Electronic Arts continues to lead the way in the category of high-end experiences on your iPhone. Dead Space carries on their tradition of successfully squeezing big-budget console games onto the iOS platform, without making it feel as though it’s been shoehorned in as a quick-and-easy port. On the contrary, Dead Space for iPhone was designed specifically with the platform in mind, accounting for its strengths and weaknesses. The result is a wonderful game that any fan of the Dead Space series, or fans of the survival horror genre in general, would be glad to have in their collection.
With Dead Space 2 currently heating up the console charts for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, it would have been easy for EA to simply toss a lackluster port to the iPhone and watch the cash roll in. However, Dead Space for iPhone bears more in common with the original Dead Space game than its sequel. Players take the role of Vandal, a poor misguided soul who finds himself duped by an extremist religious organization. After he sabotages a government base in deep space, Vandal discovers he’s been sacrificed for the “greater good” of the organization. It’s up to him to then clear his name and escape the terror he’s unwittingly released.
As with many of their recent iPhone releases, EA does a fantastic job of making the best of the iPhone platform. Rather than trying to replicate a physical controller via on-screen buttons, they’ve devised a clever way of controlling Vandal through swiping, tapping, motion controls, and more. At times, it can feel a bit clumsy as your thumb gets in the way of the action, but overall the control solutions found in Dead Space facilitate the gameplay nicely.
Where Dead Space really shines is in the presentation. At times on par with its console counterparts, EA has managed to successfully create a creepy horror experience on the tiny iPhone screen. There were actually moments when playing that I would actually jump when a Necromorph (the game’s deadly alien species) would pop out of the dark and bear down on me. That EA was able to translate this experience is a remarkable achievement.
Though everything looks and plays beautifully, some of the environments in Dead Space begin to look a bit “same-y” after a while. Traversing down corridor after identical corridor sometimes gives the game a confusing maze-like experience, leaving the player to wonder if he’s on the right path or going back from where he just came. Thankfully, there’s a handy compass feature to help out with the confusion, but a few more unique environments would have been appreciated.
Bottom Line: Dead Space for iPhone is an amazing sci-fi survival horror experience. Easily the best of its kind for the iPhone.
Dead Space is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.