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Dead Space
Dead Space Box Art.jpg
Developer(s) EA Redwood Shores
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Designer(s) Glen Schofield (executive producer/creator)
Bret Robbins
Writer(s) Warren Ellis
Rick Remender
Antony Johnston
Composer(s) Jason Graves
Series Dead Space
Engine Godfather game engine[1]
Platform(s) PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
NA October 14, 2008[2]
EU October 14, 2008[2]
Microsoft Windows
NA October 20, 2008[2]
EU October 24, 2008[2]
Genre(s) Survival horror, third-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player
Rating(s) BBFC: 18
ESRB: M
OFLC: MA 15+
PEGI: 18+
USK: 18
Media Blu-ray Disc, DVD
System requirements Windows XP SP2 or Vista
Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz or equivalent
1GB RAM for XP, 2GB for Vista
7GB hard drive space
256MB video card w/ SM 3.0 (nVidia GeForce 6800/ ATI Radeon X1600 Pro)(Shader 3.0 support)
DirectX 9.0c sound card[3]
Input methods Keyboard and mouse, gamepad

Dead Space is a survival horror third-person shooter video game, developed by EA Redwood Shores for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows released in October 2008. The player takes on the role of an engineer named Isaac Clarke, who battles a polymorphic, virus-like, alien infestation which turns humans into grotesque alien monsters called "Necromorphs", on board a stricken interstellar mining ship named the USG Ishimura.[4] It was revealed in September 2009 that Dead Space 2 is in pre-production.[5]

Contents

Gameplay

The player takes the role of Isaac Clarke (named after science fiction writers Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke[6]), an engineer who must fight his way through a stricken mining ship infested with hostile, grotesque monstrosities called Necromorphs, which are human corpses transformed and reanimated by an unknown alien organism. The game features an 'over the shoulder' third-person perspective.[4] Players can upgrade modules, including suit and weapons.

The interface of Dead Space does not feature a traditional head-up display. Instead, all information is relayed to the player via holographic projections and the features on the suit and the weapons themselves. For example, a small display on the weapon shows an ammunition count; also, the 'health meter' that indicates Isaac's condition is integrated into the spine of Isaac's armor.[7] Via floating holograms projected in front of Isaac, the player can check the current objectives and the 3D map, or access the inventory screen to manage items. Meanwhile, however, the game still progresses through time, and the player is always in danger of being attacked.[7] The only menus in which the game is not still in progress are the pause and save menus. The player can still be attacked when using the store or upgrade bench, meaning there are effectively no "safe" points.

In combat, the already-dead Necromorphs do not simply die after receiving a certain amount of damage. In fact, depending on how they are wounded, Necromorphs can adopt new stances and tactics, even sprouting new limbs or giving birth to new enemies in the process.[8] To defeat Necromorphs, Isaac must use "strategic dismemberment", the methodical severance of specific limbs or sections of the Necromorph.[9]

In keeping with Isaac's profession as an engineer rather than a soldier, the weapons in Dead Space are mostly improvised from mining tools,[7] such as a plasma cutter, rotary saw, a hydrazine torch used as a flamethrower, and a force cannon emitting powerful shock waves. A military automatic rifle is also available. All weapons feature a secondary-fire mode; for example, the plasma cutter can be rotated 90 degrees for an optimal angle for easier dismemberment. The player must scavenge for ammunition and other various items, which are found throughout the ship or dropped by Necromorphs when killed. Automated stores throughout the ship can be accessed to buy and sell items or store them for later use. Also, the player can use work benches and spend "power nodes" to upgrade Isaac's suit and weapons.

