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Posts Tagged ‘Dead Space’

Pre-Game of the Year 2011: Part 2

One of my favorite video game genres growing up was survival horror.  Mostly playing games from the Resident Evil series, the thing I enjoyed most about them, aside from the scenes of explicit violence and gore, was how they made me feel while I played.  Almost like the video game equivalent of a roller coaster, there was plenty of screaming and even more adrenaline.  Fast forward from the mid-to-late 90s all the way up to 2008 and the survival horror genre was ebbing.  That all changed when the predecessor for one of my top picks for this year hit the scene that October.  That’s right, today we’re going to be talking about Dead Space.

 

The first thing Dead Space did right was the marketing campaign.  Released in the months before the game released, the motion comic prequel painted a fantastic picture of the setting for the series while not giving enough away.  Pair that with the amazing set of trailers, one of which I keep handy on my PS3 in case I want to watch it, and I was itching to play the game by the time it came out.

The most important aspect of a horror game comes down to how you feel while you’re playing.  The depth and detail of the dark and bloody hallways of the Ishimura, the ship you’re trying to escape, paint a horrific picture of loneliness and desperation.  The loneliness part of it doesn’t last very long as the monstrous necromorphs begin their assault on you early and often.  In short, the stark contrast of the chaos going on inside the Ishimura and the calm of the outer space just outside is beautiful, if a bit gory and terrifying.

Even more important than graphics, when dealing with horror, is the sound design.  This is one of the places where Dead Space truly shines.  The game has an incredibly moody and well-implemented dynamic soundtrack to really get your blood pumping during the action scenes.  More important however, are the myriad of little sound effects that’ve cleverly placed through the game.  Walking down a completely quiet hallway, you’ll suddenly hear a metal pipe fall to the floor.  Occasionally, a light skittering sound can be heard in the air duct above you.  It’s hard not to appreciate how a game can be equally scary during a scene that is almost completely quiet and one where the speakers are blaring as you fight off monsters.

One thing that has always helped to immerse me in any game I’ve played are those audio logs that you find throughout the world.  Dead Space is largely about getting from Point A to Point B and solving a puzzle once you get to that secondary location.  The audio logs help to keep you immersed in the world as you go through and really helps to make your tasks feel less like you’re playing a game and more like you’re participating in the story.

An essential part of any survival horror game is a lack of available supplies.  It really adds to the tension of the environment when you have to strategically use your ammo in such a way that doesn’t leave you staring down the maw of a giant monster with nothing but your high-pitched screams to combat it.  While on the easy mode, ammo is plentiful and easy to come by, as you go up through the ranks of difficulty, not only does the ammo become more scarce, the enemies get harder to kill.

In Dead Space 2, it takes all of the things that were great about the original and super sizes them.  The new necromorph types, both the large and small, offer new ways of dealing with being attacked.  The Sprawl, a giant facility located on one of Saturn’s moons which is the setting for the sequel, is even bigger and has a lot more variety than the Ishimura.  One of my favorite things about Dead Space 2, is that it takes you straight into lion’s den for a lot of the conspiracy that the first game only talked about.  A new multiplayer mode, where players are divided into humans versus necromorphs, was also included, adding even more replay value.  If you’re looking for a game that will thrill you, and possibly scare you, look no further.  I’ll see you next time for another Pre-Game of the Year choice.  If in the meantime you want to convince EA to announce Dead Space 3, I would be very thankful.

Dead Space 2: A Symphony of Dismemberment

After several movies, books, comics and prequel games, Dead Space 2 has finally arrived.  Personally, I have been waiting for this game for quite a while.  As a huge fan of the original game and an owner of far too much other Dead Space media, this game release could not have come soon enough.  The hype leading up to it has been pretty substantial, but after playing it myself I truly think we may already have one of the best games of this year.

You can tell that you like Dead Space just a little too much when the rewards for all the past games, DLC, pre-order and special-edition rewards take abut twenty minutes to load.  Several special pieces of armor and guns come along with being a long-time fan and my personal favorite so far has been the refurbished plasma cutter, which you get for having played Dead Space.  It gives you the option of having your standard gun look the same as in the previous game.  For playing through Dead Space: Ignition you get a special suit as well as a couple of otherwise inaccessible rooms.  Don’t worry if you haven’t played it, there isn’t anything too crazy in there aside from a couple items and some audio logs from the main character of that game.

