Monday, November 4, 2013

Thoughts on Dead Space 2

So I just finished Dead Space two and wanted to discuss it a bit. Mostly simply because it is a best example of some trends in game style that I locate are really damaging. I also locate that it has some moments that could have been brilliant if just slightly changed, generating it further exciting to talk about.

Ahead of going into the actual critique I want to say that the game did have some enjoyable components, especially the at occasions absolutely amazing scenery. Dead Space 2 just radiates production value and it is a very nicely-put collectively game. I very liked a lot of it and it is 1 of the few games in current memory that I played till the end. The game has really nice atmosphere in areas and even attempts at a sort of meaningful theme(far more on that later).

At the exact same time, it is quite clear that Dead Space does not aim for any true sophistication. For instance, you require to stomp on dead mutant youngsters to get hold of goodies and gore is really excessive. In a lot of approaches, the game is a lot closer to Dead Alive (Braindead) than to something like Alien, and should possibly be judged that way. Nonetheless, in the following discussion I will approach the game as if the objective was to produce a tense sci-fi horror game.

With that out of the way, let's get down to business.

Low-cost deaths
When I began the game, I was not in the very best of moods (getting a bit agitated), but I did what I could, darkened the area and so on. Almost everything to heighten immersion. As the game began out, it began with a non-playable sequence, some thing which created me loosen up and slowly immerse myself. When the game actually began and I gained control, my mood had changed fairly a bit and I felt I was ready to be immersed and function-play. Then after just playing for 30 seconds or so, I took a incorrect turn and died.

This broke all the immersion I had built up over ten minutes or so, and I had to begin all over. The intent was almost certainly to communicate the danger to the player, but this could have been produced a lot much better. Why not simply hurt the protagonist, or something comparable, providing in-game feedback that the player ought to be quite cautious. After I had died and gotten a loading screen, I had to create up my mood once again almost from scratch.

The identical issue occurred at the end of game, exactly where you require full a sort of chase-sequence before the final cinematic. I was unsure of the controls in this sequence and died just before it was over. Just like with the death at the start, this entirely spoiled my mood and removed any emotional impact the ending may possibly have had. Rather of becoming an thrilling sequence, it became an obstacle and I concentrated on the pure mechanics as an alternative of function-playing.

Possessing low-cost deaths during immersive/emotional events like this is just lazy design. The sequences are meant to be completed in a distinct style anyway, so I can't understand what can be gained by getting players restart more than and over until they "get it". Positive it adds some kind of excitement, but this is greatly removed on subsequent attempts anyway, not speaking of how poor this is for immersion and function-playing. And taking into consideration there are other approaches to add consequences to actions, I do not feel it is a valid reason. It is just falling back to old and uninspired design and style.

Saving Progress
Scattered across the game are save stations, all utilizing an interface similar to 20 year old games. I do not realize why these are in, as it is the most immersion-breaking device one can feel of. Having to enter a menu, and decide on a slot in which to save, has no connection to the game planet at all. Consoles presently have massive challenging drives (and save games can be created extremely modest) so it can't be a technical limitation like in older games. I am guessing it is just another case of falling back to old design patterns, and again I consider it is completely unnecessary.

The way I save games in systems like this is to loop by way of the visible slots (usually four), constantly picking the oldest save game to overwrite. That way I have 3 older save games to go back to in case one thing screws up. As this is essentially the technique we emulate in Penumbra and Amnesia, and no one has raised any complaints on that, I guess I am not alone in saving like this. So, if one still wants to use the save stations, my initial suggestion would be to simply skip the interface and just save upon interaction. If players want to go back to certain areas have a "Save Game" option in the menu or basically a chapter choice.

But why quit at that? I would have liked the game to skip saving altogether and do it automatically for me. Dead Space two implements resource streaming extremely well and you never ever really feel like you travel amongst diverse maps, but roam a continuous environment. Not having any type of visible save technique would fit this design and style perfectly and most most likely improve atmosphere.

It seems really clear to me that Dead Space 2 tries quite difficult to supply a lengthy adventure (took me ten hours or so go by means of) and to do so it repeats several components more than and more than. This is something that exists in just about any game, where the purpose of obtaining filling a specific length quota trumps pacing, story improvement and the like.

For example, I actually liked the 1st time the protagonist is forced to crawl through a ventilation shaft, but the tenth time this was repeated it just felt old and uninspired. Alternatively of attempting to come up with new techniques to produce equivalent moments, the first a single employed is just recycled. Yet another example is the hacking mechanic that was served as an interesting diversion the very first time, but ended up becoming an unwanted frustration.