Other than weapons, Isaac is also equipped with other tools to help him survive, solve puzzles, and combat enemies more effectively. These are all contained in his suit, the RIG (Resource Integration Gear). Isaac's Stasis ability can be used in the game to slow down enemies and objects temporarily, and a Kinesis module allows Isaac to pick up and throw items.[7] Dead Space also features zero gravity and vacuum environments, and Isaac can navigate through them using his pressurized suit and magnetic boots. Isaac can also enable a GPS laser that will point to the next point of interest.[10] Isaac will eventually suffocate while in a vacuum or a toxic environment as his suit can only contain a limited amount of air, so the player is forced to proceed quickly when in these situations. Also, Isaac can jump from platform to platform in weightless environments. Some levels even lead out onto the surface of the ship's hull. Floating debris presents a hazard, however, and if they hit Isaac can lose his footing and simply float off into space.

Plot

In 26th century deep space, the USG Ishimura ("石村" literally "Stone Village") "Planet Cracker" ship, during the process of mining the planet of Aegis VII, sends out a distress signal to the Concordance Extraction Corporation (CEC); the CEC dispatches the USG Kellion to investigate. As the Kellion attempts to dock with the Ishimura, a malfunction occurs and the Kellion is badly damaged, crashing into the Ishimura's dock. The crew then begins to seek another means of transport by venturing into the Ishimura. As they explore the apparently abandoned ship, they are attacked by grotesque monsters who kill off all but Clarke, Hammond, and Daniels. Hammond recognizes that many of the ship's systems are failing and they are falling in a decaying orbit. Once this is dealt with by Clarke, Hammond and Daniels direct and assist him in fixing other core systems to keep them all alive. This includes exterior threats to the ship when they pull through a nearby asteroid belt without the assistance of the Asteroid Defense System (ADS) and interior threats to life support like a failing oxygen supply.

During these treks, Clarke discovers various text and audio logs scattered throughout the ship and pieces together the events that transpired before his arrival: the ship's captain was actually an agent of the "Church of Unitology", a large and influential religious cult. The Ishimura was assigned to retrieve the religion's most deified relic, The Marker, from Aegis VII, under the guise of an illegal mining operation. Soon after The Marker was extracted and brought to the Ishimura, the civilians, first on the planet-side colony then the ship, suffered from mass hysteria brought on by violent hallucinations, before subsequently killing each other. The captain cuts off traffic and communications between the two sides and later goes insane as well. Dr. Terrance Kyne, the Chief Science Officer, tried to relieve him of duty, only to accidentally kill him in a struggle. An alien organism then began ravaging the colony, infecting the bodies of the dead and turning them into "Necromorphs" - mindless abominations that kill to spread the infestation. It then spread to the Ishimura via a colony shuttle carrying Necromorphs that crashes into the docking bay. Though Hammond states that he is unaware of what the Marker is, Daniels confides to Clarke that she believes Hammond is lying. Clarke later encounters his girlfriend Nicole, one of the Ishimura's crew, though they are unable to meet directly.

With the critical systems repaired, the three are able to launch a beacon, attracting a nearby military ship, the USM Valor. However, the Valor, having picked up an escape pod launched earlier by Hammond containing a Necromorph, is overrun and crashes into the ship. Hammond then deduces, from the heavy military equipment he finds on board, that the Valor was actually assigned to destroy the Ishimura. The group then decides that they must find a shuttle and escape while they can. Clarke and Hammond retrieve the Valor's power core in order to repair an available shuttle, but Hammond is killed by a Necromorph in the process. Dr. Kyne, one of the few survivors, later contacts Clarke and urges him to return the Marker to Aegis VII, believing that it is a means of restraining the Hive Mind that controls the Necromorphs. After assisting Clarke in loading the Marker onto the shuttle, Kyne is murdered by Daniels, who reveals her position as a government operative ordered to retrieve the Marker for her superiors. She further reveals that the Marker is a reverse-engineered copy of an artifact found on Earth, and was placed on Aegis VII by the government to monitor its effects. She then leaves on the shuttle without Clarke, but Nicole arrives and is able to help him recall it, prompting Daniels to flee via an escape pod.

