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    dkirschner's Dead Space (PC)

    [April 2, 2011 02:15:58 AM]
    Almost done with Dead Space, and I don't want it to be over! Such an awesome game. Funny how I have such polar thoughts about two games in the same day. I don't know how many points of comparison there are between Dead Space and Machinarium, but I prefer Dead Space 100%. Just a couple things before I take a short break.

    Ammo drops only for the weapons you have equipped. You can load out 4 weapons (out of 8 I think). This means you can use whichever 4 weapons you like best, and you won't ever get ammo for that crappy weapon you hate. I've been using (and upgrading) my standard pulse rifle and plasma cutter. Then I've been toting around the contact beam and the force gun. The contact beam is fantastic for knocking enemies back and for killing little groups of parasites and headcrab things. The force gun fires a crazy strong blast. I use the ripper for fun sometimes because bonesawing enemies to death is enjoyable.

    In chapter 9, I found a Zero-G Basketball game. It was an interesting diversion where you use anti-grav boots and the gravity gun thingy to jump from little free-throw area to little free-throw area and shoot basketballs into some hoops far away. I beat all 6 levels and got a bunch of items. Items and ammo, by the way, increase in number big time as the game goes on. Makes sense since my suit can hold like twice as much as it used to be able to.

    Enemies have gotten harder. There are darker versions of some of the same ones that take about twice as many bullets. The craziest ones so far are these hyper-speed enemies. Slowing them down with stasis helps. There is this persistent boss-type monster that regenerates such that you cannot kill him. He's been terrorizing me here and there for like 5 levels and I finally got the chance to kill him! There's a part where you have to get the shuttle engines online, and you can test the engines. Well, dismember his legs behind the shuttle and sprint to the controls to test fire the engines. Toasted monster. I'm sure I had a huge grin on my face as he writhed in flame.

    The story is cool. The religious aspect is fleshed out. There is a cult, which according to some in-game reading is an accepted Earth religion, called the Church of Unitology. They remind me of your typical cult wherein aliens will come, but you have to drink the kool-aid before you can see heaven. There's an insane scientist in charge who is one of the only ones left alive on the ship. He's killed a handful of people that I've watched, and has just given himself up to ascendancy byyyy...letting the monster-type that converts corpses to monsters do that to him. His live feed went off when that happened, and I'm sure he turned into some mega-boss that I get to fight later.

    There's another scientist on board, and we lack mutual trust, but he says we have to return the Marker (the alien artifact that started the mess) to the planet, that the Marker was sealing this hive mind of the Necromorphs (the alien monsters) inside that planet. So I'm helping him do that. My female teammate doesn't trust him either, and I'm not really sure what she's up to now. My male teammate died a horrible death in front of me at the hands of one of the giant gorilla things.

    Break time, then finish..

    HOLY TWIST in chapter 11...I did not see that coming. And now Isaac's...girlfriend? is back again. I'd been having visions of her, her pleading with me through TV screens to 'make us whole again,' and I'm still pretty sure she's not real. All the crew started hallucinating and seeing people, although my female teammate was too, but she...well. The doctor trying to send the Marker back to the planet knew who I was. I think something strange is going on, like I was on this colony or on this ship sometime before the events of the game. I've got some history here. Well, following my (imaginary) girlfriend's instructions now. To the grand finale!

    So wonderfully gory. I thought I saw an item in the distance in a zero-g area, so I force pulled it to me, and it was just a severed head. Shudder.

    Final boss silhouetted against a giant asteroid and a burning yellow sun is magnificent to see. Way too easy of a fight though. After the fight, there is one more thing, and I may have had a minor heart attack.

    Final words: This is one of the most intense 11.5 hours of gaming I've ever experienced. I loved every minute. Highly, highly recommend.
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    [March 30, 2011 12:12:27 PM]
    At the end of my last ME2 entry, I mentioned my fear that Dead Space would be a fairly typical sci-fi survival horror shooter with a couple neat things thrown in. That was after playing the first two missions. I played three more tonight and I really like this game. The intro levels are more standard fare, but the best thing about the game, the claustrophobic ship, develops almost like a character as I progress. If the ship was a character, it would be psychologically unstable.

    Here's the story so far: Me (Isaac) and two other characters were on a cleanup mission to find and salvage a derelict ship that had been drilling on a planet. We crashed our ship into the derelict (not our fault), and so we have to try to get this ship working so we can fix it and/or fix ours and leave safely. Turns out there is a lot wrong with this ship. First problem is that there are monsters, which used to be crew members. The crew was drilling into this planet, and they uncovered some alien life of some sort. Some of the crew, especially it seems the scientists and people in charge, were driven into a religious fervor over this, but it seems to me like they had all these ideas before drilling and that they were looking for something. I'm not sure yet though. The entire crew was driven mad and started killing each other. The aliens reanimate the crew into a wide variety of disgusting shambling horrors, which kill more crew and produce more monsters, and on and on.

    Isaac gets separated from the other two, who then get separated from one another. They stay in touch with me through some video comm chat in my suit and tell me what I need to do. These are the missions. They tell me the ship's engines are out of power and I need to restore it because we're in a decaying orbit around the planet. They tell me the ship's asteroid shield is offline and I need to bring it online because we're about to pass through an asteroid field. Some crazy scientist and/or monster has polluted the air in the ship and I need to run and concoct a solution to clean the air so we can keep breathing and keep working on our escape. As soon as I fix one problem, my partners have found another urgent thing that needs doing. And it really does seem urgent! If the ship has psychological problems, they're really deep ones. My two crew members are also running for their lives from the monsters. The communications get staticy and go out, they hear things crawling around, they glimpse giant creatures, and they fight with one another.

