Dead Space PC Review

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Sci-fi, Horror and Gaming, that’s a combination you can’t go wrong with… at least for me, I love all three, and when you combine them I’m in heaven! Dead Space combines all three of these to form an excellent and exciting game that will keep you enthralled for quite some time.

Dead Space redefines the survival horror genre with a storyline that is full of suspense, intrigue and surprises. Gameplay is well done, though I don’t particularly care for the third-person view, I would have rather had first person, but it works well for this game. Graphics are spectacular overall, very nicely done and fairly realistic as well. Dead Space wasn’t exactly what I would call scary, but it is a gory and hellish bloodfest of carnage and death that will make any horror fan ecstatic with glee.

I think Dead Space would have been a bit more scary had it been done from the first person perspective because with the third person view you really can see what’s coming so there aren’t many real surprises to scare you. I did find myself lost in gameplay though, so it’s very engrossing, I would start playing and the next thing I knew a couple hours had gone by without me even noticing it, but only a couple hours at a time is all I could stand  as it’s a bit repetitive with the tasks that you’re ordered to do. 

If you’re a fan of b-movie horror, sci-fi and gaming then I can highly recommend you grabbing Dead Space for your collection.

So continue on for my impressions, a couple short movies, a boat load of screenshots and see how it performed on my Diamond HD 4870 1Gig video card.

So, here’s the box shots:

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Specifications:
Dead Space

Set in the cold blackness of deep space, the atmosphere is soaked with a feeling of tension, dread and sheer terror. In Dead Space, players step into the role of engineer Isaac Clarke – an ordinary man on a seemingly routine mission to fix the communications systems aboard a deep space mining ship. It is not long before Isaac awakes to a living nightmare when he learns that the ship’s crew has been ravaged by a vicious alien infestation. He must fight through the dead silence and darkness of deep space to stay alive.

Gameplay is fine really, but it does take a bit to get accustomed to the third person view, I found it a bit disconcerting at first. I think it would have been better had it been done in first person but  that’s my opinion, and first person is my preference because it makes you feel like you’re really in the game, with third person it’s more like you’re a spectator than actually playing the role of the main character.

The monsters, as you’ll find out, are actually the crew that were changed into these creatures by the Marker. Unlike other games these monsters are tough, and have to be dismembered actually, cut of their arms, legs and heads to kill them. You can attack their bodies but it takes much more to kill them than by dismembering them. Of course that’s where the blood and gore comes in as well, dismembering them, as expected creates quite a mess, but it’s a good mess. You’ll not only dismember monsters though, you’ll cut up the dead humans as well unless you want them to rise up and attack you. There’s one creature called the Infector that infects dead bodies with whatever it is to make them turn into monsters, but they won’t bother with bodies that are in pieces, I guess they prefer whole bodies as they’ll work better.

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The actual story seems like it should be interesting but once you get started you realize that it sounds a bit familiar and fairly unoriginal, it seems like they grabbed a few different ideas from movies and threw them together to come up with the story behind Dead Space. While it does seem a bit re-hashed it is an intriguing storyline, and yeah it’s familiar but it makes for a good background story for a game, and might make for a good movie as well.

The whole Isaac trying to find his girlfriend thing is there in the background, but you just don’t ‘feel’ it, it’s like it’s this objective in the back of his mind that he’ll get to eventually. In the beginning you get the idea that the two are in love etc, but that’s about as far as it goes really. Personally if I was on that ship and I just found out what happened there, I think I would have finding her my first priority, or at least a bit higher on the list than it seems to be.

If you put the cheesy storyline aside, you’ve got a decent game that offers quite a bit in the way of fun, but it’s only fun to a point as it can get rather repetitive with the old ‘do this,then do this, then do this, then now wait this happened so you’ll have to do this first before you do that, etc,etc,etc’ routine that just gets annoying. The whole game you’re being told what to do by the captain and whoever she is, but they don’t do anything to help the situation, they always seem to be stuck somewhere and can’t do this or do that. I mean they’re on a ship full of monsters in deep space with a very slim chance of living and really all they can do is give orders to Isaac, you’d think they might want to take more of an active role in getting off the ship, but no…

Dead Space might have been more fun had it been first person and had it be more of a free roam type of game, frankly, I’m getting tired of the keep moving forward type of games where you do this and do that to accomplish your goal, then rinse and repeat over and over again.

