Electronic Arts Brings Survival Horror Franchise to iPad

Dead Space HDThere has always been a distinct difference between core console games and those found on web or mobile media. Nevertheless, the gap has been closing as developer IronMonkey Studios, along with Visceral Games and Electronic Arts have brought the survival horror genre, in true form, to iPad with Dead Space HD (as a side note, an iPhone version is also available). Though this iPad version can easily stand on its own, the release has also been strategically timed in tandem with the launch of the anticipated Dead Space 2.

Unlike most mobile games, Dead Space is definitely not a game that should be played by everyone. Though it comes from a long list of core EA franchises that have gone mobile – including Rock Band, Command & Conquer, FIFA, Need for Speed, and Madden – this survival horror game is one of the most violent and unnerving titles we have seen on any mobile device. And that’s how we like it. That said, the game controls do get in the way from time to time, and the issue is only enhanced by the anxious mood of the game. Moreover, while the title does have some quality jump scares and atmosphere, some of the tricks become moderately repetitive and predictable.

Don’t let the chosen platform fool you. Dead Space HD is by no means a casual game. Though it may not have the visuals of Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions, this is a title that brings the survival horror experience, effectively, to the iOS. That disclaimer aside, players control a masked engineer known only as “Vandal” who is on a mission for the church in order to strike against the current government by sabotaging an deep space mining facility.

NecromorphsThough Vandal takes on the look of Isaac from the original Dead Space, this new mobile version is a completely independent side story from the franchise, so no worries if you haven’t played the first game. Regardless, as it turns out, Vandal’s sabotage has caused some nightmarish creatures called “Necromorphs” to break free and begin running amok within the station. Whoops. After being abandoned by the church, it’s time for Vandal to make things right.

In the attempt to remedy their mistake, players are granted futuristic engineering weapons that are basically glorified nail guns, saws, and so on. All the same, they’re still pretty effective. Controls take the same route as SGN’s EXO-Planet Elite, in that players control movement with the left half of the iPad and shooting with the right. Sliding one’s thumb on the left will walk or run, depending on how much the finger moves, and tapping the right will ready an equipped weapon.

It works decently well, though there is no fluid way to lower the weapon aside from forcing Vandal to run or doing a quick 180 degree turn (double tapping the avatar). Most of the time it’s not a problem, but the sliding of one’s fingers just isn’t as effective as a controller, since turning a significant amount constantly requires the user to pick up their finger and slide again. Unfortunately, when a number of necromorphs begin appearing to chew your face off, the slow turning often leads to taking unwanted damage.

CutscenesOne of the other issues with the controls is that they can sometimes be unresponsive or will not play nice with the camera. The best example of the former is that shooting is done with a mere tap, yet sometimes it won’t register and will take multiple tries. Obviously, this becomes exceedingly frustrating when some hideous creature is bearing down on the player, and since they often startle users upon arrival, make the situation actually stressful; leading to a few, ahem, profanities.