Taking elements from games such as Resident Evil, BioShock and Doom 3 and fusing them with sci-fi films Alien and Event Horizon, EA's Redwood Shores studio have come up with this belter of a survival horror game.
Dead Space puts you in the boots of Isaac Clarke, a space engineer who, along with a handful of colleagues, travels to the giant mining ship USG Ishimura to investigate why the hulking Planet Cracker-class ship has fallen strangely silent.
Upon docking with the Ishimura, it becomes apparent something has gone horribly wrong and when aliens attack and split up the team, Isaac finds himself all alone.
Utilising the tools of the engineering and mining trade as makeshift weapons, Isaac sets off to discover just what happened to the Ishimura and its crew and attempt to restore power to the ship.
Being a survival horror title, there are lots of dingy corridors, badly lit medical bays and unnerving flashing lights - and of course, aliens hiding in air vents.
The aliens - Necromorphs - are a gruesome bunch and these multi-limbed monstrosities come in many guises, from giant lumbering freaks to fast-moving mutants. The most efficient way of dealing with them is to fire at their limbs. Fortunately, you are equipped with a Stasis tool, which slows time, giving you time to set your aim for a more accurate shot.
As Isaac creeps around the Ishimura he'll find dozens of recorded messages and text logs from the now absent crew. This helps flesh out the background to the fairly generic storyline - and has the added bonus of 360 Achievement points or PS3 Trophies if you find a certain amount.
Workbenches are scattered around the ship, which can be utilised to upgrade Isaac's weapons and spacesuit. There are also a healthy amount of shop portals to find, where you can buy new weapons, ammo, stasis packs, medi packs and new suits.
The journey through the ship is a tense and atmospheric affair thanks to the fantastic graphics and the incredible audio work. Dead Space's visuals are wonderfully polished, and not once did I encounter any graphical gliches or slowdown during my playthrough. There were times, especially on the last level, when I stopped just to look around at the fantastic use of light and colour.
While the graphics are excellent, the audio work is the best I've heard in a game. The metal frame of the ship creaks and groans, scampering footsteps shatter the ghostly silence above you, dead crew members whisper in the background and metal pipes clatter in the distance. It's quite unsettling, especially if your playing through a decent audio set-up.
There are also some wonderful moments when Isaac enters zero gravity. These sections allow you to jump from floor to ceiling in a single bound and are enjoyable interludes from the claustrophobic corridors. The same can be said when Isaac enters the vacuum of space. The sound is muffled and, to add even more tension, your air supply drops at an alarming rate. Add in a few alien attackers, and things can get frantic.
The inventory screen is incredibly well implemented, and there's no need to pause the game. With the press of a button, your items and weapons appear in front of you in hologram form. It's a great system as it doesn't take you out of the experience.
I completed Dead Space in around 12 hours, and I'll definitely go back for more - if I get the chance. It wasn't the hardest of games to complete, but there were challenging moments. For the best experience, I recommend you play late at night with a decent set of headphones plugged in for an unforgettable experience.
Images courtesy of EA