7 Oct 2008

FYI, I am a Sci-Fi Horror game...

Dead Space is a real uncertainty to me. The awful title doesn't do it any favours, but then some of the game footage that I've seen does show real promise in terms of sci-fi, shit-your-trousers horror. The developers have clearly tried to implement a sense of immersion aboard the obligatory creepy space vessel that your character resides. In fact, it's so hideously terrifying that even the HUD has scarpered, leaving you with nothing but a few blinking lights, an array of special powers and weapons to aid your pursuit in rescuing your predictably lost love.

The one thing that does worry me about this game has something to do with what PC Gamer editor, Ross Atherton, wrote in the mag a few months back:

"Derek Chan, Global Project Manager of EA's Redwood Shores Studios, described it as EA's first survival horrer game. 'What about the System Shock series?' was our response. Derek hadn't played it, but instead saw BioShock as Dead Space's direct antecedent."

Now, this is important because the obvious question is how do you progress the genre or medium at all without learning from what has occurred previously? As Atherton later points out:

"You simply wouldn't believe that the director or producer of a new monster-horror film wouldn't have seen John Carpenter's The Thing, be aware of its style and know how to avoid blundering across its legacy. Even with its far longer history, creators in the film industry are expected to possess encyclopaedic knowledge of other films. Game makers aren't."

It's a decent point and one worth taking the time to pontificate on. Still, no such time exists when the developers have released such a ludicrous, self-titled 'Grindhouse' preview video. That's right, blood, screaming, death, beasties and a stupid, stupid voice.

1 comment:

Nick said...

What does a "Global Project Manager" do? He doesn't sound like a designer to me, more of a producer in the Hollywood sense of the word. Film directors often have a firm grounding in film (and cultural) history because they actually give a s*** (sometimes), whereas producers for the most part are there to count beans and make sure that the ventures are profitable.

It's easy to say that Derek Chan is a tool (particularly when you consider that he hasn't played System Shock 2 nor seen The Thing), but I suspect that his job doesn't require this. I could be wrong, I'd love to know what his role actually 'does' entail and how much direct influence he'd have over the design of the game itself. I imagine he came into that role through managerial experience rather than genuine gaming knowledge (creative folk often make crap project managers).

Doesn't 'survival horror' actually just mean 's*** control system augmented by a crap camera'? I'm pretty sure that those terms are interchangeable.

(As an aside I was playing Captive on the Amiga earlier. One thing that struck me was the use of cybernetic enhancements was very similar to System Shock though pre-dating the first game by four years. You can buy/find enhancements that you can fit to your droids, however they cost power over time, which needs to be replenished from sockets and can be stored in batteries to create stocks. Very interesting game btw.)