Dead Space Review

Dead Space (v1.1.35) (Android/iOS)
Players: 1
Genre: Action
Developer: Iron Monkey/EA
Marketplace/Apple Store Price: $6.99
[Apple] Release Date: January 25, 2011
[Android] Release Date: December 16, 2011

Game played on HTC Thunderbolt running Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread)

Parent Talk: Dead Space, for iOS and Android devices, is a violence and space monster-filled sci-fi title that bridges the original Dead Space and its proper console sequel. Though mobile games aren’t rated, I recommend keeping this out of the hands of minors.

Review Basis: Finished campaign on Normal difficulty, and most of New Game + as of this writing. Unlocked the majority of the achievements.

Dead Space for iOS/Android devices falls into the uncommon category of legitimate entry into the canon of a major franchise on a mobile platform. As Codename: Vandal, an engineer on the Sprawl, you must fight a Necromorph infestation by any means necessary after being duped into unleashing them on the space station in the first place. Dead Space is a must for those who love the series’ action, as it retains most of the gameplay elements that we’ve become familiar with and enjoy.

The Great:

Legitimate Dead Space. A Dead Space for mobile device has to be watered down, right? Wrong. To an extent that’s true, but not to the degree that you might think. Sure, the production values obviously aren’t as high as the console counterpart(s), and much of the atmosphere is lost on a smaller platform. However, the same HUD-less and Necromorph-filled sci-fi carnage is available for your smartphone or tablet.

The Good:

+ Looks and plays part. Conveying a horror atmosphere as we’re used to on a 40″ or more HDTV with surround sound doesn’t quite translate to a mobile adaptation. Hence, Dead Space goes the route of ‘make you jump’ scares, and it does so well, with freakish creatures that pop out of various places, or simply play dead to catch you off-guard. There’s blood most everywhere you turn, and lots of chopped up bodies. DS isn’t for the faint of heart or squeamish, but appeals to those who enjoy the thrill of massacring an army of space monsters. The detail is impressive, and Vandal especially bears a fond resemblance to our friend Isaac Clarke. Enjoy battling through long stretches of corridor, research and medical laboratories, zero-gravity areas, and much more.

+ Fun equipment. Dead Space I believe struck gold with its concept of turning mining and engineering tools into weapons to strategically dismember the Necromorph horde. Our favorites, like the plasma cutter, ripper, and line gun return. They’re unique, bear secondary firing modes (tilt your device), and upgradeable just like in the console games. It’s a happy moment when you stumble upon a Power Node or two, in order that your toys and suit can be improved in various ways.

+ Controls. Dead Space plays with virtual controls, like most other smartphone and tablet action games. Iron Monkey’s design is particularly great. Instead of a movement stick, you control Vandal by sliding your finger up-and-down and cross the character’s body. By tapping the screen real estate next to Vandal’s body, you pull up the currently equipped tool, where you can then fire, send out a stasis wave, reload, or perform various melee attacks. It’s not perfect, but pretty close to as good as it’ll be.

+ Perfect timing. I clocked in at a hair under five hours to complete the overall mission. That certainly sounds short, but you won’t want it to last longer.

+ Checking it twice. It isn’t enough to finish Dead Space once. If you do on Normal difficulty, its New Game + counterpart opens, in addition to Hard. So, you can either take on the tougher challenge, or restart with all your weapons and upgrades from the get-go.

+ Character interaction. Tyler Radikov and Director Tiedemann accompany you by radio throughout Vandal’s mission. Their interactions with our hero aren’t ground-breaking, but aid in guiding you from point A to B and one objective to the next. There’s a lot of frustration and desperation on the Sprawl, and it all comes out during the conversations.

The So-So:

+- Necromorphs’ appearance. The sounds that Vandal’s enemies emit are much creepier and scarier than how they look…by a longshot. I’m not sure if it’s a low poly-count, lack of clear textures…or what, but the Necromorphs in this mobile device adaptation don’t look all that frightening.

+- The ending. The original Dead Space at least tried to end with a cliffhanger for Isaac Clarke, possibly inducing some unwanted personal business for the player at the same time. I can’t say that about Vandal. Dead Space’s conclusion is an all-around disappointment. I don’t like it when it feels like I enjoyed no ultimate reward for my hours invested in the game experience.

The Bad:

– Audio glitches. I encountered instances of the music cutting out, hearing no voice when a character was speaking, no sound upon firing one of Vandal’s weapons, and so forth. This may have been isolated to my Thunderbolt, but that doesn’t give Dead Space an excuse to not operate properly.

– Lag. Similar to the game’s occasional audio problems, I noticed a trend of skipping in the action, regardless of what I was doing. Most instances lasted nanoseconds, which is forgivable, but sporadically I also experienced significant lag when intense battle was taking place.

The Ugly:

Why does Vandal climb atop the trams? Several times during the campaign you must travel from one section of the Sprawl to another via a tram system. That’s fine and logical, but I didn’t understand why Vandal never made it inside one of them…you know, to be safe(r). Instead, you’re thrown into a roof battle with a militia of Necromorphs that randomly make their way to Vandal’s position. It seems as though the game insisted that you fight the creatures on a moving platform, and a tram top was the only idea for this.

The Lowdown:

It’s extremely cool that Dead Space so closely resembles its console brethren, and yet asks for less than 1/6 of the normal retail cost. If you’re a fan that owns a compatible smartphone or tablet, $6.99 shouldn’t be painful in the least to experience the game. Yes, it isn’t as graceful compared to playing with a traditional controller, but Iron Monkey’s project is still one fun game. Why would you pass up slicing and dicing some Necromorphs on the go?

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8.5/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: It’s Dead Space on a mobile device: very fun and faithful.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: The game especially doesn’t perform well on your device.

Leave a Reply