Review

Dead Space Ignition Review (Xbox360)

Pre-release downloadable content recently came to the fore with Dead Rising 2: Case Zero a bite-sized segment of the main game that allowed you to carry over progress once it was released. Where Case Zero demonstrated all of the advantages and benefits of such an experience, Ignition fails to deliver the same spark, spluttering to a halt with awful characters and three dull mini-games.
 

Touching this exposed wiring isn't a bad idea at all...
Set on the space station Sprawl, the setting for Dead Space 2, Ignition tells the story of engineer Franco DeLille and his security companion Sarah Anderson. From the very beginning the dialogue will make you want to vomit and kick the console off. An excruciatingly bad joke kicks this descent into mediocrity off and makes Sarah's personality more irritating than feisty. Franco doesn't do much better and manages to strike a unique balance of gormless and mentally vacant for the duration of the game.

Thanks to this characterisation, the awkward writing and the delivery of their lines I never gave a toss about what happened to these two, making the supposed tension of the storyline non-existent.

The narrative unfolds in partially animated comic book cut-scenes that neither looks particularly great nor provides any compelling content. You're ostensibly on the run throughout the 90-minute running time once the outbreak of necromorphs begins and the actual gameplay involves three minigames, each initiated once you stumble upon a locked door or computer terminal.

These games are all basic, quite tedious and mostly irritating. Trace route involves guiding a red dot through a scrolling obstacle course and being the first to the finish line before the systems countermeasures. This is the most visually interesting of the minigames with a Matrix-style vibe and more than a nod to Tron's light cycles.

That's about as good as it gets however as the course itself comes at you too quickly and you end floundering around, hitting obstacles you realistically had no chance of avoiding. It's not too hard to win all of these levels despite this design and the power-ups, which enable you to slow down, boost or place barriers for the countermeasures, add a bit of variety and interest.
 
Looks a little bit like tower-defence or something
If Trace Route is the best of the three then System Override is the worst. Taking place on a hexagonal board, the aim is to get your viruses to the opposite side, getting past the various countermeasures in your way.

Sounds simple right? Well it should be but the game does such a poor job in telling you what to do that I ended up just spamming the various attacks until I got my viruses through. I think there's meant to be some strategy to the different attacks here, but as your energy bar always replenished quickly you can simply bash buttons until you win. Hardly compelling for a puzzle game.

The last minigame is Hardware Crack, which involves reflecting different coloured lights into their receivers. It can get quite complex in the later levels, especially when you have to combine different colours to produce new ones and take into account rotating mirrors. I quite liked these puzzles but unless you wrap your head around the logic you're not going to get very far.

Completing each hack will progress the story and sometimes you'll have to work through two or three instances of different minigames in order to get past some story moments. At certain points in the plot you'll be offered a choice of directions that alters the story ever so slightly. There are four different endings but there's nothing gripping or interesting going on other than to get a rough idea of what Sprawl may look like in Dead Space 2.

The less said about that plot the better. Given the amount of lore and backstory to the whole Dead Space franchise the opportunity the expand that canon has been criminally wasted. Aside from a vaguely cool ending, all other aspects of the overall universe aren't touched upon considering that the minigames are so weak there's very little point to playing this game.
 
What? Is she winking? Does she have a lazy eye?

If you're really a fan of the fiction then spending an hour on YouTube is a far better use of your time than any minute of Dead Space Ignition. When both the story and the gameplay are as weak as this then you're better leaving this on the virtual shelf and picking up Dead Space Extraction instead.

Top Game Moment: Deleting the game from my hard drive.

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