Clarke takes the shuttle with the Marker back to the colony, and replaces it there. This pacifies the Hive Mind, but also disrupts the gravity tethers holding a large portion of the planet several miles off the surface, threatening to destroy the colony. As Clarke attempts to escape, Daniels appears and starts to take the Marker back to the shuttle. She shows Clarke (through a fully recovered distress transmission) that Nicole actually committed suicide by injecting herself with what appears to be a poison before they arrived on the Ishimura, and Clarke's visions of her had been the Marker's way of attempting to bring itself back to the planet. Clarke makes his way back to the shuttle where Daniels is loading the Marker. Before she can leave, the gigantic Hive Mind kills her, but Clarke is able to defeat it. Leaving the Marker behind, Clarke flies off in the shuttle before the colony is destroyed. As he sets course away from Aegis VII, Clarke removes his helmet and watches Nicole's first transmission again. Lost in thought, he is suddenly attacked by a Necromorph resembling Nicole. The screen cuts to black and the game ends.

Characters

  • Isaac Clarke - The main character and silent protagonist of the game. Isaac is a ship system specialist and an engineer traveling aboard the shuttle Kellion to investigate and repair the USG Ishimura. Clarke is also trying to find his girlfriend, Nicole, a medical specialist assigned to the ship, whose fate is unknown at the start of the game. Throughout the game, Isaac stumbles across a conspiracy involving the Church of Unitology and the government. It is also implied that Clarke's mother is a high ranking member of The Church of Unitology. Isaac is the sole survivor by the game's end and the only non-speaking character in Dead Space, only producing inarticulate sounds.
  • Kendra Daniels - Kendra is a technologist and part of the team sent aboard the Ishimura to repair communication systems. She helps the player through the Ishimura in many ways, giving directions and assisting through areas of the ship that would otherwise be inaccessible. She frequently expresses distrust of Hammond, but turns out to know more about the situation than anyone previously thought as she was sent by the government to retrieve their Marker and cover up its discovery. Daniels is killed by the Hive Mind while attempting to escape Aegis VII with the Marker. Tonantzin Carmelo provides her likeness and voice.
  • Zach Hammond - The senior security officer on board the Kellion who travels with both Isaac and Kendra to the Ishimura. Hammond's initial desire to complete the original mission and not immediately abort puts him at odds with Kendra, who finds this suspicious. Throughout the game, he works to fulfill the original mission, but as time goes on, he becomes more disillusioned and focuses instead on getting himself and the rest of the surviving team off the ship. This is cut short when he is killed in front of Clarke before they can make it to the shuttle. Peter Mensah provides his likeness and voice.
  • Dr. Challus Mercer - A doctor aboard the USG Ishimura, a devout Unitologist and one of the main antagonists of Dead Space. In the wake of the calamity that has gripped the Ishimura, Mercer has become a religious fanatic, attempting to convince the crew to commit mass suicide. Mercer often works to bar the progress of Isaac and even attempts to kill him outright, sending a "prototype" regenerating Necromorph nicknamed "Hunter" after Isaac several times throughout the course of the game. He may be responsible for launching most of the Ishimuras escape pods in order for the crew to be killed and transformed into Necromorphs. To Mercer, everything that has happened is God's will; he insists repeatedly that Isaac should allow himself to die and let Mercer's "children" take over. He eventually allows himself to be killed by a Necromorph "Infector". Navid Negahban provides his likeness and voice.
  • Doctor Terrence Kyne - The Chief Science Officer of the Ishimura who appears later in the game and asks for help from the surviving members of the Kellion team. He is suffering from dementia but offers to aid Isaac in stopping the nightmare that has gripped the Aegis System and the Ishimura. Kyne attempted to relieve Captain Matthius of duty during the crisis on the ship, but instead seems to have been complicit in the captain's death either in whole or in part. He regularly interacts with his dead wife, an apparition caused by the Red Marker that can't be seen by the player. He also believes the Marker was containing the Hive Mind, and that the only way to contain the Necromorphs is to put the Marker back into place on Aegis VII. He is then shot and killed near the end of the game by Kendra as she flees the Ishimura with the marker. Keith Szarabajka provides his likeness and voice both in the video game and the animated movie Dead Space: Downfall.
  • Nicole Brennan - Isaac's girlfriend and a medical specialist assigned to the Ishimura. The game starts with a video from Nicole, asking for help after the ship's infestation, establishing one of Clarke's reasons for coming to the Ishimura. He meets and receives messages from Nicole several times as he moves through the ship and she, like Dr. Kyne, believes that the Red Marker must be returned to the surface of the planet, repeatedly asking Isaac to "make us whole again." She has been dead since the recording of the initial distress message as revealed by Daniels. Her appearance throughout the game is explained by Daniels as the Marker attempting to control Clarke and return itself to the surface of Aegis VII. Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress Iyari Limon provides her likeness and voice. Her character also appears in Dead Space: Extraction.

