessions to the reality of game design, the Ishimura looks like a place where people actually lived before they died. Signage, magazines -- details great and small -- give a sense of place that most games (especially shooter games) never see.
So darkly beautiful and well-conceived are Dead Space's visuals that they end up making the _rest_ of the game look even weaker than it actually is.
Simply put, Dead Space's story is so bland, and so shamelessly derivative, it doesn't deserve the art, design, music and voice acting used to tell it.
Yes, I know all about homages, but Dead Space isn't homaging here -- they're stealing plot points whole.
Rent and watch the movies "Aliens", "Event Horizon", and "The Ring" and you will have seen basically every plot element in this game.
Worse, Dead Space doesn't even use the ideas it steals well. You can see the "shocking" plot twists coming from light years away, and yet the game acts as though these predictable reveals weren't as obvious as the nose on your face (especially if you've seen the movies I cited above).
Sometimes, Dead Space's story plays out like a pastiche put together by enthusiastic grade schoolers over a lunch hour -- everything here you've already seen elsewhere, often done better.
The scares (such as they are) are woefully predictable. By game's end, I was able to anticipate when I would be attacked with alarming accuracy.
And the game isn't actually creepy, either, for all the supernatural overtones it plays with (yet never explains enough to make interesting). The scares here are only shocks -- of the "Rawr! Eek!" variety. It's a monster-shooter game. The plot promises more than it ever delivers.
The last great sin of Dead Space is that you play on rails. By the end of the game (at the very latest) you should definitely know that something's hinky -- but the game decides for you that you're a moron who hasn't figured anything out, and forces you to a conclusion many gamers wouldn't choose if they could choose.
And the "shock ending?" I won't spoiler, but it's a straight-up steal from another source as well. And true to Dead Space, it makes no sense, either. It's obvious somebody thought it would make a good "shock" moment and just threw it in, story be damned.
If all you want is a horror shooter, there are better options out there already (the FEAR series, for one), and if you want any kind of engaging story to go with Dead Space's lovely visuals, forget it.
A rental, at best. Save your money.