If not an unquestioned hit, the first game on our list is surely an event in the genre of third-person shooters. Dead Space is especially in contrast with the ongoing campaign to reduce violence in video games. Violence, though justified strategically, is the foundation of this project. When you sit down to play Dead Space for a first time, you may be surprised to find your character to be a humble engineer instead of an armed tough trooper who’d easily wipe out legions of monsters. As you find yourself on board a contaminated spaceship and, being a technician, without any gun or something, you have to learn to get along with what you have at hand to kill your enemies. It may be a plasma chopper or a gas burner or anything.
As becomes a civilian, Isaac Clarke – that’s the name of the hero – is highly vulnerable. So, instead of an easy trip with a huge gun in hand, you are up to a multi-hour game of hide-and-seek with death lurking in every corner. Pulling down the trigger when you spot an enemy doesn’t always work here. The local monsters boast tremendous vitality and can easily sustain a squall of random fire. In fact, the style of encounters in Dead Space might be characterized as “strategic dismemberment”: cutting off the head of a mutant slows it down considerably on its way to your character’s throat and you have enough time to finish it more or less confidently by cutting off one of its hands with a disc saw. That’s something you have to do throughout the entire game. Although Isaac’s tools are not real weapons, they do spend “ammunition.” And ammunition being rather scanty, you have to save it whenever possible.
The game’s plot is not too complicated and contains allusions to popular games and movies (Aliens, Event Horizon, System Shock, Halo, Half-Life, etc): an unsuccessful landing of the repairs ship Kellion that had come to rescue after receiving a distress call from the mining platform Ishimura, a violent death of the pilots, a main hero being cut off from the rest of the crew. You find out the cause of all the trouble soon enough: an alien form of life had come on board Ishimura together with a mysterious artifact. And this form of life consumes organic materials. It had killed almost the entire crew in shortest time, transforming them into terrible monsters called Necromorphs.
Isaac’s goal is simple at first. He needs to reunite with the Kellion crew to find a way to get out of the infected ship, but you are up to a few surprises as the game plot makes some unexpected twists. The game’s overall atmosphere deserves highest praise. The developers have avoided the standards of Doom 3. For example, if the lights go out in the room, it doesn’t mean you are going to be attacked now. You may be attacked later on or not attacked at all – you just can’t predict it. Thus, the game turns on the paranoid part of you, making you shudder at every sound. Dead Space is indeed so scary that we wouldn’t recommend you to play it alone at night.
From the technical aspect, Dead Space is based on EA’s own game engine that supports all the features provided by modern graphics cards. The visuals are outstanding, the certain bleakness of textures typical of every multiplatform project being made up for by special effects. Theoretically, Dead Space should run at a sufficiently high speed on modest graphics cards. Let’s check this out right now.