Dead Space

WADE MANNS – The Corsair

By Electronic Arts

Genre: Third-person survival horror

Rating: Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

This incredibly atmospheric and scary survival horror science-fiction game, released back in 2008, has recently received a sequel, so why not go back where it all started, to the beginning of the nightmare?

On the colony planet Aegis VII, in the year 2508, a large stalagmite-like structure covered in strange runes is discovered. This ancient artifact, known as a Marker, soon becomes quite dangerous, driving colonists to mass murder-suicide. Soon after their deaths, a mysterious virus entered their bodies, re-animating them in grotesque ways. The resultant beings, known as Necromorphs, seek only to kill others and make more of their kind, with their sharp appendages, tentacles and infected projectiles.

When it was removed to the mining ship USG Ishimura, the Marker began affecting the crewmembers similarly to those on the planet, driving them mad and eventually to killing themselves. Then the Necromorph-creating virus was then somehow brought on-board. It is up to Isaac Clarke, a lowly engineer protected by a hard mining suit designed to protect in cases of zero-g and vacuum incursions, to discover the source of the Necromorphs and destroy the Marker.

Gameplay adheres to the survival-horror staples introduced as early as Resident Evil, though Electronic Arts changed things up a bit; you could strafe (move side-to-side) while aiming, the aforementioned zero-gravity and vacuum areas (in which you had to keep topping up your oxygen with found canisters) were added, and the biggest change in games of this type: headshots do not necessarily kill instantly, bringing into gameplay a tactic known as strategic dismemberment.

The Necromorphs’ life force does not seem to be concentrated in their heads like most video game enemies, but through their whole bodies. Cut off a limb with the decidedly mining-inspired weaponry, and they’re slowed down; cut off two or more, and they’re down for good.

Isaac’s heavy mining suit makes him very slow (there’s no full-on sprinting in this game) but aside from being upgradeable at special workbenches (along with his weapons), is equipped with heavy gauntlets and boots that allow him to finish the job on recalcitrant Necros. It’s also a good idea to stomp any bodies you come across as well, so they cannot rise to harass you later.

This is a very good-looking game, for what it is: extremely gory. You will see bodies of Necromorph victims splattered throughout the Ishimura, and the Necros themselves are, on the whole, totally disgusting; for better or worse, you won’t have any misgivings about putting them down. Actually doing the deed, however, is a different story; as with all survival horror, the main objective is to survive near-insurmountable odds, which sometimes entails watching poor Isaac die multiple times until you get the path of destruction just right. Fortunately, the story is strong, the gameplay solid and the presentation compelling. Five stars out of five for this first game!