    There are a lot of great things about Dead Space besides the general cool story and setting. One of the first things that will jump out at you is the HUD. It's built into Isaac's armor. Health is represented by some partitioned fluid or lights (1 block per 25 hp) on the spine of the suit. Stasis charge is represented the same in a circle on the right shoulder blade. Ammo is displayed on the guns when you aim them. All menus are actually projections from the suit that Isaac looks at. His head actually turns as you navigate your inventory to look up/down/left/right. I'd read about the HUD before playing, but it's very smart. The camera is over the right shoulder, so Isaac is in the left-center of the screen, and if I remember, he's visible from at least waist-up. You can pivot the camera around him to look behind Isaac. The only weird thing is that while aiming, the cursor and camera move sluggishly. I'm not sure if this was a purposeful design choice or a consequence of porting from console or what. I'm mostly used to it already and it doesn't really bother me, but it feels wrong.

    Another thing I noticed, chalked up to being almost different from the first play through, and now I see is unique, is both the way you acquire weapons and the weapons themselves. The game (to me) takes a bit of Bioshock, not only in this dystopian/mutant storyline and the posters scattered around the ship that remind me very much of the propagandistic stuff in Rapture, but in the stores. You acquire credits (money) and use it at item kiosks to buy weapons, ammo, med kits, etc. Besides the basic load out, you find schematics that allow you to then purchase the thing from the kiosks. The weapons are very cool. The basic one, which is one of my favorites, is a mining laser, and works like a heavy pistol-shotgun hybrid with a vertical or horizontal spray (your choice) of rounds. Each weapon has an alternate fire. There's a basic machine gun whose alternate fire is to shoot straight up, and I'm not sure when I'd need that. There's a flamethrower and another laser-type gun that can shoot mines. Then some schematics, there's one that charges up and lets out a massive blast that I quite like, and is nice for strong enemies. Another, the Force Gun, releases a massive burst of...force...that is excellent against these little swarms of parasites. It'll one-shot the whole swarm. Probably my favorite gun is the saw gun that launches saw blades at enemies for alternate fire, and for primary fire it's like a surgeon's bonesaw. Since you kill enemies in the game not by simply pumping ammo into their head, but by targeting legs and arms to dismember them and slow them down and severely weaken them, the saw gun is really fun. It's got dismemberment written all over it. Needless to say, Dead Space is really bloody and violent, but I don't find it over-the-top. It fits the story and the atmosphere perfectly.

    The ship, ah, the ship. It is like crushing despair and hopelessness. Everything goes wrong. It's infested and nearly everyone's dead. It's dark. The lights flicker. Go down a hallway once and you can see. Come back again and the lights have gone out and there's clattering in the grates below you. The sound design in Dead Space is some of the best I've ever experienced. The sounds will probably give me nightmares. I'll try to describe, and this goes for lighting and placement of monsters and things. Most shooters are predictable. You hear a monster in a ventilation shaft and you know it's going to pop out ahead of you. You hear a monster behind the door and you know that when you open it you need to open fire on whatever is there. In Dead Space, there is almost always noise and almost always shifting lights and shadows. The ship creaks and groans. This particular mission where I had to activate the asteroid shield began, as they all do, at the tram station. I made it to the atrium and was greeted with an awe-inspiring sight of asteroids whizzing by outside, deflecting off the hull, which you hear constantly. All of a sudden, an asteroid blasts through the hull, breaching it and causing some systems failure. This makes the mission really urgent because I just watched the ship get opened up by a giant rock. Now there are beeps and noises of systems failure, louder asteroids pelting the ship, my heavy breathing because I'm at 25% health. I know I will not forget this, probably ever. I reactivated the asteroid shield power, and had to go manually shoot asteroids while my teammate got the systems online, so I ride an elevator back up into the asteroid-breach room. I run toward the big double doors, and hear BOOM BOOM and see the door stretch and twist with each one. This is the first 'boss' I've seen, and it's a giant armored hulk, shaped like a giant mutant gorilla. I was scared to death. It killed me a couple times. The first time, there was about a 10-second cut scene of it ripping me to pieces. It was brutal. That's Dead Space. The environment, the ship, the monsters, it's all very unforgiving. It's visceral. Walking up on catwalks in engineering, you hear tools fall and clatter on the ground below. You hear the iron creak. You catch a glimpse of a monster running through the hall below. You hear what might be another to your right. There's a malfunctioning door opening and slamming shut behind you. SSS BAM. SSS BAM. There's a small fire near a pile of debris to your left, and a mutilated human under your feet. I like how the enemies are not totally predictable. There is one problem though, and that's that enemies are set not to leave whatever room they're in, so they won't chase you too far. Consequently, you can stand in the doorway sometimes and kill them without fear. If you can make it back to the door, that is. Enemies are fast. You can't really outrun them and turn to shoot. They pretty much come straight for you at varying speeds. Some jump. Some crawl on walls. Most shamble. But the sound, the sound design is so very good.

    I think that's about all I have to say for now. I've no idea how far in I am, but I imagine it's nearing 1/3 or 1/2 since I don't know how many things can go wrong on the ship, and it shows me a little overview map between each level, and I think I've cleared, yeah, 1/3 or so. I'm really looking forward to playing some more, messing with the guns, getting more story, and being scared for a few more hours.
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    dkirschner's Dead Space (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 27 March, 2011

    GameLog closed on: Saturday 2 April, 2011

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Pretty cool so far, scary, neat HUD, atmospheric as hell and great sound design. --------- LOVE

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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