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iPhone Preview: Dead Space

Posted on 3rd Jan 2011 at 08:33 by Joe Martin with 15 comments

Joe Martin
It’s too easy to use the word ‘impressive’ to describe some of the new releases hitting the App Store lately; the word is starting to lose meaning and isn’t that useful to start with. We’re talking about games running on a mobile phone – all they have to do is be even semi-playable and they end up way ahead of expectations.

Dead Space for the iPhone, however, looks very impressive.

The kudos here doesn’t stem just from the graphical detail that’s been ploughed into the game though, but more from the depth of the gameplay. Dead Space on the iPhone is essentially that – Dead Space for the iPhone, feature complete. It has the same third person perspective, the same sprawling and haunting levels and the same focus on dismembering enemies. Lopping limbs off with your array of mining tools and scavenged weapons is a little bit trickier on a touch screen than on consoles or PC, but it’s still manageable and fun.

iPhone Preview: Dead Space
Dead Space for iPhone

Dead Space’s first level didn’t leave a great impression, however. Once more cast as engineer Issac Clarke, the preview opened with a glorified mine cart sequence, with us trying to stop Necromorphs from swarming us. There was only a limited amount of movement and the entire thing felt very ‘on rails’, thus negating the glory of the graphics. It was all too easy to yawn through the battles and assume that the entire game would be made of similar sequences.

After the shaky start, however, things quickly improved. The next level drops Isaac into a familiar-looking space station lobby and lets him roam freely. Workbenches and vending machines offer the chance to upgrade weapons and armour, build new weapons and buy extra ammo, just like in the original game. Even the holographic displays that wowed us so much in the original, PC release make a return too and, while we didn’t get a chance to see them first hand, the developers assured us that the zero-gravity sequences would make a return as well.

iPhone Preview: Dead Space
Dead Space for iPhone

What’s most amazing about all this, however, is that Dead Space brings all this variety across to the iPhone without losing any of the accessibility. The controls in Dead Space are, with only a few minor exceptions (shooting the special Kinesis power can take some getting used to), so fluid and easy to use that they put other shooters on the iPhone to shame.

Our only concern, in fact, is whether or not the idea of playing Dead Space on our mobile phones is one we’ll actually find all that attractive in real life, as lengthy singleplayer games aren’t an easy fit with the platform. This isn’t the type of thing we can imagine ourselves dropping in to and playing for the 10 minutes it takes for the bus to turn up. Then again, if this iPhone version – which will apparently help bridge the gap between the original Dead Space and the sequel due in early 2011 – manages to be as gripping as the first game, then we might make an exception.

Dead Space is being developed by Electronic Arts and will be released for all iDevices in Q1 2011

15 Comments

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sausages 3rd January 2011, 13:22 Quote
Quote:
lengthy singleplayer games aren’t an easy fit with the platform

Hmm, lengthy single player games are my favourite thing. The iPhone already has far too many little puzzle type games that I can play while waiting 10 minutes for the bus, so I really want more proper games. One of my best so far is The Quest, but a shooter would be nice too.
johnnyboy700 3rd January 2011, 14:28 Quote
Good god, Dead Space in your pocket, whatever next.

I can just imagine somebody playing this on a crowded train and who ever is next to them seeing some necromorph dismemberment when they sneek a peek or if the person playing has the volume level at typical iphone/ipod levels.
ghost55 3rd January 2011, 17:34 Quote
I just want a handheld gaming device with dual ANALOG sticks!
LordPyrinc 3rd January 2011, 21:48 Quote
But can it run Crysis?
sausages 3rd January 2011, 23:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghost55
I just want a handheld gaming device with dual ANALOG sticks!

ME TOO! I usually dislike playing iPhone games that has a virtual analogue pad. It hurts my thumb and it feels weird and I just really dislike it. That's why I try to only buy games that involve touching the screen with my finger tip - which luckily is most games.

But even if the iPhone just had one real analogue stick on the left, I would love that. There are some good iphone games that use the virtual analogue stick and I can't buy them because of that :/
Cthippo 4th January 2011, 00:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by LordPyrinc
But can it run Crysis?

You remember how for so many years the great challenge of any new hardware was "Can we run Doom on it?".

