Switcheroo (06)

I tweeted about Dead Space 2’s final boss in frustration last night, calling it ‘bullshit’.

Let me elaborate. Mechanic, not story spoilers follow.

The Dead Space series pushes survival horror in an interesting direction. Whereas the traditional survival horror game only uses combat sparingly as a means for an outgunned character to ward off foes, Dead Space increases the emphasis on combat. Precise “dismemberment” shots are required to succeed. But Dead Space doesn’t veer into Gears of War action territory as the limited ammo and health makes the risk-reward calculus of just how to fight always present. The tactical depth of the game factors weapon type, enemy type, environment, stasis and alternate fires along with health and ammo to create very satisfying combat gameplay in an otherwise tense and focused experience.

The final boss battle contains the following:

– Insta-kills (with long, unskippable gore cinematic).

– Enemies that break established rules on vision and location.

– Constant need to run and gun rather than tactically using cover.

– No use of the dismemberment mechanic.

– No use of “blowout” or “zero-G” techniques.

– No tactical use of weaponry (unless you were prescient enough to bring one particular gun).

I’m not entirely sure if I should comment that the level of difficulty drastically increased, because it is hard to tell. The previous twelve or thirteen hours was an entirely different game with consistent mechanics, so is it fair to say the final boss spikes the difficulty drastically?

It’s not necessarily bad for a boss to change up the mechanics. Many games have done this successfully. I’m thinking of Metal Gear Solid for one. But if you are going to try this, it probably should still be mechanically congruent to the rest of the game. As it is, this final boss fight sours the whole experience which was up to that point quite excellent, if a little (a lot) hackneyed in setting. I won’t attempt to pass it again. Whatever happens to Clarke, et al, happens. I won’t be there to see it.

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