You hardly ever see this sort behavior in other media (at least the very good works). It is only in games where an, at initial intriguing and noteworthy, occasion/idea is repeated until tedium. I would significantly rather have a shorter game that consistently bombards me with unique and inspiring sequences.

Dead Space two does do this right at a handful of occasions though. For instance, 1 section has the protagonist hanging upside even though enemies swarm from all directions. This sequence is by no means repeated and not even dragged out. I would have liked to see that for all components of the game.

Looting and Shooting
I may possibly be that I am slightly disturbed, but I uncover shooting limbs of monsters a great pastime. Especially with the exciting and significantly varied arsenal that Dead Space two supplies. So a lot did I take pleasure in it in fact that it is tough to concentrate on a lot else. Confident, some of the fighting can be pretty intense with enemies swarming you, but not that much different from how a game like Tetris can be. Added to this is the concentrate on upgrading the weapons and obtaining ammo/money, which additional brings your mindset toward the shooting part of the game.

I have talked about how focusing on entertaining can be negative before, and Dead Space two is such a excellent example. Your primary motivation to explore the atmosphere is not to get deeper into the story or to take pleasure in the art, instead it is to search for goodies. Because the game consistently bombards you with products popping up and force you to pay attention to them (you will run out of ammo otherwise), this becomes the primary issue occupying your thoughts. Every little thing else is basically pushed into the background, which is actually a shame take into account the epic set pieces and at times interesting background information. In their work to comply with "fun" gaming requirements, the creators have in fact let significantly of their tough perform go to waste.

I need to add that the combat was not fully un-scary though. I began out playing on normal, and at a single point, my sources had virtually run out, which produced me a lot far more careful and tense when I believed monsters may possibly be near. As I was place in this state, it completely transformed how I approached the game, and I started to spend much more focus to background sounds and the like. Sadly, as I died the combat sequences stopped getting scary and alternatively became tedious challenges in resource management. This collectively with the improved urge to locate hidden items, killed most of the atmosphere to me. I then adjust to straightforward difficulty and could enjoy the game much more as I did not have to be concerned about looting or combat techniques as significantly.

Dead Space 2 does have a story, but you will have to make an work to uncover and encounter it. As if the focus on combat was not enough, the actual story seems to be consciously pushed into the background. I can in fact only recall one particular time when you had to actively confront the story (reading a note provides a clue on solving a puzzle). The rest of the story just plays out in the background and as a player you are pushed on by the urge of upgrading weapons and dismember mutants.

The game does have some fascinating elements though, for example trying to tie the complete game up with the protagonist's grief, but given that it is so drawn out and overwhelmed by other components, it does not genuinely work. One more intriguing element of the game are some earlier sequences exactly where you encounter individuals fleeing from monsters and individuals locked up in cells. Hearing the hammering of somebody wanting your help was fairly disturbing and had they just added some kind of interaction connected to this (like attempt to open the door) it could have been very effective. Rather it was just pushed into the background.

1 of the story things that I did genuinely enjoy was how a recording spoke of the material of a ceiling in an upcoming space. When entering the room your focus is directly drawn up and you could relate the recording, graphics and background story to every other in a nice way. I actually wished the game had a lot a lot more of this.

In the very first Dead Space you played the component of a silent errand boy, anything that the creators tried to adjust in the sequel. The way they try to do this is to make the protagonist an active character and make his own choices. However, I think this sort of backfired and in Dead Space 2 I had even significantly less of an thought on what is going on. Several instances I had to check the "mission log" in order to uncover out what I was up to, and to uncover out the factors for this. Because the protagonist was currently talking, I wished he could have accomplished this just a little a lot more, explaining his action and reminding me, the player, of what I was supposed to do.

This also connects to the way the story is told, and further distances the player from the events in the game. Instead of deciding for oneself what the correct course of action is, you just stick to the game's instructions in hope that will let you to progress. So although in the preceding game you followed the commands of in-game characters you now stick to the commands game's interface. This is of course significantly less immersive.

Finish notes
Playing Dead Space two produced me each sad and hopeful.

Sad since I really feel there is so considerably excellent operate that has gone to waste and that I hold questioning if there will ever be any modify to this. For every single game i play I feel that there is so significantly possible lost due to following old and dull game conventions.

Hopeful because while there is significantly I do not like, it feels that there is not that a lot needed to totally transform the experience. Just removing all combat focus and creating the game half as long would most likely have created a much more intriguing expertise. The question is if that will ever happen, but now I am at least confident that it is attainable.

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