Dead Space (Xbox 360)

I’ve mentioned this game a couple of times now, but now that I’ve actually finished it (on the easiest level, naturally – I’m rubbish at games) I thought I’d do a quick review. Why? The timing of its release was terrible: instead of shining like an oasis during the summer games drought, a period so bad that people (well, me) spent hard-earned cash on crap such as Fracture because there was sod-all out, it came out just as big hitters such as Gears of War 2 and Fallout 3 were on their way to the shelves – which means there’s a good chance it’ll be overlooked. That’d be a shame, because it’s the most fun I’ve had with a game for ages.

Reviews have said it’s derivative, which it is: a lot of Alien, a bit of Doom and a soupcon of Prey. They’ve said it flags a bit in the middle, which it does. They’ve suggested that the story is a bit rubbish, which it is. And they’ve said the scares are of the simplest, open a box, AAARGH MONSTER kind. Which is a wee bit unfair.

There are indeed plenty of open a box, AAARGH MONSTER scares in the game, but what Dead Space is really good at is establishing a constant feeling of dread. Imagine your testicles were filled with explosives, and the explosives were really quite volatile, and you’re on a bus being driven by an idiot, and it turns onto a cobbled street, and there are lots of holes in the ground, and the driver speeds up, and you know that sooner or later your balls are going to blow up. You know it’s going to happen, but you don’t know exactly when it’s going to happen.

Dead Space is a bit like that. But with AAARGH MONSTERS instead of balls.

It’s not a 10/10 game by any means, and it’s not a 9/10 either, so if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t buy anything unless Edge has okayed it then you might not bother. But it’s worth getting hold of pre-owned, or when it hits the bargain rails, or on eBay, because it’s about ten hours of solid entertainment. It’s the game I’d hoped Doom 3 would be – dumb, derivative, gory fun.