Looks like the lead up to Dead Space 2 is dead on arrival…
It seems that the new trend for horror titles these days is force the release of the game to be the crescendo rather than a convenient passing. Dead Rising 2 lightly sloshed the bloodbath before it could be reasonably filled with Dead Rising:Case 0 a week before release. Now, inspirational copycats EA feel the need to shoe in a prequel for their own flagship horror franchise Dead Space 2 with Ignition…a full 3 months before release.
Set between the events of the first and second game (and not to be mixed up with any other prequels, epilogues or side-storylines for the franchise), Dead Space: Ignition tells the story of Franco the Engineer and Sarah the Cop stationed on ‘The Sprawl’. After a few initial engineering jobs, the uninspired duo find themselves trapped in the centre of a Necromorph outbreak similar to that of the first game, yet after escaping the first barrage of infectious corpses set about doing their day to day jobs as standard and get about fixing lifts and electric doors.
Not to be confused with its bowel exploiting brethren, Ignition manipulates the ships technological structure to provide constant puzzles to crack from beginning to end. Despite taking the guise of a dedicated puzzle title, however, the game only feature 3 brief mini-games that casually impede progress.
The most action orientated and enjoyable of the three is ‘Trace Route’, a game which pits you in a side scrolling race against tiny coloured dots Tron style. In your efforts to get from A to B, you’ll be locked by several obstacles and walls, as well be constantly outnumbered by opponents who rely on nothing but smacking you about whilst others choose to overtake. Though slightly frustrating with a lack of foresight as to where you’re actually heading to thanks to a terrible camera, there’s no denying that these fights to the finish get incredibly tense towards the goal.
In more disappointing context comes ‘Hardware Crack’, a simple task where you must guide different coloured beams round a board by placing mirrors strategically in order to guide said beams to their destinations. Annoyingly, however, as the rules begin to get more complex and you’re permitted to use more hardware, you’re idiotic boss starts to overcomplicate your capabilities, and your only source of information on how to beat these puzzles suddenly becomes confusing. The unclear rules coupled with some shoddy visuals leads this more to be an entire game of luck and improvisation, rather than challenging your perception.
Jumping on Capcom’s horror prequel bandwagon
At least ‘Hardware Crack’ needs some form of brain power, unlike the ridiculously linear ‘System Override’. With much in common tot eh typical tower defence game, the roles are reversed so that players must work their way through a series of defences with various different viruses. The major issue is the defences just don’t put up a fight. Once you’ve found the right combination of viruses to use (one followed by the other), it becomes more of a button bashing nightmare than your standard hack ‘n’ slash title.
Though unsatisfying gameplay is a factor in jumping on Capcom’s horror prequel bandwagon, the major giveaway is the lacklustre presentation. Cutscenes largely fill out the plot with bizarre cel-shaded comic style graphics. Movement for all the characters is depicted through minor shifts in body parts moving into completely off scale positions like something from Alien, which although fitting in the mind of an optimist, is frigging ugly.
The voiceovers don’t exactly ease the already abused senses either, with characters banging on with the same old cliché horror narrative that drives every Blockbuster flop at the cinema into the ground. After the initial shocks of limb tearing, torso infesting aliens invading the ship become clear to our supposed ‘heroes’, the two seem completely un-phased by all the guts that have scattered towards them, punching forth one liners like nobodies business and brisking cautious flirtation in every desolate corridor they traipse down. It’s not exactly fitting, and it’s not exactly likeable. The two are so generic that players won’t even care for their survival, and making a funeral that not even the parents of the two would attend due to some more exciting food cupboard filing they could be doing.
The only way Dead Space: Ignition can drag in the most dedicated of fans is with the promise of a costume unlock for Issac upon purchase of Dead Space 2 next year. There are multiple routes to take should anyone which to give this a second shot, yet the poor collection of puzzles will soon snipe that thought from your mind. You’ll be hard pressed to find any other reason to drive through 3 increasingly dull mini-games, cringe-worthy character performances and a narrative for a prequel/interquel that adds nothing to the finely crafted lore Dead Space is attempting to create for the franchise. For a warm up to the most nerve shattering, bone breaking, limb tearing gore cake of 2011, Dead Space: Ignition is ridiculously tame.
The Bad: Terrible voiceovers, Dull puzzles with one not requring any thought, Interesting yet ugly art style,
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