iPhone Review: Dead Space

Written by Joe Martin

February 6, 2011 // 9:52 a.m.

Tags: #apple #dead-space-electronic-ar #games #gaming #iphone #iphone-review #mobile-gaming

It’s startling what’s possible with technology these days. A few decades ago Pong! was the pinnacle of interactive entertainment, and digital watches were the height of fashion. Nowadays, games such as Dead Space for iPhone offer console-like experiences on pocket-sized devices. Meanwhile, I’m wearing a wind-up watch, so maybe not everything progresses equally.

The term ‘console-like experience’ is one that gets bandied about a lot on the AppStore, with the likes of the simplistic-but-stylish Infinity Blade making an especially big deal about it. To us, though, the iPhone version of Dead Space is the first title that really lives up to that claim, matching great graphics with decent complexity.

Casting players as a new character in the Dead Space universe, codenamed Vandal, Dead Space for iPhone bridges the game between the 2008 series debut and the more recent sequel. Acting as a secret agent for the church of Unitology, Vandal is manipulated in the opening chapters in order to contribute to the disaster that forms Dead Space 2’s backdrop.
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iPhone Review: Dead Space
Dead Space for iPhone

In an effort to escape and repent, Vandal faces off against the now-familiar cast of alien mutants using a semi-familiar arsenal of weapons, plus two all-new additions – the core extractor and the plasma saw. As with the iPhone version's bigger brother's enemies, you’ll need to blow the limbs off the enemy Necromorphs in order to kill them quickly – something that’s very impressive to see on a platform as diminutive as the iPhone.

The dissection also makes Dead Space on the iPhone an incredibly gory affair too, possibly more so than any other iPhone game we’ve yet seen. Blowing Necromorphs apart yields a lot of blood and guts, spattering more icky-ness across gross and dark levels – levels which are stunningly large and detailed too.

It’s not just a matter of running and gunning, however. The iPhone version also features small tactical and RPG choices, just like the console and PC releases. Ammo and health packs are limited resources, which you’ll have to conserve and utilise carefully, although it’s worth mentioning that the iPhone game limits these more stingily than the ‘full’ game. This is because the iPhone version features micro-transactions, meaning that players are charged extra for weapon upgrades and extra power nodes.

iPhone Review: Dead Space
Dead Space for iPhone

Purchasing these upgrades is optional and it’s possible to complete the game without them, but it’s certainly disappointing to know you might miss some game content without them, especially when Dead Space is far from free to start with.

Despite this one significant shortcoming, however, Dead Space on the iPhone remains an incredibly polished and good looking title. The controls are superb too; the left side of the screen controls movement, while the right pans the camera, and tapping various hot spots lets you use your Stasis ability.

Verdict: While we don’t approve of the micro-transactions that have been cynically forced on to an already premium pp, we can’t deny that Dead Space for the iPhone is a great game, which offers a truly console-like experience.

Dead Space is developed by Electronic Arts and is available for iDevices via the AppStore.

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