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Dead Space Hands-on Preview: Resident Evil 4 in Space

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EA Redwood Shores' sci-fi survival horror effort Dead Space (PC, PS3, X360) can best be summarized as Resident Evil 4 in space, and no, that's not a bad thing.

Capcom's Resident Evil 4 represents some of the best that survival horror has to offer. Dead Space expands on that, adding in a delicious layer of sci-fi goodness.

One such example of that sci-fi application is the holographic projector in main character Isaac's visor. Instead of switching to a different screen, maps and videos are projected directly in front of Isaac. Item selection is likewise handled through the same projected interface.

As a result, the camera rarely moves from behind Isaac and the interface is surprising free of clutter. Health is indicated by a glowing light on Isaac's back, with another light showing how much special stasis power he has in check.

That stasis power, by the way, allows Isaac to blast enemies with a wave of energy that temporarily slows them down--an extremely useful technique when a baddie keeps tethering itself to the wall with tentacles.

The clutter-free approach towards the game's presentation keeps the player immersed in the world. Pulling up a map doesn't pause the action, nor does going into item selection. In fact, the only item that can be used without going into the menu is a health item.

Ammunition is surprisingly scarce, often forcing improvised solutions. After I ran out of ammo in the above boss battle, I was told that I could use telekinesis to chuck gas canisters at the tentacles.

Before that happened though, I was cut in half, with Isaac's lower body remaining stationary for a bit before finally slumping over.

Other cool bits? Some sections have no gravity, letting you jump from one side of the corridor to the other--handy when you're trying to dodge giant space tentacles. Plus the game lets you upgrade various abilities and weapons, providing a sense of progression as the enemies get tougher.

Dead Space is creepy, gory, and far, far from some mindless third-person shooter. My time with it today was brief but impressive, and I'm looking forward to more as the game's late October release approaches.

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