Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh my stars and garters (Or how I fell in love with video games again)

Folks, I have a confession. I have a condition where, once I start playing a really good game (or in dire, desperate times, a piece of shit game), I cannot stop until it's over from start to finish. This means little to no breaks. It's unhealthy and addictive but goddamnit our forefathers fought so we could live our lives guilt free and play our video games!

And so it goes with Dead Space, published by EA and developed by Redwood Shores. My friends (I'm stealing this from McCain cos I sound a lot less condescending than he does, I'm sure [vain!]), this is a scary ass game. It is the type of game that would scare the bejeesus out of you even in broad daylight. Forget Silent Hill, or Resident Evil, or any other survival horror games, Dead Space is by far the most immersive, pants-wetting (not literally) experience I've had since BioShock.

Immersion is the name of the game here, make no mistake. There are no in-game menus that pop up when you press the START button. Just a holographic interface that doesn't pause the game, meaning that there are no breaks, just the illusion of catching your second wind after a hectic gorefight. The lighting and level design are superb. Never has moving around in an empty, lifeless spaceship felt so claustrophobic. And the enemies! My God the monsters. The shock factor lessens in the final two chapters, but damned if their ruthlessness doesn't make for sweaty palms.

My only qualm with the game, and the genre in particular, lies in the already foreseeable twists in the plot. In this case, and forgive me if I'm spoiling any stories for you here, the main supporting character who, after guiding you through 3/4's of the game, stabs you in the back and gives either a monologue, or says "hey, for what it's worth you really helped me/the greater good out". Y'dig? I'd appreciate it if developers came up with a story that didn't involve so much betrayal and unnecessary character expositions. By the time the big reveal came, I was all, "meh."

Anyway, play Dead Space for the action, suspense and crazy scares. Oh! And the zero gravity jumps! Those are bad ASS. I give it 8/10 (arbitrary number, really; just play the damn thing).

Really looking forward to getting Fables 2! and Fallout 3!

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