Necromorphs

The major threats of Dead Space are a species of violent aliens known as "Necromorphs", most of which are human corpses that have been reanimated by a strange alien microbe. Several logs and other information throughout the game explain as to how it was created or originated.

Isaac battles a Necromorph.

The main strategy employed by the virus is the rapid transformation of deceased humans into Necromorphs. This is usually performed by an "Infector" type that latches onto a corpse, penetrating the skull with a proboscis. Other mutations are largely variable, including short tentacles, large tumorous growths, and corroded flesh. This is the main form of Necromorphs, but many others exist, including tentacled creatures called Lurkers, which are made from the converted corpses of infants, and heavily mutated crawling variants, known as Leapers. Some of the Necromorphs are made up of multiple corpses merged together to form very large monstrosities, such as the massive, gorilla-like Brutes. In addition to the humanoid Necromorphs, known as 'Slashers', encountered in the course of the game, there also exists an extensive presence of some biological material seen clinging to the walls of the ship's interior. Furthermore, Isaac encounters several enormous Necromorphs, far too large to have been formed out of human bodies, and which vary greatly in physical composition.

The virus' DNA code was engraved on the Black Marker, an obelisk-like alien artifact discovered on Earth by Michael Altman, founder of Unitology. Experiments with the DNA code for purposes of biological warfare resulted in a polymorphic virus that responds only to necrotized tissue, transforming dead bodies into the ravenous Necromorphs. As it is put in the game, the Infectors' task is to turn corpses into Necromorphs, and the other variants' job is to create more corpses.

Development

Electronic Arts first announced Dead Space in September 2007. The game was developed at their studio in Redwood Shores, California, whose other titles include The Godfather and The Simpsons Game. The game's executive producer, Glen Schofield, said that the team aimed to create something 'darker and creepier' than their previous titles: "We are all such huge fans of the horror and sci-fi genres; we wanted to create the most terrifying game we could, and keep the player on the edge of their seat the entire time."[11] The design team reportedly spent time analyzing a wide variety of horror films in order to find inspiration for in-game scares.[12]

Previews of the game have universally drawn attention to the high levels of gore and violence in the game, in particular the tactic of "strategic dismemberment" (emphasized by Schofield as "the primary theme of Dead Space"[7]). The Necromorphs cannot be subdued by a single shot, rather they have to be incapacitated by shooting off their tentacles and appendages. A series of developer diaries released for the game had featured one episode about the system, in which developers mentioned that using conventional tactics, such as aiming for the head or torso would only serve to aggravate some of the Necromorphs.[13] In order to make the corpses look more realistic, the development team studied photos of car crash victims.[14]

Audio

Dead Space’s credits refer to two different people for the music composition. Audio Director Don Veca was quoted in an interview saying “The music credits read ‘Music Composed and Conducted by Jason Graves in Association with Rod Abernethy’. Early on, Rod was involved in initial brainstorming, but Jason actually composed, conducted, and arranged all the music.”[15]

On November 11, 2008, Amazon.com and iTunes released the soundtrack to Dead Space for download.

