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Dead Space Ignition

EA wants to swim in your Dead Space money like Scrooge McDuck
Similar to the recent release of Capcomís Dead Rising 2 prequel, EA and Visceral Games decided to release a prequel to their upcoming survival horror game, Dead Space 2. The original Dead Space was a frightening romp into space that terrified millions of gamers and gained critical acclaim. It only stands to reason that Visceral would want to release a prequel that brought gamers a taste of the horror that awaits them in Dead Space 2. Unfortunately, that idea must have been scraped as Dead Space Ignition is only a collection of mini-games wrapped within a short narrative. The story is set before the events of Dead Space 2 and the inevitable onslaught of Necromorphs that awaits the crew of the Sprawl. The main character is Franco, an engineer. Heís traveling around with ship with his girl Sarah as the story kicks off in a choose your own adventure style of game.

Dead Space Ignition Franco and Sarah hacking shooting

The only time you see the main characters in action are the cutscenes. Those are squashed between each mini-game instance and there are only three mini-games to play though. System Override is a tower defense mini-game putting the player on the offense side of the table. Thereís little strategy to the game beyond specifically targeting one point on the grid. Trace Route is a Tron-like laser light game that makes you race to another point on the board. Itís incredibly easy to complete, but imprecise control issues like to pop up to screw up your game. Finally, Hardware Crack makes you bounce light around the grid to get to an opposite point on the board (similar to the tubes mini-game in Bioshock). Itís the only game that needs a little bit of brainpower to solve, but the solutions are really obvious.

These games are repeated multiple times during the game as you need to fix broken electronics or unlock doors. The entire game can be completed in about 60 to 80 minutes, less time if you master the mini-games immediately. You also have the option to play though the game again to choose different actions, but it doesnít lead to a different outcome at the end of the story. The story is poorly paced and lacks depth around the events leading up to Dead Space 2; absolutely unforgivable for a game billed as a prequel.

Dead Space Ignition Light Cycle mini-game

EA and Visceral are attempting to entice you to play the game by dangling an unlockable suit for Issac (when you boot up Dead Space 2) at the end of the stick. Thereís no information on the quality of the suit, but itís likely to help out a bit if itís anything like the suit in the first game. There are also online leaderboards to compete on, after you finish the game. They rank you on the performance of the various hacks. The mini-games are also unlocked to be played in multiplayer if you so choose, but itís unlikely that a friend would want to play any of these games.


  • Oh boyÖthe developer decided to forgo actual cutscenes to bring you still graphics that start ďmovingĒ when the camera pans over then. This creates an incredibly jerky, amateur hour style of visuals that looks absolutely terrible. Sometimes the developer moves a portion of the graphic to pretend its animated and that even looks worse. Itís amazing that someone put a stamp of approval on these cutscenes. The actual visuals during the mini-games are better by comparison, but lack in general activity. If this is a foretelling of the visual style of Dead Space 2, I would be scared to preorder it.


  • The shining point of this dismal release is the audio work, namely the voiceovers and sound effects. You can tell the developer probably used the same actors that will populate Dead Space 2 and the actors pulled off the contrived script with much aplomb. The sound effects and light musical work are creepy, thus matching the Dead Space feel.


Who in the world thought this would be a good idea, especially when they have to be stacked up against the incredible prequel to Dead Rising 2 that happens to be the same price? A game based solely on introducing the hacking mini-games was a terrible idea. Add in the terrible narrative, atrocious graphics and complete lack of replay value to get one of the worst prequels Iíve ever played. Even if you love the Dead Space saga, you have to skip this one. Itís definitely not worth $5 and itís questionable if itís worth the time it takes to download the 1.5GB game (if you got the game for free with a Dead Space 2 preorder). Playing this prequel will only make you want to cancel your Dead Space 2 preorder and shatter your old Dead Space disc into a million pieces.

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