7.6

Dead Space

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Dead Space

Publisher: EA Games
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Averting disaster, once again, requires plenty of gore

Zombie-like aliens overtake an abandoned ship floating through space, and it’s your job—as the none-too-subtly-named Isaac Clarke—to traverse the corpse of the ship while running a series of mostly forgettable errands. That’s right: It’s Shinji Mikami’s Resident Evil 4 meets Ridley Scott’s Alien. Even the over-the-right-shoulder viewpoint is lifted straight from RE 4. And like Alien, the game’s most unnerving moments are found between encounters. Listening to the sound of something scuttling in the overhead ducts is far more goosebump-inducing than finally seeing whatever horror emerges.

To battle the aliens, you must shoot off their gangly limbs, a concept that the game refers to as “strategic dismemberment.” This works well to maximize the gore quotient, while also giving the game a layer of strategy. Example: Enemy sprinting towards you? Aim for the shins. The alien creatures get more varied later in the game—look out, here comes a fat one!—and once the controls become intuitive, the game does seem to finally hit its stride. But Dead Space never quite manages to shake that pesky borrowed feeling, reducing it to a mere B-movie-style guilty pleasure rather than a must-play game.

Watch the trailer for Dead Space: