In 1999, a game called System Shock 2 was released for the PC. The game takes place in a spaceship where some type of genetic disorder (probably an understatement) that turns the humans into mutants. You play as a lone soldier, going through the ship trying to figure out what’s going on. The game is generally regarded as one of the scariest games of all time due to the constant threat of mutants, lack of ammunition, and it’s excellent use of sound.
So what’s that have to do with Dead Space? It feels almost like a sequel to that game.
Fans of System Shock 2 will notice basic similarities right off the bat. The way the game doesn’t have cutscenes, but instead you are looking through the eyes (or in Dead Space’s case, above the shoulder) of your protagonist at all times. This is extremely important, because it really helps to give you the feel of being in this spaceship, rather than just controlling a character in a video game.
In addition to this, the way you get information is very much the same. Instead of talking to villagers, or reading manuals, or things that are in other video games, you find video, audio, and written logs. For the most part, they are not necessary to watch/listen to/read, but they give you more information about your surroundings. And, much like System Shock 2, you do all these things while the game is still playing. No pause, no nothing.
The way the game is scary is also very similar to System Shock 2. It uses sound, and enemies behind every corner to instill a sense of fear on you. But in addition to these to, due to the higher capabilities of the PS3 (or 360), the lighting and shadows also play an important role. You’ll be walking along in a room and all of a sudden, you’ll see a shadow move across the wall or lights will flicker on and off. The sound and lighting create this really scary atmosphere. Add the fact that you are completely alone, and you’ve got an extremely scary game.
The gameplay and the graphics are the only things that really differ so far. The gameplay is more similar to Resident Evil 4 than any first person shooter, and the graphics are far better, and grittier, than System Shock 2 and are some of the best that I’ve ever seen.
I haven’t finished the game yet, but so far it’s pretty amazing, and anyone who is a fan of scary games or Resident Evil 4 should pick this one up.