Sunday, 20 February 2011

REVIEW: Dead Space Aftermath

With my review of Dead Space 2 forthcoming, I thought I'd review the accompanying feature-length animation that serves as a bridge between the first and second game - Aftermath.

I enjoyed the first Dead Space animated movie Dead Space: Downfall about the events of what happened to Ishimura before Isaac landed on the ship and the Dead Space game took over. As a film in it's own right, it was average but I felt was a decent set up for the game. However, with Aftermath, a lot of (idiot) reviewers have said it doesn't follow the plot of Downfall. Of course it hasn't, there was an epic nine hour game in-between the two films.

So if you understand this, then Dead Space: Aftermath should make sense. It's literally the aftermath of the first game and setting up what will happen in Dead Space 2, mainly the character of Strauss who appears in the game.

Even if you're not aware of what's going on, the set-up is quite simple. Four survivors on another ship are taken into custody and through a series of flashbacks we see what happened. The story is simple enough, but then it's so bland and for anyone who has seen any Dead Space material - it's the same old thing. Monsters appear on the ship, they wreak havoc, you have to survive. Behind it all is this mysterious organisation interrogating our poor survivors to question how much contact they had with the 'marker' - the religious artefact that has started this whole mess.

Visceral have asked four different animation companies to come up with the different flashbacks - however, the 'present' narrative is animated by some awful CGI that looks completely outdated and unfinished. I can only maintain the fact it looks so terrible is that they weren't ready for Dead Space 2 release date and the company said 'tough - give 'em what you got'. It's a shame because it's the anchor holding the whole thing together and is very important, but it lets down the rest of the film which, visually at least, I enjoyed. Visceral did the same thing with an animated film of Dante's Inferno, which I was fortunate enough to complete before watching it because it's basically the entire plot of the game in 90 minutes, but even then characters looked completely different, there was no real continuity but I enjoyed this. I liked the way each studio put their stamp on it and you'd have to be a retard not to be able to distinguish who is who. However, this doesn't work as well in Aftermath as the characters aren't as freaky looking and so Strauss for instance was so plain at times, it was hard for me to keep track of who he was.

So the animation has it's highs and lows, the voice acting is not so bad (the black guy from Stargate SG1, the latino guy from Desperate Housewives etc.) but not amazing either. It is however the horrible plot that really lets it down. I like the way it starts at the end and we put pieces together like a jigsaw but for a horror animation it was quite boring. For one thing, I've seen it all before and Downfall did it a lot better. It's also not much of a bridge between the two films except for filling us in on why Isaac is back in this whole mess in the first place.

If you love Dead Space, I'd say give it a watch and try and put the CG to the back of your mind, but really this is a failed attempt to try something quite cool. It's good to have a go, but it needs to be done right and this felt more like an extra that should have been given away with the game rather than being bought in it's own right. If you want to see something like this, I'd watch Downfall instead and if you haven't played Dead Space in the first place, then I don't know why you're reading this. You can get it for £5 - £10 these days brand new and it's one of the most original, exciting games I've played.

Now time to get back to Dead Space 2.

Rating: 4/10

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