YouTube link for mobile viewing
Ed. note: The game was sideloaded on a Toshiba Thrive, as it doesn't natively install from the Android Market.
Oh, boy, here we go again. One man stranded on a spaceship? Been there. Hordes of Necromorphs? Done that. On Android? Well now, slow down there, Ace. Now we're talking.
Yes, it's finally happened. Electronics Arts has brought its shock-filled, gore-laden, space epic to Android, and man oh man, was it worth the wait. Dead Space has all the markings of a AAA title, and if it weren't for the slightly dumbed down graphics, you wouldn't know you were playing on a mobile device.
For fans of the Dead Space story, you'll be pleased to know that Dead Space (for Android) is part of the canon and takes place three years after the first official game but before the events of the second.
You play the aptly-named Vandal, a voice-distorted, identity-protected agent of the Church, who is "perfect" for sabotaging power supplies and causing havoc on his ship. Well, until all Hell breaks loose. Necromorphs start pouring out from every hole and crevice, gallivanting about all nimbly bimbly, all with the intent to gobble you up.
But this is Dead Space. You expected that.
For a mobile game, Dead Space plays well. Incredibly well, actually. EA has finally come up with a control scheme that doesn't use a restricting virtual joystick but still is as tight and (fairly) precise as a physical one. Instead of limiting your movement within an imaginary circle, EA simply says, "Move your fingers on top of Vandal as though you were using a virtual joystick and he'll respond appropriately."
It's effective, it feels good, and you never run the risk of stretching your hands too far out and running into the bezel, thereby stopping your movement completely. It works, and I hope to see other enterprising game developers shamelessly copy this control method for their own games. It'll make everyone's experience better.
Shooting is equally intuitive, with a simple tap bringing up your targeting reticule, and another tap popping off a shot. For those mining weapons that can shoot either horizontally or vertically, EA employed a quick screen tilt to change firing modes. No buttons to push, no combos to remember, just a quick tilt and the accelerometer will handle the rest. Just like with the non-existant joystick, it just works.
Graphically, the game looks great. Yeah, they're not quite PC or console graphics (that's especially evident on the Necromorphs close up), but by and large, everything looks amazing. Vandal looks like an absolute boss, and the glowing column along his spine (along with the rest of his getup) is incredibly detailed.
The opening sequence of the game also realy shows off the masterpiece EA has put together for us. Ship environments look realistic. Planets look impressive and rocky. With six different environments to fight (and survive) through, you'll constantly be finding something new to look at (and admire). Weapons look not only futurisitc and worthy of your nerd love, but functional, too. And did I mention the whole thing is voice acted?
There's also the requisite amounts of over-the-top gore, seen as you dismember Necromorphs, find brutalized corpses, and discover messages written in the final moments of someone's life. It all adds up to the heart-pounding experience EA is trying to pull you into. (I mean, they do recommend playing the game with headphones on.)
Overall, Dead Space is one of the strongest entries we've had into serious Android gaming yet, and it has earned a special spot in the upper echelons of the Market, reserved only for those games that truly push the boundry of what we're seeing. Other notables that come to mind are Shadowgun and Emissary of War, so Dead Space finds itself in elite company, and rightfully so.
If you can handle the gore, the thrills, and the heart-pounding "gotcha" moments, Dead Space is most definitely for you. Dead Space is $7.43 in the Android Market.
We've got download links after the break.