Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dead Space

Having beated Dead Space: Extraction on Wii, I was somewhat interested in Dead Space 2 when it came out. Extraction was an enjoyable game, even though it was a shooter on rails. However, never playing the original version of the game, I decided to give that a go.

Unfortunately, DS1 came off more like a cheesy Doom 3 copy with a few gimmicks thrown in (weapon upgrading/customization, stasis, zero-gravity jumping). Much of the "fright" mechanics in this game are rather predictable, level layout is repetitive, and monster variety is lackluster. Perhaps most frustrating of all is the "Dragon's Lair" like event sequences, which require awkward movements and simple puzzle solutions in which failure results in instant death. The third person view is also annoying at times, as well as the interface delay when moving the character and "stomping" crates and enemies. Another annoyance, is the use of a panic mechanic during cut-scenes and minor events in which the player must hammer the action key, in which failure to do so results in instant death. Although the story was somewhat interesting, having to search nonstop for items in random places (ammunition and credits in storage closets, bathrooms, and other completely random areas), the game was rather monotonous for the 8 hour play through. Almost everything this game had to offer was visible within the first hour of play. Perhaps most irritating of all, was the fact that the main character had no voice acting, and did not interact with other characters in the story. Instead, he simply took orders and communication was inferred.

PC version of DS1 had various bugs: save console not showing buttons for save/delete randomly, as well as minor mouse input latency.

DS2 is a great improvement to DS1. The game seems much less repetitive. Fright mechanics have improved a little, so things are not quite as predictable. The item system is improved: suits give unique equip bonuses, nodes can be removed from items, and nodes can improve special modes of weapons. The zero-gravity system has also improved so that free-flight is possible, a vast improvement over the zero-gravity jump feature in the first game. Event sequences that require character movement, like flying through objects, or fighting bosses, are much more enjoyable and less frustrating. Some event sequences that require hammering the action button still exist, but they are infrequent. Level design has greatly improved, as well as item distribution (chapters do not all end at the train station, items in storage rooms are more rewarding, areas appear to be less linear and more open). Although some maps or areas from DS1 have been reused, they have been significantly changed, improved, and redesigned so that they fit into the game appropriately. The main character actually has voice acting now, and reacts to various events (actions of other characters, monsters, hallucinations, etc), which adds much to the feel of the game. The play time is about the same as the first (8 hours).

PC version of DS2 was causing me blue screens, had to update video drivers.

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