A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that they should take heed of the "Mature" warning. Just like horror films that served as an influence in this video game thriller, players will shoot at alien creatures who spray blood and fall in a bloody heap to the floor. This is an extremely bloody and gory game. You will find decapitated humans (and can kick around their heads, as all items in the world operate on real physics). Human body parts can also be found and you can target specific parts of the body in combat. Extreme foul language abounds.
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What's it about?
A refreshing change from all the video game sequels and movie tie-ins these days, DEAD SPACE is a brand-new thriller that combines a sci-fi storyline with "survival horror" game-play elements -- therefore it's no surprise the game makers refer to it as a cross between Alien and Resident Evil. Dead Space takes place 500 years in the future, when a rescue team travels to deep space to investigate a mining ship that has abruptly ceased contact with Earth while orbiting above an ominous-looking planet. You play as an engineer, Isaac Clarke, tasked to restore the Ishimura's communications system, but while roaming the eerie corridors you discover the ship's crew has been decimated by vicious aliens. And the E.T.s are still here.
Played from a third-person perspective, you navigate Clarke around gorgeous, high-definition environments with no icons, numbers, or maps on the screen to remind you this is a video game. Instead, you'll keep an eye on the back of the protagonist's spacesuit as it reveals his health (indicated by a glowing turquoise meter), an air supply timer (ideal for zero-gravity sequences), and on the back of most weapons, you'll see a digital number that counts down how much ammo is left. The only thing that ruins the suspension of disbelief is pictures of floppy disks you'll find strewn throughout the spaceship, which is where you can save your progress during the game.
Is it any good?
Dead Space offers plenty of action (with the ability to target and dismember specific alien body parts); puzzle-solving challenges (such as getting machinery to work or opening locked doors); handy gadgets (like gravity boots and purchasable items using found credits); and boasts a Hollywood-worthy script, tense atmosphere, and a music soundtrack that begins with a haunting rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Kudos to EA for creating an exhilarating and nail-biting mature adventure to play alone, at night, and with the lights off. Note: the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC versions of the game all play out the same.
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