Did you like Dead Space?  Of course you did and that’s one of the reasons you’d want to go and and pick this game up, but no sequel is complete without some changes.  The controls operate at the same level.  They do feel a bit more loose, but that can actually be adjusted in the options.  The best new features are more of what’s included than how it controls.  There are a slew of new weapons included in the game all of which are fun and add a new depth to the gameplay.  My personal favorite is the javelin gun, which lets you shoot a spear at enemies, pinning them up against any nearby walls.  Another new feature is the ability to shoot out windows opening up a vacuum in the room, sucking all the enemies out.  The only twist being, you’ll be sucked out as well if you don’t shoot a target that seals the room.

New enemies also abound and there are some disturbing ones this go around.  One of these foes includes a baby necromorph called a Crawler, which is an infant with an exploding tumor on its back that crawls toward you.  They are usually in abundance and if they get too close to you, they can be quite deadly.  All of the old favorites are back as well including my nemesis, the Infector which turns corpses into more necromorphs.  Good thing for me, they improved the stomping mechanic, making Isaac more stomp-happy in this game which makes it easier to dismember corpses laying around.

How did you feel about the zero-gravity sections in the first game?  Well, love them or hate them, they’ve been changed for the better this time around.  Now, Isaac is able to use his jet boots to fly around freely during the zero-gravity sections which makes for some fun and interesting puzzle-solving and combat situations.  The set-pieces built into the Sprawl, are awesome to behold and fun to travel through.  There is an immense amount of detail put into everything and it’s hard to believe, but all the work put into this game puts its predecessor to shame.   Not only is each environment detailed, but they also managed to include an amazing amount of variance.  It never feels like you’ve been in an area before, unless you’re actually revisiting someplace, and that is certainly something to celebrate in a game set on a space station.

Not very many games today can truly say they’ve accomplished being scary.  Dead Space 2 is one of those that can.  While some of the scariness comes from necromorphs popping out of tiny monster-closets, the bulk of it is evoked by what I like to call the “oh crap, oh crap” factor.  The first time I ever experienced this was in Resident Evil 4 when I was being surrounded by crazed villagers wielding chainsaws.  It’s not so much about jump scaring as it is about the feeling of being so totally outnumbered and overwhelmed there’s no way you’ll make it out alive.  The original Dead Space managed to capture the essence of this feeling quite well and its sequel has mastered it.  It doles out ammo in low enough amounts that you always have to keep a eye on it and the massive battles are thrilling.

All of this sounds pretty awesome, right?  Well, I haven’t even gotten to the part where the game has multiplayer.  In a move quite similar to the Left 4 Dead franchise, this game’s multiplayer has you playing as either an Isaac Clarke clone or one of the various kinds of necromorph.  The progression follows a very similar pattern to Call of Duty where you are obtaining new abilities and power ups as you gain more experience as you play.  The modes include the good guys trying to achieve a certain objective while the necromorph team does whatever they can to keep them from getting there.  It’s a ton of fun and was a brilliant way of integrating the awesome gameplay of the main game into something people could play together.

As I wrap up this lengthy review, the final question that we’re trying to answer here is whether or not you should pick up this game.  To be perfectly honest, this game is a fairly intense horror game and if that’s not your thing, then do not waste your time with this game.  If you are anyone else, then you need to own this game yesterday!  It’s worth your money to go and get now.  I officially give Dead Space 2 my seal of approval and recommend you to buy this game.  Now, I have to go and start playing through the game with my new game plus.  Keep your eyes open for my review of the single-player DLC coming soon.

Episode LXXXII: And The Oscar Goes To…Chuck Norris!

And if he were nominated, he’d make sure he’d sweep the ceremonies…with his roundhouse kick!

This week the Bastards do everything they can to piss off Glee creator Ryan Murphy, siding with Kings of Leon on why he’s such a bitch. King Baby Duck reviews the demos for the WiiWare games Furry Legends and Fish ‘Em All, he and Blueonic share their thoughts on the Crysis 2 multiplayer demo, and the Duck goes gaga over the demo for Bulletstorm and somewhat shrugs off the PS3 remake of Dead Space: Extraction. Anvil and Nenya give their take on the world of sports, Anvil takes a look at The Mechanic and the B3 crew give their picks for this year’s Oscar Nominations.

Dead Space: Martyr Review (Warning: Dead Space Spoilers)

When was the last time I referenced Dead Space in one of my articles?  Oh who cares, because I just finished reading Dead Space: Martyr and, as promised, I am ready to blab.  Just to make this very clear, if you are interested in playing the original Dead Space and you have not yet done so then, due to some spoilage, right about here might be a good place to stop reading.

Altman be praised, was a phrase you have heard quite a bit if you’ve played EA’s hit space horror game Dead Space, but who the heck is Altman and why are these crazy people praising him?  This is the question that writer B. K. Evenson seeks to answer in Dead Space: Martyr.  It chronicles Michael Altman, the famed founder of the Unitology religion from the aforementioned series and tells the tale of the discovery of the original marker.  While the story is a little predictable, as prequels often can be, and it is not as action-packed as it could have been, I did enjoy it.

