A little over a month ago, Capcom released Dead Rising: Case Zero, a downloadable title that helped get fans of the series involved in the new full release in the series before it came out. This was a brilliant marketing move, and got fans and new players into the game if they were on the fence or not. Well, Electronic Arts went for a similar ploy by releasing the game Dead Space Ignition, which bridged the gap between the first and second game in the Dead Space series. However, this attempt at getting fans excited has backfired in my book, as the game is more frustrating that fun, and doesn’t really get me excited any more for Dead Space 2 then I already was.
The story of Dead Space Ignition is set hours before Dead Space 2. You play as Franco Delille, an engineer on the Sprawl, the station where Dead Space 2 will take place. A necromorph outbreak occurs, and you are sent scrambling to try to contain it while fixing the systems that keep breaking down. The story took me close to two hours to finish, with most of my time being spent in the puzzles, while the cut scenes are relatively short lived, but still make up a decent chunk of the game.
The story can be played through more than once, as there are branching paths that you can go through, based on decisions you can make in game. This is cool addition, but going through the gameplay over and over is not something I want to do, and I will go into why in a moment. The story is interesting, and leaves you with a good conclusion as well as an unlockable suit for Dead Space 2, but again unless you want to go back and see every ending, it will not take you long.
In trying to go for a unique art style, they went for a motion comic style story, with each character having a voice over while the static images moved about on screen slightly. This however, was not in the best interest, as some of the art is downright awful. There were times were I was not able to even tell it was a person, as it looked like the character’s face was melting before my eyes. The images are not very well animated, as the only things that they show are if a necromorph is being dismembered, the two pieces of him or moving away from each other, or if a person I walking, their character is moving up and down. Overall, I did not enjoy the art style at all, and I think that they should have definitely gone a different way with this, as about sixty percent of the game is cut scene, with a few elements of mini games thrown in.
The mini games range from three types: Hardware Crack, System Override and Trace Route. In Hardware Crack, you’re looking at a circuit board with different colored beams of light, and you have to move reflectors to guide colored lasers to the appropriately colored goal. In System Override, it is simply tower defense, but you are on the attack. You have four options of attackers to send out, each one providing its own unique ability. When you have enough minions reach the opposite base, you win. Finally, in Trace Route you control a virus, and must move around obstacles and reach a goal before the other lines reach it first. You can deter your opponents by placing obstacles in your way, and they can do the same.
Each of these three mini games gets increasingly harder, and sometimes too hard. There were times where I seriously wanted to throw my controller across the room, simply because they opponent was too good, or the time limit ran out, or something of the like. The mini games were just not fun, and do nothing to give you any sort of break. And they seem to be very random and hard to control, and what it seems like is that they tried to come up with something that would fill in as gameplay so they would not have to sell this as just a downloadable short film. So, what resulted was very bad gameplay design, and made the game very unmemorable.
Overall, as I have mentioned, Dead Space Ignition is just a very poor attempt to generate hype for Dead Space 2. The art is bad, the mini games are not fun, and the experience is short unless you go back for more endings. It was just not a well thought out device to get people into the lore of Dead Space. It left me ultimately frustrated, and hoping that the second game in the series makes up for this two-fold, because this was not where they wanted to be going into Dead Space 2.
Review copy provided by publisher.