During the game you’ll find stores to buy things you’ll need like oxygen, medkits, and of course ammo and weapons. The interesting thing about the store and it’s contents is that you need to find the schematics first, take them back to the store, then the item is available to buy. It’s just basically an unlock, I would have liked to have just been able to find the weapons as you’re playing, but that’s the system. If you think about it though, you’re on a ship, that’s been ravaged by essentially an alien life form and there’s no weapons lying around, but you can find ammo all over the place for these weapons. Seriously though it’s like no one fought the aliens with weapons, you’d think in such a battlefield you’d find weapons lying around, I’m guessing it’s a smart alien life form that gathered up and hid all of the weapons, but yet wasn’t smart enough to hide the ammo or destroy the stores where you buy the weapons… and about the weapons, there’s only one real weapon, a machine gun type pulse rifle, the other ‘weapons’ are re-purposed tools, like a futuristic circular saw that can shoot spinning blades out or you can magnetically control the blade to slice through monsters at a distance.

You also have a suit, that’s a combination battle and maintenance suit, as you find out at the beginning Isaac is just basically a repairman/engineer/hacker, he’s apparently you’re go to guy when there’s problem be it a computer or alien virus or a hull breech. On  the back of the suit is what looks like a glowing spine, but it’s actually your health bar, and there’s also a stasis gauge as well.

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You can upgrade your suit and weapons with work benches you’ll comes across, it’s supposedly nano-technology that allows you to alter the circuitry of said items to increase their capacity, damage etc. You need to collect power nodes though to do this, and you’ll usually find them in boxes stuck on the walls.

You also have the power of Stasis, which just slows things down, something we’ve seen in other games often lately. There are certain parts of the game where you have to use stasis to get through, like a malfunctioning door that’s opening and closing fast, you use stasis to slow it down to get through. You can also use stasis on enemies, it comes in handy when a bunch come at you all at once. You can hit them with stasis and then just pick off their limbs and watch the blood spray.

You also have telekinesis, or just Kinesis as the game calls it, that allows you to move things, which can also come in handy when fighting as you can pick up things and throw at your enemies. What I can’t figure out is why can’t Isaac use his hands to flip switches, he has to use Kinesis to do it…dunno

As for graphics performance, my Diamond Radeon HD 4870 1gig handled it fairly well even with the settings on high, though there were slowdowns at some points. One thing different about Dead Space is that there are no levels to adjust AntiAliasing, it’s either on or off, turning it off did lead to a performance gain and not much noticeable difference in the graphics, unless you really look closely. Turning off antialiasing did get the minimum framerate over the magical 30, so it’s well worth it to do this.

I used FRAPS to get the Min, Max and Average Frame rates, since the game isn’t exactly the same each time, I ran though the same level  three times on each setting and averaged out the results. The average frame rates really don’t change much at all, but the minimum and max change when disabling antialiasing.

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Here’s a brief 30 second clip:

and there’s three more at our Viddler account HERE, HERE and HERE.


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Conclusion:
Dead Space is the kind of game you’re going to either love or hate, and while it might seem I was a bit hard on it, I do like it quite a bit, but I also like b horror movies as well, and most anything sci-fi, so it works well for me. It is a bit over the top at times with the blood and gore but that’s part of it’s charm, and that’s also the part some people might not like.

If you’re a fan of sci-fi and horror then pick it up and have some fun, you can easily spend over 12 hours playing it. Once you complete it you’ll unlock  the Military Suit, Backstory, 50000 credits, 10 Power Nodes and Impossible Mode and then start all over again.

I’d like to see a sequel to Dead Space as there is potential with the whole premise, but it would have to be done a bit better than this was to make it worth buying.

Pros:
Gameplay and controls are familiar
Great graphics
Good bloody fun
Sci-fi, horror and gaming combined

Cons:
Third person takes a bit to get accustomed to
No character development, re-hashed, thrown together storyline
Need a good video card to really enjoy graphics 

Grades:  
Overall score-8-10
Design score-8-10
Performance score-9-10
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  • Adam

    I don’t know what the rest of your system consists of, but on my system with a 512Mb 4870 @ 1600×1200 everything maxed out it rarely drops below 120ish. Did you make sure to disable v-sync? It is on by default and makes the controls real choppy and has a significant impact on your frame rate.

  • Kristofer

    No I had vsync enabled…

  • Jin

    The PC controls stink to high heaven too. If you have a joystick plugged in, you might encounter this constant rotation which makes the game unplayable. It is hard to remap the controls too.