Crysis is the new Doom.
azrael- 4th January 2011, 13:51 Quote
The problem with running "big" games on these rather small devices is that, however technically great both software and hardware is, you lose the immersion by looking at a 3-4" screen. Ok, the iPad has a larger screen, but it's still not enough in my opinion.
murraynt 4th January 2011, 18:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
The problem with running "big" games on these rather small devices is that, however technically great both software and hardware is, you lose the immersion by looking at a 3-4" screen. Ok, the iPad has a larger screen, but it's still not enough in my opinion.

The biggest problem is that the battery turns to jelly :(
StoneyMahoney 5th January 2011, 22:37 Quote
Gaming device with dual analogs? Hows does this look:

http://www.openpandora.org/

Little ugly and a pain in the ass to order, but it's.... oh god, I almost wrote "impressive".... DOH!
sausages 6th January 2011, 00:43 Quote
I actually got really nicely immersed in the two big RPG's I've played on iPhone. The Quest was great and really memorable for me, and I felt like I was there. I hold the screen quite close to my face so that helps, but really I love gaming on the iPhone, and that game in particular.

I think with proper games though, I'm always going to play them on my PC first and experience them 'properly'. To then be able to play them on the go is just a bonus.

As for that Pandora box, I really like it. If it can run dosbox and play my old favourites then I'd quite like one. The problem is that it's not a phone and it doesn't play films and music (I think). So I'm still going to have to take my iPhone with me everywhere, and I would have to take that in addition. My phone has one pocket and my wallet and keys have the other pocket, so if I had an extra device like this, I would have to carry it, and if I was going to have to carry something extra, I would rather just have a good laptop. Once these little pocket portables finally evolve in to an all-in-one device though, I can say goodbye to my iPhone. It's bigger and less slick looking, but being able to play dosbox games would make it worth it, to me.
StoneyMahoney 6th January 2011, 20:50 Quote
I must admit, I am kinda of torn between the Pandora and the 4th gen iPod Touch. App and game support on the iPod will be far better but the Pandora does have the analog sticks and dual SDHC cards... I'm also unsure about the Pandora's video playback capabilities. I haven't seen anything about how well the decoding features of it's chipset (which IIRC is the same one the 3rd gen iPod Touch uses) are leveraged, but it would be pretty cool to stand a Pandora on the train table in front of me on my epic commute home instead of awkwardly balancing an iPod somewhere. I don't have any problem carrying lots of little devices around with me, I like my phone and games console to not share a battery. ;)

Still, that Pandora is very hard to get and *expensive*...

EDIT: One Google search later, I find VLC has been ported to the Pandora. Still need to find out what res/complexity H264 it can handle.

EDIT2: It has trouble with 576P h.264 unless you overclock it. I think I'll get an iPod Touch.
leveller 7th January 2011, 10:33 Quote
I see a problem brewing here ... if any games last longer than 10 minutes on the iPhone or any small mobile device, are you going to mark them down?

Maybe you need one of the team who spends more time commuting to review the bigger stuff?

Would it be any good on a 12 hour flight?
CardJoe 7th January 2011, 10:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by leveller
I see a problem brewing here ... if any games last longer than 10 minutes on the iPhone or any small mobile device, are you going to mark them down?

Maybe you need one of the team who spends more time commuting to review the bigger stuff?

Would it be any good on a 12 hour flight?

I have an hour-long commute, actually :p

It's not a matter of how long the game lasts anyway, but the details of the saving system. If a game is developed for a multi-purpose and obviously mobile platform then it's surely not too much to ask that it be designed with a save-anywhere system?
leveller 7th January 2011, 11:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CardJoe
I have an hour-long commute, actually :p

It's not a matter of how long the game lasts anyway, but the details of the saving system. If a game is developed for a multi-purpose and obviously mobile platform then it's surely not too much to ask that it be designed with a save-anywhere system?

Totally agree! In this day-and-age it should not even be called a feature, more so a basic requirement!
:)
StoneyMahoney 8th January 2011, 10:41 Quote
I guess the DS has the feature that the Apple devices need to ape somehow - you close the lid, the game is paused and it goes to sleep on the spot. Perfect for changing trains or getting on/off the bus.
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