So, about two weeks ago, I got an iPad as a gift. Talk about one hell of a gift, right? The intended use was for readings, notes, etc… However, one of the first things I did was buy a couple of games, mainly Secret of Mana (my childhood in a nutshell), Infinity Blade (awesome game) and, being the horror nerd that I am, Dead Space. I was eager to know if the Dead Space experience could translate to a mobile device, even one large enough as the iPad. So, how does the game fare? Check after the jump my fellow Unitologists!
I’m going to break this review down into four main parts: Story, Graphics, Sound/Music, and Gameplay. This will make it easier for me to focus my thoughts and easier for those of you who want to skip around and get to the part you care about the most. The Baby Factor: If Dead Space banged a PS2 but didn’t last as long it had hoped for, Dead Space for iPad would be the diseased whelp.
This game follows Vandal, a character who was deceived by the Church of Unitology to help release the necromorphs amongst the general population of mines of Titan. As you progress through each chapter, you learn more from different characters who communicate with you via radio. The further you progress in the game, the more you learn and the more you hate the Church of Unitology (but that just might be the bitter atheist in me coming out). Overall, the story is very engaging and helps further the mythos of the Dead Space series. Oh, and the twist at the end of the game? Very predictable if you know anything about video game history.
Okay, I’m no expert on the graphics chip of the iPad or what its limits are, but this game looks GOOD! It doesn’t have 360 or PS3 graphics by any means, but it’s no stretch to say that the graphics rival and even beat Xbox and PS2 visuals. There was very rarely any slow down or clipping, even when a lot was happening on the screen. I’ve read from user reviews that EA has pushed the limits of what the iPad can do and that people are in awe. I’m gong to have to agree. My only complaint is the massive amount of recycling of textures that was used. Get used to the look of some of the hallways as you’ll be seeing them throughout the whole game.
Obviously, with a device like the iPad, you’re going to want to use headphones while playing. First off, this makes the experience that much more immediate and intense. Second of all, the iPad speakers, as good as they are, aren’t what you want as your main source of sound. Once you’ve got your headphones on, you’re in for a great sonic experience. The music tracks are all taken from Jason Graves’ Dead Space score, so it’ll be familiar terrifying music haunting your every step. The sounds are well executed and, again, familiar as it’s probably nothing you haven’t already heard before in one of the Dead Space games. Lastly, the voice acting is also very solid.
The game works in a rather interesting manner with the left side of the screen acting as your D-pad (the moment you place your thumb down, no matter where, that becomes the center of the D-pad) and the right side allows you to look around, raise your weapon, pick up items and activate your stomp and swipe attacks. It gets a bit convoluted some times and there are times when the controls decide to start failing you for a second, usually at the worst possible moment.
The game is extremely linear, offering very few side paths that are all short in length, cutting down on the exploration aspect. Also, the tram sequences are repetitive and quickly becoming frustrating as there is not a lot of room to maneuver around, making running away to reassess your situation near impossible.
However, these few faults don’t take away from what is ultimately a very entertaining and scary experience.
Dead Space for iPad is a prime example of what mobile gaming can offer. It took me almost three hours to beat my first playthrough and I’m eager to get back in for a New Game + scenario. Add to this that there are achievements and you’ve got a game that rivals most of the Xbox Live Arcade/PSN Games recently released. Dead Space for iPad is the beginning of what might be a gaming revolution.
The Final Word: With a price tag of $9.99, it does seem like a bitter pill to swallow hitting the ‘Buy App’ button. Ten minutes later and you’ll have forgotten all about that awful taste.