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Review: Dead Space

Russ Pitts | 3 Nov 2008 21:00
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Dead Space's copying act doesn't stop with games. If you've seen a science fiction film in the past 30 years, particularly a sci-fi horror film, you'll be struck between the eyes with a stab of déjà vu playing Dead Space, but again, by the time you're a level or two in you'll be sitting on the beach, wrapped in the warm fuzziness of an homage to the genre done right.

It's as if, at this point in the history of modern culture, science fiction is so firmly rooted in the subconscious that there's very little need for interpretation. Dead Space's Ishimura may have dropped out of warp from any number of film or TV universes, but in spite of that familiarity, it still manages to feel like a completely new, original experience.

As you feel your way through the darkened ship, unraveling its mysteries and eradicating the baddies lurking around corners, you'll be struck more than once by the sheer scope of the game. Flipping a switch can cause machinery to come alive several stories above your head, in the gloom you assumed was simply a tall ceiling. As lights come on hundreds of feet above you, and the groan of long-unused equipment echoes through the cavernous room, you realize you're standing in a compartment the size of a football stadium, and then you instinctively look for a corner to wedge yourself in, because in Dead Space the monsters can come from anywhere, and you're sure to have awakened them.

There no other word for it - the graphics and sound in Dead Space are phenomenal. This is one of the most truly immersive titles I've played all year, and an homage not only to the genre of sci-fi horror, but to the kind of well-conceived, painstakingly crafted videogames that this reviewer once believed was forgotten.

Bottom Line: Dead Space is a game you'll wish you had the stones to play until all hours of the night, and even when you're not playing it, you'll be thinking about it.

Recommendation: It's worth at least a rent, but I suspect this is one you'll want to pull off the shelf again a few times even after you've finished it.

Russ Pitts tries very hard not to scream like a little girl when playing this game. He occasionally fails.

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