gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Dead Space Xbox 360 Mini-Review

Dead Space is a would-be Resident Evil set aboard a “planet cracker” mining ship in, well, space. It’s a curious horror game in that it seems to avoid all the typical devices one would expect from such a title.

I hate to launch on such a negative note because the game, despite seemingly utterly missing its genre mark, is actually pretty engrossing, fun and, I dare say, ingenious in some respects.

Sadly, any real feeling of suspense seems to be completely absent and your almost permanently mute protagonist is sealed inside what can only be described as a suit of space armor. This somewhat mitigates the threat and fear of the violent alien life dwelling aboard the stricken vessel. If that wasn’t enough, you have access to a steadily building arsenal of weapons that tear your enemies to shreds with very little effort.

I admit, I am playing through Dead Space on easy difficulty and may be missing out on the odd occasion where I might find myself in a battle with little or no ammunition. My inventory is so stuffed with the damned stuff that I can’t find room for anything else, making the game feel much more action driven than suspense driven.

Still, the suit of armor in which you are incarcerated from the beginning of the game makes identifying with your character somewhat difficult. Your encounters with other characters are also decidedly brief, making identifying with anyone else somewhat difficult. This is frustrating because I want to be drawn into the plot on a more personal level, rather than simply having it spoon fed me through text and audio logs or the occasional encounter with a stricken, insane survivor.

On the plus side the spoon fed plot still managed to captivate me and I found myself eager to uncover the mystery behind Dead Space. It’s just a shame that I haven’t yet been motivated to actually finish the game, some months after picking it up.

As you’ll likely have heard, the Dead Space HUD is where the “ingenious” comes in. Your character is offset from the center of the screen, leaving room for a “holographic” menu to occupy the game world in a much less jarring and far more interesting way than ordinary pop-up inventory screens. The HUD itself, however, is very, very subtle, with lights on the back of your suit indicating health (although why they didn’t just do away with a health indicator entirely completely eludes me) and other statuses.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, Computer Gaming, Xbox 360.