Dead Space Ignition Review
Dead Space Ignition is designed as a pre-order bonus for Dead Space 2, but it's also available for purchase from XBLA and PSN as well. It's primarily a vehicle for unlocking extras in Dead Space 2 when it ships – those extras being a hack suit with bonus perks, a weapon skin, bonus audio logs, and extra power nodes, health packs, and credits within the game – but you also get a little extra back story setup for Dead Space 2 with a few mini games mixed in. So while you can think of it as a collection of in-game bonus items wrapped in a motion comic or as an XBLA game with bonus unlocks for Dead Space 2, if you're thinking of spending MS Points on Ignition it's best to think of it as the former. As a game, Dead Space Ignition is not in the least bit noteworthy, so it's really a question of whether or not you think the Dead Space 2 bonus items are worth your money.
The story in Dead Space Ignition is told through a motion comic - which is basically a cheap animation technique in which comic book style panels are "animated" by panning the camera or moving a static person or object across the background. Done right, motion comics can be visually interesting, but in this case the art is rather pedestrian and the animated effects minimal. The story is a bit better than the animation, but not so much so that the whole package can be recommended simply for the story. Sure, it does give you a look at some of the events that take place on The Sprawl, the space station that serves as Dead Space 2's setting, before Dead Space 2 begins, but I really doubt that your Dead Space 2 experience will hinge on whether or not you get to witness the necromorphs first attack on the station.
On the whole the game is rather non-interactive and you will sit there watching things unfold until the protagonist runs into the next obstacle, an obstacle that invariably can be overcome by hacking and this is where the mini games come in. The first game has you guiding an energy ball through an obstacle course in a race to beat the AI-controlled energy balls to the finish line. The second is a tower defense game of sorts in which you're the attacker. The last is a puzzle game in which you have to place mirrors on a circuit board to direct light beams to their receivers. None of these games are all that much fun to play. The racing game is pretty easy, the tower defense game can be won by simply overwhelming the defenses by spamming, and the puzzle game is rather pedestrian. The game includes leaderboards for all of the levels for each of these games, but you'll have little motivation to go back and play them over and again just to shoot for the high score. There are also multiplayer versions of each mini game, but adding more players to the mix doesn't make boring games any more interesting.
At two points in the story you'll be given the choice to follow one path or another, and in this way the game can serve up four different endings to the story. While it is rather simple to cycle through the four endings in four playthroughs by making each combination of choices, the question is whether the story is compelling enough to motivate you to do so. Well, it's not, and one play will probably be more than enough for even the biggest of Dead Space fans.
Final Rating: 40%. Dead Space Ignition is not worth the purchase unless you want to get the unlockable content for Dead Space 2, but if you want the unlocks then you may as well just pre-order Dead Space 2 and get Ignition for free. Play the game long enough to secure your unlockables and then go play something else