Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dead Space - Nitpicks

After nearly 2.5 trips through Dead Space, I've accumulated some petty gripes. Remember that these are just nitpicks...overall I really liked the game and will almost certainly play the inevitable sequel.

- Isaac is you typical mute protagonist, so it's hard to feel strongly about him one way or the other. But your two "sidekick" characters during the game are gratingly obnoxious. The female computer expert is a hate-filled harpy and I actively rooted for her death throughout the adventure. Fortunately they aren't around much, mostly filling the role of narrating what your next objective is.

- The monsters in this game can continue to attack even after losing limbs, and even their heads. That's fine, but it's really hard to tell when they're dead versus when they're just reeling from getting a leg blown off. Some kind of death animation would help to prevent situations in which I unload an extra half a clip into a monster's corpse because it's still twitching a bit.

- The game uses a strange offset camera where Isaac sort of stands off to one side a bit (the left), and you see past him. It's almost like someone is filming his exploits from behind (like an episode of COPS). It's not a big issue but it takes some getting used to, especially because it means you have far less peripheral vision on one side than the other.

- The object physics in this game are a little...touchy. For example, if you bump into a dead body it can flip and careen around the floor, sometimes knocking limbs off for no good reason. It feels like environmental objects don't have the proper weight, as if gravity isn't working properly.

- The game has several sections where you move around in zero-G. This is actually pretty cool, and there's even a boss fight where you have to jump around to the walls and ceiling during the fight. Two issues though. One is that it's really hard to tell what constitutes an "allowed" landing point and what doesn't in this game. The other is that trying to run around a wall and fight monsters while hanging upside down with a whirling camera can be disorienting at best, and nausea-inducing at worst.

- The weapon progression is a little bizarre. Usually you start with a weak weapon and find better ones as you go. In this game, I found that the starting weapon (the plasma cutter) was the most effective in the game. It's accurate, it fires quickly, it carries a lot of ammo, and after a few upgrades it's pretty powerful. Most of the later weapons didn't impress me much, though the ripper certainly has its uses (what is it with me and chainsaw weapons...I was getting Dead Rising flashbacks!). I guess this isn't really a complaint, but it seemed strange to toss all the other guns into storage and stick with the original weapon.

- Finally, a quick note to whoever came up with the little creepy-crawly enemies that march along the floor in a swarm, are nearly invisible in a dark hallway, and jump onto your back, forcing you to hammer on the A button while Isaac dances around in a pitiful attempt to dislodge them: WHAT THE FUCK???

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