Dead Space (PC): good lovin' gone bad

Don’t get me wrong; the concept in general is solid, the art direction is superb, the sound is great…but the camera and controls, at least in the PC version, suck.

This game suffers from Tomb Raider Syndrome (TRS), which means that whenever the player is in a confined space, the third-person camera doesn’t know what to do, so tiny shifts from left to right by the mouse means a HUGE shift in perspective from the camera, and if you’re trying to use something or pick up something or AIM at something in close quarters, you’re fucked. Mouse sensitivity in general seems to be pretty screwed up; I’ve tried several variations via the options menu, and it always seems to be either (a) way too sensitive or (b) so slow that it makes the game unplayable. There’s just no happy medium, at least not that I’ve found.

My friend (who has the game on XBOX 360) was telling me how great it was that there was no HUD, no meters on the screen for health or power, it was all on the suit. OK, wonderful, except for the fact that the game is played in third-person perspective and therefore the immersive quality that one would hope for in a spooky, atmospheric shooter is lost. Not only do I feel detached by the third person perspective, I am distracted by the shitty camera. Now, I know that Resident Evil 4 had the same kind of camera scheme and was wildly popular; I guess that might have influenced the decision to make Dead Space a third person shooter as well. Sorry, there is nothing as immersive as first person perspective, and when you’re going for spooky and atmospheric, you WANT immersion. Oh, no, there’s a simple health meter and a power meter on the HUD? You’re in a goddamn power suit of some kind, for god’s sake! There’s SUPPOSED to be a HUD! You know, if dealing with that gets me more immersion in the game, if it means that when something is attacking me I don’t have to flail around while the camera tries to decide on an angle that shows off my suit, if it means I can actually AIM my weapon meaningfully, I’ll take it. Half-Life got it right. Hell, Daggerfall was more immersive than this, even with relatively primative graphics.

In conclusion: third-person perspective shooters SUCK. They take me COMPLETELY out of the experience and the game camera almost always is more of a distraction than a help.

All that being said, I have only played about 15 minutes or so of the game so far. Maybe I’ll adjust and the storyline will be so gripping that I’ll overlook the controls and camera. We shall see.

I hate 3rd person perspectives in anything but racing games. I watched a game-play trailer of Dead Space yesterday and could see some of the camera problems you mention, and this was in the company produced trailer!

Still look on the bright side. Only 1 week until Fallout 3.

And that’s getting some good reviews.

Maybe someone will release a first-person hack, if that’s possible.

I don’t like third-person games either, not even racing games. I like the hood view or bumper view.

I’ve been liking the trend towards 3rd person shooters, personally. Granted, camera control can sometimes be an issue, but I think its quite nice actually being able to see where the dude actually is in the world. Especially if the game has cover mechanics like GoW.

I also am a big fan of Dark Spaces HUD.

Actually, I found a pretty decent workaround for the PC controls:

  1. Crank resolution up past the default 800x600
  2. Disable V Sync
  3. Set mouse sensitivity to max

The mouse will be jittery a bit on menu screens but the game is much more enjoyable with these tweaks. Although I still wish I had a 1st Person option, I would say that this is still an excellent game; no crashes or bugs, decent difficulty level, etc. But it’s clearly meant for a console.

Without throwing anyone out the airlock ;), I’ll respectfully disagree with the OP:

  1. The game would definitely not be better in first person. It’s not Doom 3 and not trying to be; it seems to be taking its cues from Resident Evil 4. There are many events, environments, and enemy types that wouldn’t even work if the game were playable in FPS-mode. If anything, having the character I’m controlling on screen all the time puts me more into the game, worried about that avatar, than having all I see be a gun and some menu items. That said, it’s sad to hear the WASD controls suck - maybe it’s worth hooking up a two-stick controller and trying it the way the console cousin plays.

  2. Do you really think it would make sense for a “goddamn power suit” HUD to be visible if it were stuck around the edge of the game window, Doom-style? Yeah, even without mouse controls I’ve noticed the health bar gets hard to read mid-flailing-shooting-spree, but if I’m that swamped with enemies I’m usually actually concentrating on the enemies more than getting a clear reading on my health right then.

  3. Hi Fallout!

Really, there are enough FPS games with horror/zombie themes already - I’m glad EA tried something new and pulled it off in such a unique way.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but didn’t you know it was a third-person shooter before you got it?

Yes, but two of my friends (both playing on consoles) recommended the game so highly that I thought “maybe it won’t be so bad after all.” Admittedly, it was an unqualified blanket statement condemning all third-person shooters. Also, since games like Thief:Deadly Shadows has an option to switch between third- and first-person perspective, I hoped that perhaps this would be an option. In any case, as I said there is much to like about the game apart from the camera and controls; art direction and sound is great, I like the variety of challenges from time to time, etc.

We’ll have to agree to disagree, then. I understand what you’re saying about certain situations and enemies in the game not working well in first-person mode. Perhaps in some cases the perspective shifts when it makes sense to do so, as in Metroid Prime.

However, if you were really experiencing things as Isaac, you would be looking out at the world through the eye slits in the suit, and you would have to be able to monitor health and air and so forth from that perspective. Seriously, what good are health, air, and stasis charge indicators on the BACK of a suit? So someone following behind you can tap you on the shoulder and tell you how your levels are? It looks cool on screen but makes zero sense. Actually, if I were to design a RIG (using my imaginary engineering skills), I would use auditory indicators in addition to or in place of any visual indicators. A repeating tone of some sort, maybe, that increases tempo as health is diminished or something along those lines.

As far as immersion goes, I still hold the opinion that nothing beats the first-person perspective. Like I said, we probably have to agree to disagree on this.

Generally speaking, though, I’ve adjusted to the camera and controls, thanks to the workaround I mentioned previously. The biggest problems come when I have my back to a wall and get hit with a grapple attack and multiple enemies; the “E” indicator prompting the player to hit that button to escape the grapple often is not in view, so I end up trying to turn and fire when I should be hitting “E”.

Ooh, that does sound frustrating. At least on the console version, the “tap-to-not-die” indicator is colored to match the corresponding key, but they must not’ve thought to improve the visibility at all when the key’s not colored. Sucks.

Not hoping to threadjack, here, but your note about switching from first- to third-person made me remember the upcoming game for 007: Quantum of Solace, which will be switching between FPS mode for shooting to TPS(?) mode for taking cover and doing stealth/climbing parts. Hopefully it’ll work smoothly enough to be inspiration for games to break the usual boundaries for each viewpoint. :slight_smile:


Why don’t more games give the option of 1st person or 3rd person?

Personally I love the perspective. I’ve only noticed one or two times where the camera really has an issue (on the xbox360 version) and has become an annoyance. Overall I find it to be a very immersive game and am loving every minute of it. I just finished Chapter 6 and am maybe 5 or 6 hours into the game. So far it’s easily a contender for game of the year, IMO, though ammo takes up way the hell too much inventory space if you ask me. That said, I love the lack of a HUD, I love the display on the back of the guy (which actually makes no sense, I’ll give you that, but from a player perspective it’s great) and all the holographic menus, and i absolutely love the overall lighting and atmosphere of the game.

Ill second all of this.