    Horribly, horribly, horribly shoddy porting effort.

  • Marcos

    Fantastic game ! Also performance wise it’s a winner ! I don’t know about the reviewer claiming such low fps. I get +30 all the time, 1920×1200, all maxed on 2 X 8800GT 512MB. This game proves current hardware can do the job, no need to upgrade just because of 1 game. See the requirements : video 64MB ! Ok, this is a close quarter game in general, no real wilderness or savannah to render with windefects etc, but yet, for me it’s proof for perfect programming/coding ! A must buy for everyone !

  • Dale

    It would have been good except for two major faults.

    Third person perspective just doesn’t cut it for a game like this, it really needs full immersionand for the player to feel that they are Isaac and not just some grunt looking over his shoulder. Having things jump out on you isn’t the same when it’s happening to “someone else”. Even allowing a switch from first to third person would have been better. Players could have chosen their own preference.

    My second gripe is that I am left handed and on the PC, WSAD isn’t an option for me because my left hand operates the mouse. I have always preferred the arrow keys but you can’t re-assign them since they are permanently mapped to the heads up displays. This is a major failing for this game as it makes the game almost unplayable for me. I’m not about to go out and buy a 360 controller for just one game, I am only glad I played it at a friends house instead of buying it first.

    For the PC version, I give it 5/10 Good graphics, smooth gameplay but let down by third person and standard arrow keys for this type of game are unmappable.

  • the man who knows more then you :/ yes

    hi … i started playing DS some time ago aaaaaaaaaaaaand i have to say that on the first place the performance is good. the game works fine (all details on) on midhigh pcs. against the critics that there are some bugs with lights and items and physics i have to say that the game has a really high potential in hiding those problems behind a fluently gloomy gameplay that keeps your focus on survival, combat, gaining items, your teammates, etc. the logic problems like “ohh every monster has -1- random item in itsself, never a weapon, also there are no weapons on the ship and the crewmates never help and the noone destroys the shops…” etc. –are easy to explain ..=>this is a game with its own rules and not your reality DEAL WITH IT!. about the “stealing” aspect that was told about … i dont believe in stealing … every art is created by twisted/mixed up/changed reality or earlier ideas …about the critics on the repetitive factor i just have to say => if its to short ppl start whine – if its to long ppl whine because of repititions …f.ex HL2 … i think it is short … but with more lenght everyone would have cried about repitions … so dead space has a good lenght!
    also the perspective thing with the camera … it is atleast 90-95% of that wht fps would have been, so stop complaining – it brings you deeper into the game …especially the moments when your turning “bugs” … you get a bit hushy and thats what facing those creatures should be! it is NO noticable loss
    my score for the game is 8.8/10 as a preranking by playing it “some” hours … my critics … the game could do some more soulful horror moments to improve atmosphere and show the developers love f.ex … i looked at the vitachamber where a monster was dead in swimming …i looked at it 30 seconds … always being sure that i would turn alive and instantly hit its hands against the glass to shock me … but such moments where missing … if the atmosphere would be perfect i could maybe give up to 9.5/10

  • Mr_feltpen

    I love this game, It has the gore and horror qualitys of doom 3 combined with the puzzle element of half life 2.I think the 3rd person view works well because you can die in graphic carnage.
    Also the stomping limbs off and boxes open would not have worked in first person view.
    A break from the norm, the graphics are great and DX10 looks amazing after being disapoint when buying stalker clear sky (which is malware don’t buy it) and the repentivness of far cry 2 which in my opinion was stecthed out (Oh no anougher car with a couple of bloke is attacking me).
    With dead space they have also used the bioshock thing where you can buy stuff at a store, upgrade equitment it has it all, loads of horrid monsters/aliens, I highly recomend this game.

  • Mr_feltpen

    I did have probs with lighting effects to start with but when I turnt the V-sync on it solved this problem fps dropped a bit,but V-sync works with the refresh rate of your monitor so if u can put your refresh rate up to 70 you should be OK.

  • nameless

    Dead space has great graphics but…bad lag issues and repetitiveness kill this game. I was seriously amped up to buy this game but after playing it at my friends house…not so much. All it’s control issues and lack of variety seem to turn this game into a must buy to I’ll see if I have any change.

    despite all its bugs it actually is pretty fun (for a few hours) if they ever release a patch fixing the pc control scheme I “might” think about getting it. Its a real pity they managed to stuff up a potentially great pc game but for now it just remains merely average : (

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