Well the weekend is half over and I'm running a little behind on getting a blog posted tonight after a few humorous rounds of some ridiculously laggy Little Big Planet (you had to be there), but we're not here to talk about that...I wanted to take a minute to talk about Dead Space 3, or more specifically, the fact lots of people are critical of the game because of the claim it forgoes its proven mechanic of being a survival horror game and is now more akin to an action game.

So, I've played both Dead Space games, start to finish; I have gone on record saying they are some of the best games ever made in terms of design, story, audio & video, and game play. They are fantastic games...and yes, they are scary games. I've jumped more playing these games then I care to admit.

I picked Dead Space 3 up a few days ago and have slowly been trudging through the single player campaign. And at the same time I've been playing it, I've come across a number of user reviews (there have been plenty) at Game Informer covering it. I also listened to one of the Game Informer podcasts recently talking about the game and its fear factor.

One common, reoccurring theme with some of the harshest critics of the game is...

Dead Space 3 isn't scary anymore.

Either I'm playing a different game then, or I'm just a 'fraidy cat. Because I can only play this game in small doses before I'm ready for a break. It can be very unsettling. Heck, I jumped within the first few minutes of game play...and many more times since then. Part of the reason I think it's always so scary for me is I play later in the night...alone...in low level lighting...and sometimes with headphones, but always with the audio cranked up.

Why is Dead Space 3 so scary?

I've narrowed it down to a few simple principles the game has integrated really well resulting in it having a scary atmosphere. At least I think so.

1. Audio Effects - If you play any game with headphones you've probably noticed all sorts of ambient sounds you've never noticed before. Well, in Dead Space 3, those ambient sounds are unnerving. I don't know what those sounds are; I don't want to know what is making them or why it is making them...and I don't want to know either. What I do know is it's enough to scare the beejeezus out of me. Now, in some games I like to turn the music affects down and just hear the actual in-game audio affects - I don't know if you can do this in Dead Space, but frankly I wouldn't even if I could, because I find a very small bit of solace in the music. If all I heard was the skittering of who knows what across the deck of the ship or through the rubble of the alley, I might just lose it and start shooting at anything. Never have I played a game with such compelling and convincing audio effects than the Dead Space games. I applaud their music producers on a job well done.

2. Random Crap Jumping Out At You - I'm a sucker for this. I know it's going to happen, and even though I half way expect it, every time it happens I jump so bad I fumble the controller and my heart nearly jumps out of my chest. It's weird, because I can watch scary movies (without covering my  eyes) and it never really bothers me - but put me in a game with some tense sequences like doors and/or elevators opening and random bad guy crap jumping out at you and I turn into the biggest baby you ever did see. Perhaps it's because I'm so focused on the action since I am in charge of the player or maybe it really is because I'm expecting it, so when it does happen the reaction is amplified. Regardless of why it happens, when it does happen I usually laugh at myself afterwards...once my heart beat returns to normal of course.

3. Random Crap Running Towards You - This is the one that baffles me the most. I see it happening on the screen. I know it's coming...yet, it gets me every time. You see a bad guy, and he is moseying around like he's not going to mess with you. So, you're taking careful aim at his limbs (because that's how you kill most of the bad guys in Dead Space)...and as soon as you get ready to take the shot, the dang thing turns and runs at you at full speed. Instead of that nice, well aimed and controlled shot, you end up firing in a panic, emptying your weapon, trying to reload to finish it off while running around trying to evade it's razor sharp whatever those things that were once arms are. I dunno what they are, I just know if you get hit by them the results aren't pretty. You know a game is good at being scary when you can see the thing that is about to scare you, and it still manages to scare you.

4. Danger In Numbers - Maybe you've heard of the "buddy system" and how there is "safety in numbers". Hah, well it might be true, but it also has the opposite affect when the enemy employs this tactic. Dead Space 3 has this tendency to swarm you with bad guys...and each of those bad guys alone can tear you to shreds, so when you're faced with three or four or more...your chances of getting torn to shreds increases exponentially. I'll admit it...one of my best tactics in Dead Space 3 is...RUN! I certainly think Dead Space 3 does a great job with scaring you by throwing large quantities of nasties at you. I know it scares me.

5. Last, But Not Least - the violence. I don't really consider myself a squeamish person. My mom has been a paramedic for as long as I can remember and so I've heard all sorts of gory stories. I deployed to Iraq and even though I didn't see any combat first hand, I certainly saw the effects of it. And even though I don't consider myself a squeamish person, sometimes the violence in Dead Space 3 scares me. Not the shivering dread of opening a hatch and a body falling out kind of fear, but just the shock and awe of such brutality...it can kind of get to you. I think I've witnessed more people shot in the head in those games, and it always kind of grieves me because it's usually part of the story.

Well, it's late...it's dark downstairs...and there is more Dead Space 3 left to play...or I could wait until it's day late and go play Team  Fortress 2 instead. Yeah, that sounds like a much better plan. Dead Space 3 is indeed a scary game.

Hope you all have a great weekend.