Unfortunately, there's nothing redeeming about the downloadable title's execution. Ignition is intended to build excitement for the January release of Dead Space 2, but it only managed to temper our expectations.
The idea of releasing downloadable teasers for big retail releases is a good one. We're Dead Space fans and we can't wait until the sequel's release in January. As such, Ignition sounds like a nice way to whet the appetite. A short, story-focused prequel providing some optional back-story to Dead Space 2's plot. Ignition could (and should) have been a nice little slice of fan-service — sadly it's a mess.
The first thing that's striking about Ignition is its laughably bad artwork and animation. We're not sure how the Dead Space franchise got mixed up with poor quality anime, but the tepid reviews for Downfall should have given Visceral reason to reconsider the direction. The animated comic book panels give the package a really cheap look. Unfortunately, they make up the biggest component of Ignition's content.
Set on the Sprawl — the space station which Dead Space 2 takes place on — Ignition tells the story of Franco the engineer and his gun-toting cop girlfriend. The game's got a "choose your own adventure" vibe. Periodically throughout the story a menu box will pop-up asking what you want to do. Again, the concept's cool, but the binary presentation of the options make it less than fulfilling.
But the disappointment of these choices is nothing when compared to Ignition's "gameplay" sequences. Spread across three different hacking mini-games (woohoo) much of Ignition's narrative seems like context for the gameplay rather than essential plot back story. The racing mini-game — which puts you in control of a red line — is particularly poor. Here you'll dodge in-between glowing panels (you know they're computer related because they have 1's and 0's on them) hoping to outrun rival blue, green and purple lines. As if it couldn't control bad enough, the game also loves to make it feel as though you're playing upside down. Fantastic.
The other mini-games involve bouncing lights around a maze with mirrors and playing tower defense in reverse. The latter of which is so mind-bogglingly confusing we found ourselves getting through the game by simply hammering all of the DualShock's face buttons. It worked.
Dangling delicately at the end of Ignition's first mini-game hack is an unlockable suit for Isaac Clarke in Dead Space 2. Seeing as Dead Space 2 is going to actually be properly amazing, we managed to find the willpower to struggle through Ignition long enough to unlock the goodie.
But Ignition does nothing to achieve its aims. The plot doesn't go deep enough to make it a good set-up for the retail release, nor does it build anticipation. If anything, it actually tempered our excitement. Even the most hardcore Dead Space fans are unlikely to get much out of Ignition. The costume's cool, but unlocking it feels like work.
Ignition would have worked better as a short, paper comic-book. As a downloadable mini-game compilation it's alarmingly weak.