Dead Space: Downfall—Anchor Bay (Blu-ray)

Video: 3.75/5
Audio: 4/5
Extras: 3.25/5

On a deep space mining mission to a remote planet, an ancient religious relic - thought to be proof of the existence of God - is unearthed and brought aboard. When the unholy artifact unleashes a long-dormant alien race, its glimpse of Heaven transforms the ship into a living Hell. Prepare yourself for the disturbing opening chapters of the new EA game that takes adult animation to graphic new levels of bloodshed and terror.

I think this is the first time I’ve seen an animated feature get a release as a prequel to a video game. EA provides plenty of backstory for their blood laden first person shooter with this one. The animation style isn’t quite as impressive as most feature films but it rises above what most TV shows look like. The style is very similar to Aeon Flux in character design. The story revolves around a deep space mining team that finds a relic and decides to transport it back to Earth, only it seems that relic has been holding back a violent alien race that transforms bodies into mindless creatures bent on killing everything. Basically the perfect start to an ultra-gore based shooter.

The HD presentation is strong but the animation style isn’t overly impressive. Backgrounds are on the soft side and the character animations are pretty simple. There is some slight mixture of cell and CG based animation but most of the work is hand drawn. The image is contrast rich and black levels are solid but I did notice some occasional banding. Line twitter and shimmering is almost non-existent, which is a refreshing change for a lower budget animation feature. Overall this one doesn’t look bad, but it falls short of the quality we see from feature animation work.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and delivers a far more compelling soundtrack than I would have expected. The film’s score does a great job with the material and really opens up the main soundstage. Dynamic range is quite good and low bass extension is impressive at times. The voicework is a bit lame and the creatures sound like something out of the Scooby-Doo series, but the rest of the track holds up quite well.

Extras include some deleted scenes, the trailer and a look at the production of the film. There is also an isolated soundtrack to showcase the moody score and a photo gallery for the characters. EA also provides a trailer for the video game along with some cheat codes. A second disc also features a digital copy of the film for portable device playback.

My expectations were pretty low for this one but it ended up being a nice tie in for a video game. The story is simple, and so is the animation but the production values are better than expected. If you’re a fan of the game this is one to check out.

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