Deadspace

Posted: January 21, 2009 in Gaming

Isaac’s eyes strained against the
darkness.  Were things moving in there, or were his eyes flashing
phosphenes again?  The tiny circle of light on his plasma cutter was
woefully insufficient.  The tool had served him well in his work as an
engineer, and was now serving double-duty carving the limbs off of the Ishimura’s
former crew, but a work light will always be just that.  The speed of
the tentacle was beyond belief.  The pressure suit that had saved Isaac’s
life time and again in the past few days on the nightmarish mining ship kept
him conscious as his legs were yanked out from under him.  His head hit
the deck with a cartoonish bonk, and then the rigid plates on his suit alerted
him that he was being dragged.  The motion was erratic at best, but Isaac
knew he had to get free.  Whatever was at the end of this tentacle
probably didn’t want casual conversation.  He clenched his abdomen and
sighted along his legs until he could see biomass in the spotlight of his
plasma cutter.  The snaking tentacle combined with the dragging motion to
ruin his aim, but the cutter was a forgiving weapon in this respect.
Isaac fired every charge in the power cell at the horror around his
ankles.  Nine eighteen inch long planes of energized matter raced along
the path of the light.  Deck panelling melted, pipes and cabling
separated, and finally a shot hit home on the tentacle.  The crushing
pressure eased off of his ankles, and the remnant of whatever beast had grabbed
him raced away like a loose firehose.  Isaac guessed something else would
have to kill him.

So I finished Deadspace a while back.
I also decided I was probably going to write about it, and at 4 AM on the
morning of the first day of my semester, I started.  Nice timing,
huh?  I’d like to start out by saying that generally speaking, I hate
survival horror.  The first Resident Evil (the remake for Gamecube) did
not have enough ammo to kill all the monsters in the game.  I don’t mind
ammunition being tight all the time.  Pressure to perform well as an
unquiet corpse lurches at me is what I’m looking for.  I want to be
scared, but I play games as entertainment because I want to be part of a
story.  I’m even ok with death in the story, so long as it isn’t an
ignominious end at the hands of some mook in the early game.  No bullets
takes the survival out of survival horror.  While I’m beating this
particular horse, I also don’t want to put up with some “unique to only
this game” control scheme if I’m not even going to have enough bullets to
get through the game.  The STARs are supposed to be like a SWAT
team.  Let them move as such!

Now then:  Deadspace scratched an itch
I wasn’t sure I had.  RE(GC) was pretty but had the problems I just
mentioned.  Deadspace is gorgeous (at least, as ruined mining ships in
terrible states of disrepair and infested with alien zombies go).  The Ishimura
is a Planet Cracker mining ship that has lost contact with the company and the
player steps into the pressure suit of Isaac Clarke, engineer extraordinaire.  Isaac has an ulterior motive for going, and
he obsessively replays the last transmission from his estranged significant
other who is stationed on the Ishimura.
Naturally, the approach to the disabled ship goes poorly, and renders
Isaac unable to leave the ship.

The game is fairly forgiving of death.  There is the capability of saving at any of
the reasonably frequent save stations, but if one were to go for an hour or
more without saving and then die, the game sticks you back at the last
checkpoint.  There is no blatant alert as
to where these checkpoints are, because great pains have been taken to enhance
the immersion factor of the game.

There is no HUD in this game.  The visual real estate is wholly devoted to
the world that Isaac is in.  The player
can monitor Isaac’s healt and stasis charge via a bar running up the spine of
the suit, and a crescent on the left shoulder, respectively.  When our hero steps into a vacuum, a
holographic timer is projected from his back showing the amount of available
breathable air.  All of the weaponry have
ammo counters on the weapons themselves.
Even the inventory screen is a holographic projection.  On a related note, bringing up the inventory
list (or activating any device, really) in a room that hasn’t been swept is a
short trip to the land of the seriously dead.
The world doesn’t stop just because you need to use a stasis
recharge.

The writing isn’t the most unique thing in
the universe, but then there aren’t very many new ideas left in the world at this
point.  I feel like Isaac is the right
man for the job, and the setup is believable enough.  There were plot twists, mostly late in the
game, that may have been obvious if I was looking for them, but honestly I was
too focused on individual encounters with the necromorphs.  For a change, Isaac is never asked to do any
of the things that virtually ensure one’s death, and indeed <spoiler> the moment Isaac’s helmet comes off he’s lunch </spoiler>.

The sounds of the game were both brutal and
excellent.  Corpses squished, machinery
ground, and weapons sounded like they would hurt.  Particularly impressive was the way sound in
vacuum was handled.  When in an airless
environment, the only sound to be heard is Isaac’s labored breathing in his
helmet.  Every other noise is either
muffled or muted, giving credibility to the claim that in space no one can hear
you scream.

I know that only a few people read this,
and that they have already made their choices regarding this particular
game.  I just want the world to know that
I loved it, and that EA is capable of doing something right once in a
while.  Although, the law of averages
says they were due anyway.

Next
challenge: Deadspace on super-hard difficulty.
I sure could go for the title of Epic Tier 3 Engineer.  I’ll wait a bit though to restore the impact
of the terror inducing moments of the game.

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Comments
  1. Heidi says:

    i am glad you loved it. thats all that matters!!! let me know when you make it to epic tier 3 engineer!!!(whenever that may be)

  2. Sam says:

    Thanks again for letting me borrow it. Right now that knucklhead MF is playing right now, and is once again ahead of me in the game by a chapter. Damn him! *shakes fists*

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