Let There Be Plasma Cutters: Dead Space for iOS Review

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Dead Space for iOS
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: IronMonkey Studios
Systems it’s available on: iPhone, iPad
System reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Whoever is out there saying that iPhone and iPad games will never be as good needs to download Dead Space for iOS. Not only does it show off the graphics, sound and touch screen capabilities of the iOS devices, at $7 it’s much cheaper than buying a traditional game for a handheld gaming device.

Dead Space for iOS is a completely new adventure in the franchise where you follow an engineer named Vandal as he’s guided by someone as he tries to escape from an underground facility. It brings back the saw gun, kinesis and plasma cutter that fans loved from the console versions of the game, but because you’re playing on a touch screen surface it gives new toys for players to tinker with whether you are new games or not. With three modes to try out, even though the whole game doesn’t take that long to go through (it’s 12 short chapters and about five hours of gameplay), there’s some replay value especially since you gain new weapons as you progress and can use them upon replay.

I have to admit even I was skeptical that I would get smooth gameplay on my iPhone 3GS because my phone takes forever to download new emails or load Google maps. However, for the hours that I played the game, it did not crash even once and used relatively little of my already depleted battery. I was pleased to find that by pausing the game you could do a quick battery check, instead of having to press the home button and then go back into the game. Controls on how to move did take me a few minutes to get used to – I kept zooming in instead of running in the beginning because of how sensitive the touch screen was – and I did wish that there was some sort of calibration function or at least some option to change how I viewed the game permanently. Another thing was turning and throwing items with kinesis was a little difficult on the iPhone surface, and I could see how the game would be much easier to play on the larger iPad.

The first chapter helps you out a lot by walking your finger with a tap here, swipe there message when you need to do something so you feel comfortable enough by the time the Necromorphs start coming around and trying to eat your soul. The good news is the instructive features eventually taper off so it’s not just someone telling you what to do at every moment. While there are plenty of prompts to tell you when to do what action – which could be improved if the game let the player decide a little more for themselves whether they wanted to shoot with a line gun or swipe with a plasma cutter earlier on- there’s also lots of lockers for you to click on to get items like get bonus ammo and the map function eventually wanes to give you a break from all the handholding.

The beauty behind Dead Space for iOS however, is that it takes the player through a cohesive short story. Realizing that they couldn’t get multiple zombies to attack you at the same time because of the limitations of the software, the developers focused on narrating a journey like most games in the horror genre do and explaining why your character is where he is. Aided by the fact that you can tap almost anywhere on the screen and activate something vital to gameplay, there’s stuff to interest you for the short time it takes you to complete the game even though the twists and turns of the hallways only distinguished by different levels of lighting can get a bit tiresome. The sound quality (especially when you wear headphones) and graphics are excellent and little things thrown in Necromorphs who look dead but suddenly spring to life or one scene where you think your battery is dead, but it’s actually the game, help add to the experience.  Is the iPhone game an appropriate replacement for going out and buying the console game? Definitely not: It does have its limitations and can’t really expand and add tons of new information and nuances to Dead Space franchise as much as a console title can. However, for an iPhone game that you can play on the go and an addition to the Dead Space family, it can proudly hold its own.

Official Techland Score: 8.5 out of 10

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