Dead Space: Downfall Chuck Patton

Dead Space: Downfall Chuck Patton
Electronic Arts’ new third-person action/survival/horror/RPG game promises to be a masterpiece of violence, having reportedly been banned in Japan, Germany and China for the over-the-top blood and gore even before its release. But the creative minds behind the game haven’t been satisfied with creating a blood-soaked videogame, releasing Dead Space comics (available in print or for download on Xbox360, PS3, and PC) to flesh out the back story, and producing Dead Space: Downfall, a feature length, straight-to-DVD animated movie to fill in the gaps between the comic and the game. One might expect an animated prequel for a videogame to be nothing more than a way to squeeze a few more dollars from gamers’ wallets but Dead Space: Downfall is an enjoyable stand-alone chapter in an ambitious multi-media project. Following the story of the doomed spaceship Ishimura, Downfall tells of a strange artefact retrieved from the surface of a distant outpost planet. Though the discovery of the artefact has caused the planet to be plagued by violent outbursts from usually upstanding members of the colony team, the Ishimura obeys her orders to transport the artefact home to Earth for study. Soon the Ishimura’s crew are warped by the sinister power of the artefact and nobody is safe from the creatures that begin roaming the star ship corridors in search of blood. Though Dead Space: Downfall , like other "trapped on a spaceship with terrifying creatures” stories, doesn’t have a particularly complex sci-horror premise, the little touches that flesh out the surrounding narrative make the film interesting and enjoyable. Sci-fi aficionados will appreciate the larger universe hinted at in the background, with epic space opera themes usually only explored in sci-fi literature, such as the works of Peter F. Hamilton or Iain M. Banks. Of course, Dead Space: Downfall doesn’t have the detailed storyline of a 700-page sci-fi novel but there is a definite sense that the creators of the Dead Space franchise have put a lot of effort in developing a large, consistent universe as a canvas for the various projects to tell their stories. The special features are sparse, with only a rough sketch deleted scene, a preview trailer for the game and the DVD you already have in your player, an art gallery, an isolated soundtrack that dispenses with the picture and allows you to listen to Downfall’s moody score, which you might not notice while watching the film but will appreciate on its own, and a special cheat code for the game (unfortunately it doesn’t say what the code does). Gamers who like the game will of course enjoyDownfall, and those who are still considering which of this winter’s blockbuster games to buy will be excited enough by what they see to move Dead Space up on their Christmas list. Non-gaming sci-fans will also find enough to enjoy on this DVD, as Downfall works as a stand-alone movie, though the desire to know more about the fate of the star ship Ishimura may lead non-gamers to investigate a console purchase. (Anchor Bay)