One of the best parts, in my opinion, of Dead Space was listening to and reading the wealth of backstory that they gave you through the audio logs and text logs.  With the motion comic series backing that up as well, there was more than just a little bit of thought put into how that whole mess went down.  One of the most interesting, and integral, parts of the story was the Church of Unitology.  B. K. Evenson, being no stranger to the horror genre having written several award-horror novels, took grand advantage of all that was there for him.  The book was chock full of references that either made me feel like I understood the fiction a lot better, or just facepalm.

Without ruining the whole thing for all of you fine people out there, the way everything turned out actually made me extremely excited to see what Dead Space 2 has in store for us early next year.  All of the big things that needed to be there made an appearance: People being driven mad, a giant twisty obelisk, hallucinations of dead people, necromorphs and even the plasma cutter made its debut.  There were however, a few things in there that either confused me, or simply made me shake my head.  I noticed throughout the story that I was hearing quite a few familiar names floating around.  Hammond and Ishimura were both scientists in the book, but were a key character and the name of the ship in the game.  Probably the biggest one that made me raise an eyebrow was a dream sequence at one point where the main character is very obviously dreaming about Isaac Clarke walking through the halls of the Ishimura.  While it’s not quite as bad as the first-person shooting sequence in the Doom movie, it’s still a little on the nose for me.

The action of the Dead Space game drops you into the fray in a matter of minutes and is a frantic gory ride from then on.  If you were hoping that this book was going to be the same, then it may not be the right one for you.  While the story is incredibly tense the entire time and is full of government coverups and double-crosses galore, the dismemberment action doesn’t start until about three-quarters of the way through the book.  If you loved going through the logs and watching the motion-comics, then you will likely enjoy this book.  If it is mainly the chopping and stomping action that brought you to the bloody halls of the Ishimura, then perhaps get a synopsis from a buddy.

When I started reading this book, one of the first things that I noticed was that it was separated into named parts.  Having been thrilled by the awesome first letter of every chapter reveal from Dead Space, I thought that surely there would be a nod in the form of some kind of message in the book.  Unfortunately, unless PCNDCHE means something that I’m just not catching, there is no message here.

For my official verdict on the book I am going to say: Rent it.

Since it is a book, I suppose this means that you should head out to your local library and see if they’ve got a copy of it in.  Or you could borrow it from a buddy.  While it was certainly worth it to me to purchase the book, it is not going to be for everybody, but may at least be worth a try.  Well, time for me to get cracking on Dead Space: Extraction.  Altman be praised!

Slow Summer Days Survival Guide

Those lazy days of summer are upon us and with them they’ve brought along another game release drought.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a few gems out there if you’re into things like crafting stars, but what are you to do to fulfill that console itch?  I’m here to remind you that there are still options for you out there.

The Backlog:

We’ve all got them, the games that have been gathering dust on our shelves for months, or occasionally years, just waiting for you to dive right in.  Now is a perfect time to give them the attention they crave.  Personally, I have a good five or six that not only haven’t been played, but are still shrink-wrapped.  Slow times like these are a great excuse to pull off the wrapping and get going on those forgotten classics.  In addition, if you’ve got some extra cash laying around, take a gander at your local game retailer.  You never know how much the game you’d been meaning to play but never picked up has dropped in price.

The Downloadables:

Despite the fact that Nintendo’s virtual console is barely throwing us crumbs nowadays, there are plenty of fun and affordable times to be had with downloadable games.  Limbo is a prime example of an incredibly fun title that is only available via download.  The price of said games is another good reason to consider this option.  Even if you’re looking for something to tide you over for a very long time, you can get awesome stuff like Grandia or one of the Final Fantasy games as a PSOne Classic.

The Completionist:

Even when you’ve played through everything you own, with trophies and achievements, there is always more to do.  With the recent Dead Space kick I’ve been going through, I went back and got my platinum medal and it was honestly a blast.  Going for that one-hundred percent in a game can be rewarding in many ways.  Sure, you get that wonderful notch on your TV stand, but it also helps you to explore areas of the game you hadn’t considered.  I highly recommend doing it at least once, perhaps with one of your favorites.

It will not be long before the hits start coming faster than you can open your wallet, but take this time and enjoy your games.  Perhaps you can even pull off a triple-threat by getting a one-hundred percent complete on one of the downloadable games in your backlog.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a backlog on my Nintendo 64, so I need to get cracking.