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.