Dead Space: Performance Analyzed


Dead Space was released at the end of last year, and while it got fairly positive reviews, it kind of slipped under our radar. I’m the type of gamer who enjoys a good first-person shooter (FPS) or role-playing game (RPG) with a decent story. Having said that, the original Alien vs. Predator is one of my favorite FPS games of all time. Even though I didn't dig into Dead Space right out of the gate, it’s one of those games that I have periodically wondered about, always reminding myself that I should devote some time to at least try it out.

When Nvidia released the latest GeForce beta drivers 185.68, it included a new feature: ambient occlusion. I was quite excited about this development, as ambient occlusion (AO)–when done right–can really add depth, realism, and ambience to a game’s lighting model. For me, the addition of AO is more of a tangible benefit than Nvidia's compute unified device architecture (CUDA), based on the types of applications that I run. Unfortunately, the AO feature has to be coded in the drivers specifically for each supported game.

I’ve wanted to test this feature, so I had to choose a game from the list, which you can find right here. There was Dead Space staring me right in the face. I probably wouldn't have come across a better excuse to check out the game.

This is a game-performance analysis, but I don’t want to waste people’s time testing the performance of poor game titles, so I took the opportunity to sink a few hours into Dead Space. And you know what? There’s a good survival horror title to be played here. Thick ambience, a fantastic audioscape, and great visuals contribute to the game. But for me, the really compelling thing about Dead Space is that it does a good job of storytelling and bringing the player into the Dead Space universe. The controls are a little lethargic, but it almost adds an appropriate claustrophobic feel to the game and its restrictive third-person perspective.

The game also features attractive visuals and runs very well at the high-quality settings. It helps that the art direction is good, borrowing a dark sci-fi gothic style reminiscent of the one used in the film "Event Horizon." Indeed, the main character's helmet looks similar to the forward section of the spaceship from the movie. So without turning this into a full-fledged game review, Dead Space is definitely good enough to play, and therefore worthy of a performance analysis.

Once again, we do our tests with different graphics cards, CPU clock speeds, and numbers of CPU cores. By the end of this article, we will have answered the question with authority: “What do I need to get the most out of Dead Space?"

  • anamaniac
    "Mushkin PC3-10700
    3x 2,048 MB, DDR3-1066, CL 8-8-8-19
    at 1.8 V"

    This is a mistake, right?
  • anamaniac
    Interesting article.

    Deadspace does seem like a decent game, but it was too much for me.
    Tried sitting down to play it a few times, but I just couldn't take it.

    And yeah, the game can play on some junk hardware.
    800x600 res, minimum settings.

    First time I saw one of those creatures, I just wasted ammo. WTF WAS THAT!?!?!
    Pentium D 2.8GHz, 1GB DDR2 533, Nvidia 7500LE 256MB.
    It played. Average framerate was bad, but the minimums were kinda bad, yet still possible.

    Nice to see what I may be able to crank it up to now with my 4670, though a couple gigs of ddr2 800 will be a nice bonus if I find the will to spend my rent money...
  • Andraxxus
    It can play fairly well even on a E6300@1.86Ghz with 1GB DDR2 667 and Nvidia 7600GT but I never finished it.
  • tacoslave
    im ashamed to say this but i jumped when one of those things came at me out of nowhere...
  • axilon
    One of the few games that sucked me in. I do NOT recommend playing it at 3am, the dreams I had....
  • microdots
    9600gt plays this game great
    awesome game regardless tho. everything is very well done, its easy to tell that the developers took great time in perfecting every portion in the levels and environment. as from what i remember it defiantly lived up to its hype. i still haven't beaten it either along with being super cool its also pretty difficult but totally worth the money; a true gaming experience.
  • Ciuy
    so in the end AO = bad. Unless u got to much fps .
  • Kill@dor
    I don't blame you for being scared to try this game out...its really something else ^_^ Very well made game in my opinion
  • rags_20
    I was thinking of trying it. Is it really that scary? I mean, if you turn down the volume, it shouldn't be as scary.
  • Roffey123
    It was the soundscape in the game that got me, I'm used to the monsters and such, but the ambience really got to me - so I never really got far. Perhaps I should summon the courage up for it again.