Like most science fiction survival horror games of our times, Dead Space starts off with a search and rescue mission — heeding to a distress call from a mining ship called the USG Ishimura. Needless to say things take a sour turn as the rescue ship crashes into the ship in distress. Everything then goes from bad to worse for the three surviving members of the rescue mission, and the priorities shift from rescue to survival. In the thick of this is our protagonist, an engineer named Isaac Clarke (named after science fiction writers Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke).
As the game progresses, you discover that the USG Ishimura was illegally carrying out a mission in restricted space and nearly its entire crew has fallen victim to an alien infestation. The good news is that the infestation is capable of reanimating the dead into nasty and grotesque creatures. Time to lock and load!
Resident Doom Bio Space (Something Borrowed)
Dead Space takes cues from several successful games in this genre to set up an atmosphere rife with fear, and a claustrophobic feeling of impending doom. As an engineer, your task through most of the game is to fix the failing systems of the USG Ishimura and to make it space-worthy enough to get the hell out of there. Assisting Isaac on his mission is a protective suit of armor (rig) and a decent selection of weapons. An improved version of the suit, that offers better protection and weapons can be purchased at shopping kiosks that are scattered throughout the ship, in exchange for credits. Along with all the weapons, the suit can be upgraded at work benches by using power nodes that can either be bought or found around the ship. Using power nodes to upgrade the suit will improve your hit-points and oxygen capacity. The rig is also equipped with two other abilities: telekinesis, that lets you manipulate object remotely like some sort of gravity gun… and stasis — that slows down objects and creatures. The abilities find use both in combat and outside, the latter to solve environmental puzzles.
These abilities can be upgraded to increase their range and duration. Similarly, upgrading weapons will increase their damage, ammo capacity and reduce the reload time. On accessing a work bench, the game opens up a non-linear upgrade path that can be compared to a circuit board with empty power node slots. There are various options available with the upgrade path and depending on your playing style you can choose the attributes that you want to upgrade while ignoring the rest. Having said that, I feel that choosing between the upgrade options is more of a necessity than choice as there aren’t nearly enough nodes available to fully upgrade your arsenal. This also leads the player to select a playing style that further intertwines with your choice of upgrades.
Watch My Back (Something New)
While the game borrows from its genre-leaders, the developers at Redwood Shores Studio have also introduced some very unique elements. First up is the game’s style of heads-up display (HUD) and storytelling: the designers have completely done away with the traditional style of displaying information and replaced it with a well thought out way of interfacing with the environment and displaying vital information. The game plays in an over-the-shoulder camera mode, so health is displayed in the form of ‘a spine’ on the back of Isaac’s rig that extends from his neck to his lower back.
Other details like map, inventory and mission objectives, along with video conversations are displayed using holographic projections that do not interrupt the game’s flow and allows the player to continue navigating and interacting with the environment. This adds a dose of immersion into the game and also retains the continuity and atmosphere of this science fiction title. Additionally, the game does way with weapon crosshair and instead features an aiming mechanism in the form light beams that extends out the weapons. Also worth mentioning is the level of detail and realism implemented in the main character model. Idle animation shows Isaac’s body slightly raising and falling as he breathes and his fingers on the weapons moving over and across it, from time to time. Isaac’s head moves and follows objects depending on whether he is watching a holographic projection or assess
Developer: Redwood Studios
Distributors / Prices
Redington / Rs 2,499 (Xbox 360)
Milestone Interactive Software Limited / Rs 2,799 (PS3)
Excel / Rs 999 (PC)