The original Dead Space was an uncharacteristic risk for EA to take, but it paid dividends. The IP is now a successful, multi-million dollar franchise. Dead Space’s fresh take on survival horror led to many awards as well as a prequel and apparently a movie is in the works. With the hotly anticipated Dead Space 2 launching early in 2011, EA has teamed up with Visceral Games and Sumo Digital to deliver Ignition as a holdover in the meantime.
What’s It About?
Dead Space Ignition fleshes out some of the events that lead up to the start of Dead Space 2. You play as a character named Franco Delille. Delille is an engineer that works on the Sprawl—a gigantic space station that will be the setting for Dead Space 2. As an engineer, Franco’s job is to fix misbehaving, or mostly in the case of Ignition; sabotaged, electronics around the Sprawl.
The story is delivered in a comic-book fashion and follows Delille as he uses his skills to save himself and others during the initial Necromorph outbreak on the Sprawl. While the story is delivered solely through non-interactive cut-scenes, the player must play some “hacking” minigames to advance the story when Franco needs to use his skills. There are three minigames: Hardware Crack, Trace Route, and Override.
Why Should I Care?
Once you get used to the story delivery, it’s actually kind of cool and unique. There are only about three main characters and each has a distinct and layered personality, which is a huge accomplishment seeing as the game can be beaten in about thirty minutes.
The hacking minigames are a nuisance at best. The concepts are pretty cool, but somewhere in the translation from paper to silicon something went just slightly awry. Sparing you exhaustive explanations, suffice it to say that Override and Hardware Crack have an illusion of strategy to them but almost random play can often generate a successful outcome.
I’ve never been a fan of games that make the controls part of the challenge, and Trace Route is largely just that. Trace Route is basically a race between your laser and some AI countermeasure lasers to get to a system core. The worst part is that the controls feel sluggish and while you may know exactly where you want to go, getting your laser to go there without crashing into walls is difficult.
Trace Route is akin to that game you find at amusement park arcades where you must move the magnet around a metal pipe up until you reach the end. It’s frustrating and designed to steal boatloads of quarters until you get a meager prize. Luckily, Ignition will steal far less quarters before the prize(s), which I’ll address shortly.
Overall, you should care about this game because it’s Dead Space, and adds to the canon of how Isaac Clarke came to be on the Sprawl for Dead Space 2. Then again, you could always find the info online, but that’s never as fun is it?
Why Is It Worth My Time And Money?
Like I said earlier, the minigames will steal less quarters before awarding prizes than the amusement park arcade. Each of the four possible endings in Ignition will award you some unlocked content for Dead Space 2. While Ignition never actually tells you what you’ve won, rumors have it that one of the prizes is a new suit for Isaac. Seeing as Ignition only costs about 5 dollars, it’s a small price to pay for having exclusive content to brag about to players who don’t buy the game.
On top of that, the minigames aren’t all doom and gloom. After you play through them a few times to get the hang of them, you can play on the Leaderboards where your best times are submitted so that you can compare yourself to the best times of other players. Since each minigame is less than a minute long if you don’t blow it, there’s time enough to keep going back and attempting to up your ranking. This minigame experience outside of the story is actually enjoyable since you’re not just trying to get through it so you can see the next cutscene, however it struck me as odd that your times from the campaign don't automatically roll over to the Leaderboards.
There’s also a multiplayer mode. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly tacked on as the devs built some unique levels just for this mode, but the multiplayer is hotseat only, so if you were looking to play against someone, you need to grab your roommate or sibling and sit them down next to you.
Essentially, you’re paying five bucks for some story and unlockable content when you purchase Ignition. Whether that’s a good deal to you or not is your decision, but for the majority of our readership demographic, it’s probably worth it, hence the Buy It recommendation despite the low score.