THAT perfect shot has a certain satisfaction to it. Scoring the precise braining bullet from 100 yards, or those rare moments when a grenade actually goes where you want it to. If I am to think of one game that gives every shot satisfaction and puts thought behind where the crosshairs are at all times, I think of Dead Space.
Dead Space created some revolutionary twists on gun-play, and MADE you use them. You don’t play as a warrior or a hardened military man. Isaac Clarke has probably never killed anyone in his life.
With this in mind, fear is bolstered when the necromorphs come.
Isaac is alone, running down a corridor, the ventilation grates bursting open as will become the pattern of his nightmares.
Slipping into a lift and hammering the control pattern, a bladed limb tears at his shoulder. The door slams on the beast, only to be pried back open. You’re given a good look at what’s about to kill Isaac, before boom.
You’re given a good look at what’s about to kill Isaac
The door crushes it; Isaac won’t die yet.What the hell was that! What was that?The lift grinds to a halt, and the door opens on to a room. There’s got to be something in here to help, a knife, a gun, a rusty fucking spoon, anything!
Visceral Games did not mark the plasma cutter, they knew. They knew Isaac would be looking for it, we would be looking for it. Why have a waypoint when desperation drives us? We didn’t know what ‘it’ was, but we knew it had to be there.
Why have a waypoint when desperation drives us?
Lock and load. There are three crosshairs. Crosshairs that can run vertical and horizontal. Isaac tests the fire rate against a wall. Not great, but it will suffice.
One runs at you, no time to raise the weapon fully; the shot hits it in the leg.
It pauses. Another, it rips through at the knee. It collapses, still moving. One more to the head, that’ll do it. The thing swallows a bolt of plasma without flinching. Isaac empties the clip into its head. It’s screaming gurgles away to nothing in the stump of its neck. Attacking the newly found stamp button, the undead freak is crushed to pieces, the squelches drowned out by Isaac’s yells of fear and feigned courage.
They can die.
This is how the game proceeds. You’re given the necessary tools to press forward, yet never feel safe. The game evolves with Isaac, throwing something new at you every time you think you’ve got things under control. Regenerator ambush anyone?
Before it became about the spectacle and feeling like a bad ass in its sequels, this was a game about surviving. About being a lowly engineer. About adapting and figuring out how to cut up the various monstrosities it coughs at you.