So, I wasn't planning on reviewing Dead Space, since it's... not really very interesting. It's basically System Shock II minus Shodan, psychic powers, and hacking. IE, a random repairman against The Many.
I was just gonna let it slide peacefully into oblivion but, but...
Then I met the Asteroid Shooting Minigame. A mandatory minigame where they put you in a seat and make you play Tie Fighter. Not the later ones. The original one. On the Apple II. The one that isn't even listed in Wikipedia, presumably because it was someone's basement hack.
I always hated that game, and I have not improved any with experience. So I've tried to beat this dumb, infuriating, pointless thing several times. Each time I think to myself, "IF I WANTED TO PLAY TIE FIGHTER, I'D TIME TRAVEL BACK TO 1988! SHUT UP AND BE A SHOOTER!"
But every time I die. And every time, I get a little further. Oh, good, maybe I'll eventually beat it!
Except your captain-type-dude is sitting in your ear the whole time. "Almost got it! Just a little more!" "You said that five minutes ago, dipshit, what's the point of lying to me? Just to fool me into thinking maybe I'll win this time, maybe I'll hold out long enough on this idiotic, sub-par minigame designed by brain-damaged, idiot monkey-men and implemented by sadistic, gibbering idiots and playtested, evidently, by savants with astonishingly good control over the MOST IRRITATING MOTIONS ON THE CONTROLLER? We'll call them idiot savants, just to keep with the theme."
Yeah, I'm really enjoying it.
So the game went from being "decent" to being "totally shitty" in one fell swoop.
Reading the walkthroughs, I find that not only does nobody have any useful suggestions aside from "not sucking", but there's ANOTHER ONE OF THEM LATER ON.
See, this kind of shit is just bad game design. The idea here is that they mix it up a bit, you know? Give you a break from the regular gameplay. Maybe the game needs it: the regular gameplay consists almost entirely of walking around slowly, then freezing and dismembering zombies. It's not exactly rapid-fire. The minigame certainly is.
But you know what? Mandatory minigames are a sign that your game design is fundamentally flawed. Doesn't matter what they are - quicktime sequences, turret fighting sequences, PRESS A REALLY QUICK sequences... they're all a sign of shitty basic play being desperately propped up by other shitty play.
You can put minigames in, sure. System Shock II, which Dead Space obviously wanted to be, had a hacking minigame. I'm sure it irritated some people. But you know what?
IT WAS OPTIONAL.
Man, I go on and on about weird, advanced little theories about game design, but then I go play a so-called triple-A game and I find they need BASIC DESIGN LESSONS.
I can't imagine the designers were really this bad. All I can think of is that they had a boss breathing down their neck and two days to do something. Because it's really bad. Ugh.
The funny thing is that every other review on the planet seems to have loved the game. Not only did they not even notice this minigame, they thought the game itself was better than I think it is. This is probably the most negative review written about the game, but even before I got into this dumbass minigame, I didn't consider the game to be so great.
Maybe I'm spoiled by the fact that I'm kind of a scifi-survival-horror specialist. All these people comparing Resident Evil to Dead Space. Nooo, you did NOT. No wonder you think it's good. Maybe you should play System Shock II again. Or, hell, Shadowgrounds is scarier than this is.
This artificially crippling the camera crap? It doesn't make the game scarier to me. At all. More responsive - even eagle-eye - cameras work just fine because in survival horror, a big part of sustaining the scare is in maneuvering. And there isn't any in RE4 OR in Dead Space.
It's just someone walking around shooting zombies.
And, you know, playing painfully retarded minigames.