The mouse controls in Dead Space are absolutely horrible. At first, I thought it was just me, but apparently not. In the game’s menus, the mouse is way too sensitive and jumpy. In the game itself, the camera control is exceptionally slow and imprecise. You’ve got to move the mouse halfway across your desk to get the camera to turn 90 degrees.
I tried cranking up the mouse sensitivity to the max, but it was still too slow. So I plugged in a high-DPI mouse, using hardware to compensate for an obvious software problem. The faster mouse allowed me to control the camera properly when my character is standing still, but get this: the mouse tracking rate changes when you’re in “aim mode” or whenever you press a movement key on the keyboard. In both cases, the mouse slows back down again to nearly unusable speeds. Worse, perhaps, is just the disconnect between when you’re moving and when you’re not. One tends to make that transition constantly when playing a game like this, sweeping the camera with the mouse while maneuvering one’s character in the world. Letting off of W, A, S, or D in mid-camera-sweep here, though, means a sudden transition to much different mouse tracking rate.
Which is a complicated way of explaining that I can’t frickin’ move right.
Obviously, this was a game designed for game consoles and dual-stick gamepads, and everything about it just screams “bad PC port.” You’d think that moving from a gamepad to a vastly more sensitive and precise form of analog input, a game developer would want to take full advantage of the improved control of the new platform, especially in a shooter like this one. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Also, the game’s entire interface, from the initial setup menus to the in-game controls over HUD items and weapons, are obviously designed for a gamepad with a small number of buttons. This game has so many nested menus where a single keypress would suffice—like it does in almost every other PC shooter. Ugh.
Having read through various forum threads on the matter and experimented with it myself, I’m pretty well convinced Dead Space‘s controls are just broken. Our best hope now seems to be a patch, but given the amount of care given to the PC port, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
And don’t tell me to use a gamepad. I’d rather drive a railroad spike into my temple.
In fact, I’m moving on to Fallout 3, and I may just leave Dead Space out of our next round of video card tests. PC gamers deserve better.
Update: Much love to Games Radar, whose review says:
This would have been a much more compelling horror game if not for the bizarrely sluggish mouse movement, which feels strangely slow and floaty. This is not a sensitivity issue, and occurs even in the main menu. You get used to it eventually, but it makes pinpoint-accuracy abnormally and unnecessarily difficult in a game that demands it more than the average shooter.