I’m really enjoying games on the PlayStation. I have to say that it’s a much more engaging activity than playing similar games on a PC with the keyboard. I didn’t realise how much I disliked playing things like Bioshock with the keyboard vs the PS3 controller (only the demo, but it still stands true). After enjoying Resident Evil 5 (and still going back to it now and then to play through on a harder setting), I thought I’d give Dead Space a go. I really wanted to play Left 4 Dead after hearing good things but it’s not available on the PS3 and due to my comments a second ago I won’t be getting it for the PC. On a side note, this is one area where Microsoft and all the major console manufacturers really piss me off, but I may save that for another post (unless I already moaned about it in the past).
So anyway, saw Dead Space second hand and had seen a review on TV which looked cool, and some clips on the web so picked it up. It’s superb. The gameplay is engaging and the graphics are well done, but what really sets this game apart as an experience is the sound and music. Oh. My. God. The sound drags you in and sticks you in the middle of the game, ramping the tension and excitement levels through the roof. We’ve got an as-cheap-as-you-can-get surround sound system, with badly located speakers, but the game still managed to freak me out completely. The range of ambient sounds is huge, and they really fit the locations down to a tee. When you’re walking down a badly lit corridor and you hear something scuttle overhead in the air ducts, you really, really, want to look up in the real world.
You can hear things bumping into others things, items being dropped, canisters being knocked over, foot steps, squelches and any number of ambient noises which really make you feel like the experience is that much more real. The music is excellent and the non-ambient sound effects are pretty impressive too. The most accomplished element of the sound though for me is when you’re character is in a vacuum. Ok, vacuum’s should transfer no sound, but total silence wouldn’t be much fun. The quiet whump whump whump of the pulse rifle instead of the regular gun noise was just so excellent. The vacuum noises just increased the sense of claustrophobia that the rest of the game imposes.
Overall it was really enjoyable, and although the actual story is weak in places the action was engaging and the slightly different approach to combat made it more interesting (headshots are not your friend in Dead Space). The sound made sure the game went from ‘fun’ to ‘adrenaline fuelled fun’. If you like survival horror, sci-fi horror, survival sci-fi horror, shooting dead things, and being scared to go to the toilet on your own, Dead Space is for you.