In 2009, Dead Space was nominated for several awards by the non-profit Game Audio Network Guild (GANG): Music of the Year, Audio of the Year, and Sound Design of the Year.[16] By voting of GANG members, Dead Space was awarded Audio of the Year and Sound Design of the Year.[17]

DRM

The PC version of Dead Space uses SecuRom copy protection as seen in the other EA PC titles Spore and Mass Effect, which requires online authentication. Previously it limited the number of times a user could install the game to five, however in April 2009 the company released de-authorization tools which afford an unlimited number of installs.[18]

Marketing

Electronic Arts and Image Comics announced a comic book series based upon the game on February 21, 2008. Illustrated by Ben Templesmith and written by Antony Johnston, the six-book Dead Space comics are a prequel to the game. Set on Aegis VII, the planet that the USG Ishimura is orbiting, the deep space mining colony pulls an ancient artifact called "The Marker" from the planet which begins to affect everyone in the colony. The first issue was released on March 3, 2008. However, a limited edition version of issue #1 with exclusive cover art was made available at WonderCon 2008 to the first 25 people who went to the convention each day.[19]

Electronic Arts and Starz also announced an animated movie, Dead Space: Downfall, a prequel to the events of the game, taking place after the Necromorphs invade the USG Ishimura. The movie, developed by Film Roman, was released on October 28, 2008.[20]

Electronic Arts released an Ultra Limited Edition of the game limited to only 1,000 copies. The package includes the game, the animated movie Dead Space: Downfall, a bonus content DVD, the Dead Space art book, a lithograph, and the Dead Space comic.[20] People who also bought the game within the first two weeks of the release could also download exclusive suits: the Obsidian Suit for the PlayStation 3 version and the Elite Suit for the Xbox 360 version.[21]

Italian horror director Dario Argento lent his voice to Doctor Terrence Kyne character for the Italian release of the game.[22]

No Known Survivors

On August 22, 2008, No Known Survivors was launched, a website similar to an alternate reality game that provides an opportunity for visitors to explore the narrative world of Dead Space.[23] The site depicts two stories, each divided into four chapters and using 3D animations, voice acting, original video, Papervision 3D technology, and various other interactive components.[24] The first, Misplaced Affection, tells the story of an organ replacement technician who falls in love with a capable P-Sec officer and slowly loses his sanity as Necromorph attempt to break down the door to his shelter. The second, Thirteen, follows a sleeper agent who "makes the wrong decision for the right reason", set after Isaac launches the distress beacon. The site is less like a typical alternate reality game and more like a PC adventure game, such as Myst.

The site is based around a hub featuring nine severed body parts, each of which represent a content release. The week before a content piece was released, its assigned body part would mutate, finally evolving into a mature Necromorph part. Starting on August 25 and ending the week of the PC release, a new Necromorph part became active every Monday, allowing visitors to continue the stories featured on No Known Survivors up until Dead Space's release. Following the release of Dead Space, ninety three prize winners were awarded a copy of the game on a platform of their choosing, while nine second prize winners were awarded the limited collector's edition of the game and one grand prize winner was awarded the limited edition of the game in addition to a life-sized replica of Isaac Clarke's level three Rig helmet.

Reception

 Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 86/100[25]
Metacritic 89/100[26]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com B+[27]
Computer and Video Games 9.1/10[28]
Eurogamer 7/10[29]
Game Informer 9.25/10[30]
GamePro 5/5[31]
GameSpot 9.0/10[32]
GameTrailers 8.8/10[33]
IGN 8.7/10[34]
Official Xbox Magazine 6.5/10[35]
PC Gamer UK 86% [36]
PC Gamer US 81%[37]
X-Play 4/5[38]

Dead Space has received positive critical and commercial reception. Xbox World 360 awarded the Xbox 360 version a 91 out of 100, stating the game was a "nail-biting experience," driven forward by a "film-worthy" script and "inspired" setting, and that it was "Rapture in space (a reference to the underwater setting of hit game BioShock): every bit as disturbing, just as meticulously designed and easily as believable."[39] PlayStation World awarded the game 9/10 and a PSW gold award, stating that Dead Space is the "world's scariest game", saying "This is bold, bleak gaming from the haunting opening credits to the pulse pounding finish."[40] IGN rated the game 8.7/10, saying it was "visually striking, everything from the holograms to the Necromorph [sic] is incredible." GamePro awarded the game a 5/5.

