Co-Written: Dan Morgan
The best games on any console or platform are the ones that come from the complete left field and surprise you. This game is a prime example.
EA Mobile has done a decent job on board and sports games. However, they don’t have a stellar release of anything else compared to Gameloft. After this game, I can say this: EA Mobile could not have opened 2011 with an ever bigger bang that sends chills through everyone, and yes (most importantly), Gameloft.
If there was one thing that the developers made clear from before the game was even released is that they wanted to keep the Dead Space experience faithful to the console version. The iOS version brings all the similar assets from the game, the original sound from the first console game, and brings the whole horror experience to the iOS.
Unlike other FPS on the AppStore, Dead Space has no buttons on-screen for controls, in the truest minimalist style of the game. All the graphics are top-notch, and look fantastic on the devices. The animations are also one of the most important parts of the game, being fluid and accurate. The animations of the characters are actually key to how well the controls work and how the game feels overall, and the developers nailed it.
The animations on the monsters are also very accurate. For example, shooting off a monsters head won’t fully stop them, instead you’ll have them wobbling around without knowing where to go, or shooting off their legs makes them crawl. I was impressed at what a good job the developers did at optimizing this for the iOS devices.
Accompanying the minimalist interface, Dead Space is one of the newer games that actually take advantage of the iPad screen, as well as bringing them to the iPhone. There are no buttons on screen, the controls are taken care of similar to those in Battlefield Bad Company 2, except for some reason they feel much more natural. Dragging on the left side of the screen will move the character, while dragging on the right side will move the camera. Tapping on the right side will raise your weapon, allowing you to aim it, and tapping again will fire.
On the corners there are also other commands, like swiping up to swipe your saw, down to squish a monster, etc. Although I was a bit worried about the controls, they ended up bringing a solid, fluid experience. As for the “iPad controls”, for example, reloading the weapon involves tapping on the projection itself. To open doors, you have to activate the doors using consoles, and so on. A good example are some of the controls from N.O.V.A. HD back from the original iPad release.
The story of Dead Space iPhone is set to gap the hole between Dead Space 1 & 2. Dead Space is a horror FPS, and the game delivers. Thankfully, the game is not on rails, and is a good thing. Throughout the levels, you’ll progress through dark corridors, rooms that will all of a sudden go dark and pair you up against a handful of monsters, or they will come out of nowhere to get you.
The bigger challenge comes as you’re wisely using your ammo, and switching between weapons. As you kill enemies (or bump into one of the many dead bodies) you’ll be able to pick up credits, power nodes, or extra ammo. All of this is used at one point or another, since you can upgrade your weapon on one of the upgrade benches throughout the levels.
The game sometimes drops the volume and sound effects accidentally. This can easily be fixed by changing the volume settings in the Options menu. We found this highly occurs when you pause the game and read the help.
There’s not much that can be done here, but as a word of warning, the game can get really cluttered with the iPhone’s screen once you engage in battle as you’re fingers move all over the screen. If you can only get one version, opt for the iPad.
Dead Space is one of EA’s finest iOS titles and did an awesome game bringing the full Dead Space experience from console to the portable devices, as well as nailing a new unique control scheme.
There are three qualities that make this game a towering success compared to ALL of Gameloft’s games: superb voice acting, impossibly great visuals and the advantage of an officially licensed game built from the ground up, and not a reused engine.
We still love many Gameloft games, but those games simply don’t compare to Dead Space’s epic quality. I could not believe I just said that, but it’s a fair reaction to what a complete surprise this game has been. I’m begging, kneeling and praying that you’d buy this game not tomorrow or the next day or today, but RIGHT NOW!