Monday, April 13, 2015

Dead Space: Chronicle of the Red Marker. Chapter 2

Welcome back to Chapter 2 of our short series titled "Chronicle of the Red Marker," a review, analysis and commentary about the stories leading up to and between Dead Space 1 and 2.  This is a continuation post from the article that I put up on Friday which looked at the first Dead Space self titled comic, the first animated movie, Downfall and the Wii/PS3 exclusive rail shooter, Extraction.  Today we will be looking at the stories that continue the story after the evacuation of Aegis VII and the fall of the USG Ishimura.

Dead Space: Salvage is the second comic adaptation in the Dead Space universe and in my opinion, a better read and more visually appealing than the first comic.  Although no specific date is given for the events that happen, we are told that this takes place sometime between the events in Downfall and the following film, Aftermath.

Storywise, Salvage was a much simpler story than that of the first comic.  Salvage follows a group of mercenary and freelance miners who happen to stumble upon the remains of the USG Ishimura.  There is some inner conflict as one might expect to find on board this type of vessel.  The crew boards the Ishimura, not knowing about any of the events that transpired and that is when shit hits the fan.  That is basically the entire story.  Not much meat here as far as overarching story, but the there is quite a bit of Dead Space lore that expands the feeling of the universe which I am always a fan of.  There are hints at the government underbelly; how ships travel to/from star systems at, potentially, FTL speeds; although very little, if any new information in the way of how the remnants of The Marker interact with humans and tissue.  Yeah, there are necromorphs in case you were wondering.

The art style in Salvage is one of the major points of interest here.  I am going to guess that the style is called photorealism, and is then mixed with a lot of blurry watercolor.  I would imagine that some people would find the drab color palette, consisting of mainly blues, greens and greys (with occasional splashes of red for good measure), but considering the universe that this story is taking place, it works much better than brightly lit corridors and sun soaked cargo bays.  Salvage also diverges a bit from the usual blocked formatting of comics using a mix of pages that are told in wide horizontal blocks as opposed to the typical smaller rectangles.

Honestly, I prefered this artistic style to that of the first comic.  I found it easier to follow with the characters, which I genuinely credit to the art style used by artist Christopher Shy.

The second animated movie, Dead Space: Aftermath is probably the oddest of the whole collection.  The story told in Aftermath does a decent job in connecting the events from the first game as well the four previous mentioned stories to Dead Space 2 and the stories associated with that game.  It could even be speculated that the whole reason the team depicted here is dispatched to Aegis VII is from someone within Unitology and Earth Gov. wants a shard of The Marker found and brought back.

The story follows a CEC (Concordance Extraction Corporation) team is sent to Aegis VII to check on their mining investment.  This is after the chunk of the planet that was extracted earlier in the timeline has crashed into the planet and after some farfetched tactics to keep the planet temporarily together (although it makes sense in the context of the movie).  While investigating, one of the crew members finds a shard of the Red Marker and is drawn to pick it up and hilarity (as in horrendous death fueled necromorphic nightmares ) ensues.  When the CEC crew does not make contact with their parent company, a security detail is sent after them where they are taken back to Titan Station, the location of Dead Space 2.

What makes this movie so strange is that all of the events happening in the present are told in a bizarre late 1990s style of computer animation.  They move about as fluid as the characters from the Warcraft II intro movie, but significantly less dramatic.

Now, I feel that if the entire movie were told with this type of animation, you would eventually get used to how wrong everybody moves, but there are four other animation styles that go along with each of the four above characters story about what happened to them on Aegis VII. 

The rest of the movie, the backstories, all use more traditional cell-style animation.  Some of the sequences look very nice, while others, the characters are very stylized and intentionally misproportioned, and I am not just talking about the necromorphs.  It could have been that each different animation team was given concept drawings for the overall look of the film and the universe in the Dead Space series and they took their particular story from there.

Even the design of the RIGs used by the same characters in different backstories are drawn differently.  I realize that this was a stylistic choice on the part of someone in charge, but by the time I felt that I was getting used to a particular style of animation, that story would end and we would go back to the interrogation chamber and the jarring/stilted CG.

Following Aftermath, I should be covering the mobile game simply titled Dead Space, but I had so much fun with that game that it will be receiving its own entry following todays article on Friday.

Dead Space: Ignition follows Titan Station engineer Franco, who may or may not be a Unitologist and which is not-so bluntly stated during the story.  Although the Red Marker does not make an appearance in Ignition, based on the events in Aftermath, you could say that the events happened as a direct result of the Red Marker, which fits in quite well with how Brian Evenson depicted how the various Markers react to Humankind.

I feel a bit like a hypocrite, but Ignition looked (since I was only able to watch a longplay of the game) more like a choose your own adventure comic book with interactive puzzle elements than an actual video game.  The art looked similar to the art style in the first Dead Space Comic and the two animated films, although the in-game animation was straight-up comic book style where dialogue was spoken but the mouths did not move nor did feet/legs move when characters walked.  The game lasted just over an hour and easily half of that time was spent doing puzzles that, in the later stages seemed to go on a lot longer than necessary.  Perhaps it was just to pad the game out.

In the end, I am not sad that I was unable to play Ignition and I probably would have been upset if I had found it and paid more than a couple of dollars for either my phone or PSP.  The story though is what is always important and for that fact alone, I am glad that I only had to waste an hour of my time.

On Friday, I will be putting up my review of Dead Space (Mobile), so stay tuned if you're not yet Dead Space'd out.  Now that was a fun game.

Rushing Through The Emptiness

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