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?"

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  • Anonymous
    It looks to me like the CPU Clock Speed Scaling was done on the wrong graphics settings. Shouldn't this have been tested on a much lower resolution (say, 1024 x 768 low detail) to remove the graphics card as the bottleneck?
  • jennyh
    Nobody cared about dead space on release, why would anyone care now?
  • adders88
    fantastic game,so much fun doing surgery on those baddies!!!! bring on the sequel
  • waxdart
    I like the cartoon look of low detail :)
    Reminds me of the color pallet used in flashback on the Amiga. A game I'm sure that beat this hands down

    Mind you I did play the PS3 demo of dead space, it was awful! I hate fps controls on console anyway.
  • Anonymous
    great game, good tests, will give AO a try out
  • 2shea
    there is only a prequel game made for the wii :( no info about ds2 yet.
    The game is awesome in the exitement department but the controlls are something I could kill people for. Slow and in accurate aiming. It feels like I'm playing high on drugs in stead of full of adrenaline. That is a missed opportunity but can be traced back to the console part.
    For the rest it's a game that challenges you pretty good and is no pushover. The low detail should not even be mentioned, no body I kknow plays games at such a low detail and since only the 4670, that isnt really a gaming card, is struggling.
  • shrex
    you mean 4650, they never tested a 4670, the 4670 would be on par with the 9600gt
  • z999
    man this article is FLAWED! seriously, first thing that struck me was that you didn't test on 4870 1GB or 260GTX 216, even though it doesn't matter because you only test old games that use AO (is this whole thing an advertisement?).
    when you checked the CPU hit you did it on the highest settings which is wrong, very wrong, the core number test was passable because there are many people in this scenario (260 and a dual core).

    you really should step up the articles, maybe some more of the new DX10 features like you can see in HAWX.
  • jrtolson
    this is one of the best games i have ever played... i have it on ps3, reminds me of system shock 2 but better... this game is nothing like Flashback on the amiga, (great game i still own and finnished many times)

    This game did very well on release, a sequel is on its way, also a prequel is about to be released on wii.. and the Manga film Deadspace Downfall which i own on blu ray is also cool..

    if some of u guys not bought into the deadspace franchise then wot a pitty u are missing out.. play the game and you will see why. (the ps3 version is better imo, but which ever platform enjoy :-)