Setting up the stage for the console release of “Dead Space 2” is the iPhone version of “Dead Space.” Not to be confused as a port of the first game, it is in fact, an entirely new story and sports amazing graphics. Despite its somewhat confusing gesture-based controls, it really shines through as a console quality game on a phone.
While the term “console quality” is thrown around by smarmy PR guys to pitch games, this title actually fits the bill and scope. Most games on the iPhone are digestible in minutes; “Dead Space” takes nearly 5 hours. The game is long even by handheld standards.
The story starts out with recent Unitology convert, Vandal, being told what to do to allow the Church to be unhampered by the Government. What this amounts to is Vandal going around and cutting off circuits to allow the Necromorphs, (the main enemy in the series,) onto the mining city-state known as “The Sprawl.” While not starkly different from the first game, the player will be tasked with navigating through metallic corridors and darkly lit metallic corridors. The setting eventually changes into large mine shafts and sewer systems by the latter half of the game.
The shining stars of this game are the graphics and the audio. If the game is not played with headphones, the player really misses out on the tense atmosphere that the developers have created. It’s impressive that such high quality sound plays from the player’s iPhone. Even more impressive is how consistent the audio is. Footsteps change with material that is walked on, monsters pop out of grates and the sound emulates the actions perfectly.
Weapons of the game are the same from the first and function nearly the same as well. The exception is the controls. To move, the player slides their thumb on the left side of the screen, and sliding the thumb on the right moves the camera around. To bring up the weapon, tap the screen; to fire, tap it again. To change to the secondary firearm, tilt the device. While it’s confusing at first, 20 minutes of play will see the player controlling Vandal with ease. The downside is that when things get hectic, the player might accidentally shift to secondary fire in the heat of battle.
Another annoyance is that the game is too dark at times, forcing the player to stand in the dark part of the room and wait for the Necromorph to wander into the light to be blasted to chunks. With the exception of the glowing enemies, this is quite annoying. The player can change the brightness in the menu, but that destroys the atmosphere of the game.
In all, “Dead Space” is quite good and a steal at seven bucks. With the option to unlock concept art and wallpapers as well as a surprise for the console version of “Dead Space 2,” the game makes its case, despite a few minor issues.