1UP.com gave the game a B+, saying that it is "incredibly polished", but slightly repetitive. Eurogamer gave the game a 7/10, saying "None of these criticisms will detract from your enjoyment, provided all you want from a game is the opportunity to repeatedly turn evil monsters into red mush in gorgeous HD detail. Dead Space easily delivers on that promise, but fails to turn its polished production values into something truly memorable over the long haul." GameSpot rated Dead Space at 9.0 out of 10, calling it "an incredibly atmospheric and disturbingly gruesome deep-space adventure that will haunt your dreams and leave you begging for more." Game Informer rated the game at 9.25 out of 10, saying "Although the reasons for most missions are mundane, the game always falls back on its great gameplay and atmosphere." The Guardian gave Dead Space four stars. X-Play has also given Dead Space four stars out of five. Giant Bomb editor Brad Shoemaker gave Dead Space 5 stars out of 5, saying it was "much greater than the sum of its familiar parts. It's also one of the best shooters so far this year."[41] GameTrailers gave it 8.8 out of 10, praising the audio, the atmosphere, and the dismemberment, saying that "it was interesting to unlearn the head shot". Its main criticism was a lack of enemy variety, and no hot buttons for certain items, but many claimed that the item problem only amplified its already frightening atmosphere.[42] Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of The Escapist reviewed the game neutrally, citing repetition and lack of imagination as problems, with his primary complaint being that players are expected to empathize with protagonist Isaac, despite him being a faceless silent protagonist with no personality. However, Croshaw said that he was able to overlook these flaws due to the quality of the gameplay, and enjoyed the game overall.[43] Initially, Dead Space community manager Andrew Green stated that China and Japan had banned the game. However, it has been confirmed that it was a marketing ploy and that Dead Space had not been banned in any country.[44][45]

Dead Space was a commercial success as well, with EA CFO Eric Brown confirming 1 million sales in 2008 across three platforms.[46]

Awards

IGN Best of 2008

GameSpot "Best of 2008" awards[48]:

  • GameSpot "Best of 2008" Editor's choice awards:[48]
    • Best Atmosphere
    • Best Sound Design
  • GameSpot "Best of 2008" Reader's choice awards:[48]
    • Most surprisingly good game
    • Best Sound design
    • Best original IP
    • Most violent game to make it past Aussie censors:[49]

Game Informer

  • Game of The Month
  • Included in "The Top 50 Games of 2008"

British Academy Video Games Awards

  • Best Use Of Audio
  • Best Original Score

12th DICE Awards

  • Won - Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design, Action Game of the Year
  • Nominated — Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction, Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition[50]

Game Developers Choice Awards:

  • Prize for the best Audio[51]

Legacy

On September 2009, Dead Space: Extraction was released for the Wii, a prequel to Dead Space.[52][53]

Dead Space 2 is in development and planned for a 2010 release[54] for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.[55][56] EA has confirmed that Isaac will be the protagonist.[57]

On July 24, 2009, it was revealed that Electronic Arts was working with director D.J. Caruso on a live action feature based upon the game, intended to "bridge the gap between the two games." EA will produce the film with Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey.[58][59]

References

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  5. ^ Dead Space 2 almost in production
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  18. ^ Ridgeley, Sean (2009-05-01). "EA releases new game De-Authorization Tools". neoseeker.com. Neo Era Media, Inc.. http://www.neoseeker.com/news/10301-ea-releases-new-game-de-authorization-tools/. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
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  23. ^ http://www.noknownsurvivors.com
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