Dead Space 2 (iPad) Review

In Short
This is as close to a full console experience as youll find on the App Store, and you shouldnt miss out...

In a move Im hoping becomes the norm for all game developers, EA has jumped on the iOS bandwagon. To go hand-in-hand with the companys highly anticipated space horror sequel, Dead Space 2, a totally original Dead Space game has hit the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad users to enjoy. And this is no watered down spin-off, either; the game feels and plays exactly like its console brothers. But how does a title that depends on highly precise shooting and a general lack of ammo translate to the unavoidably imprecise touch screen control scheme?

Lets get this out of the way first: Dead Space on the iPad is not a port of the original Dead Space, nor of Dead Space 2, nor of any of the other spin-offs that have popped up since the originals release. This is an entirely new Dead Space story, and one serious fans will no doubt want to jump right into. It follows Vandal, a man involved with the religion/cult alluded to in other games in the series, and the eventual appearance of the necromorphs. The events of this game lead up to the beginning of Dead Space 2 and provide some context and background on the sequels story, which is a big incentive for fans eager to gobble up every aspect of the series (there are two animated movies and two downloadable spin-off games that illuminate the story as well). Though Ive yet to play Dead Space 2, this games narrative did heighten my anticipation for its release.

Its immediately obvious how much work went into making sure this game could stand shoulder to shoulder with its console counterparts, visually anyway. Dead Space on the iPad looks downright amazing, though the top spot for iOS graphical prowess still belongs to Infinity Blade. The level of detail that EA has smashed onto the iPad is stunning, and it is far better looking than most other iOS games. The quiet space station works exactly like it did in the original Dead Space, creating a level of tension and loneliness while constantly keeping you moving forward to see whats next. Vandal and the necromorphs look equally amazing, though some of the enemies have that blocky feel that comes from straight lines overlaid with dynamic textures. While Ive often said that graphics dont make a game great, Dead Space is a half-exception; if the game wasnt as beautiful as it is, it would have had a hard time creating the foreboding sensation that truly makes the game shine.

The sound design is equally fantastic. This is a game youre going to need a good pair of headphones to appreciate. The games voice-over is well acted, and the unseen radio voice pushing you forward acts as a narrator as well as a guide. The game, like the original, uses dead silence to stir anxiety in the player, with a musical score that rises and falls with the level of action on the screen. Sound effects become an important part of the gameplay as jump out scares are often coupled with an enemy scream or environmental noise, and stereo headphones only serve to enhance the experience.

Dead Space runs into a small roadblock with its controls as they can take a little getting used to. Youll move and look around with the dual stick (without any sticks) setup, and it works pretty well, especially when moving right and left. Tapping icons on the screen opens doors and picks up items, and this also works just like it should. The trouble comes when you are forced into combat. Like Gamelofts Zombie Infection and the Resident Evil 4 port, you must tap a button to bring your weapon up, drag to aim and tap to fire. This is a little clunky, especially in more intense sequences where youll need to move fast and aim faster. Thankfully, this system does allow for very precise aiming, a must when you consider the only way to kill a necromorph is by severing its limbs. To be fair, the controls do become second nature after an hour or so, but even as you become a master, youll be thinking that there was probably a better way to handle Vandal. Haha. Rhyme.

Sorry about that. Anyway, Dead Space on the iPad plays just like the original and its sequel. Its a third-person shooter at its core, and, interestingly, relies more on shooting than the other games in the series. Yes, its still a survival horror game with plenty of scares, but its got way more action than most in the genre. There are times where you might feel things rely a little too heavily on set piece moments, but the gameplay is solid and fun through the entire 6-8 hour adventure. EA also managed to get the zero gravity actions into the game, and the grabbing and flinging of weightless objects is immensely satisfying on the iPads touch screen. Basically, Dead Space on the iPad replicates everything that made the original console title so great.

Despite its somewhat steep price tag of $9.99, Dead Space deserves to be on your iPad. This is as close to a full console experience as youll find on the App Store, and you shouldnt miss out. Once you get the hang of things, youll be hooked and unable to put the game down until its final moments. Thats how I got this review out so fast.

Final Rating: 90%

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Transmitted: 9/22/2017 2:16:20 AM