Dead Space 2 Review
developer: Visceral Games
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jan 25, 11 (released)
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Well, I think it's safe to say Dead Space was one the most enjoyable sci-fi horror themed action games in recent times. Several qualities separated the game from loads of mundane third-person shooters. It had solid and immensely fun gameplay mechanics, great graphics and a superb sci-fi ambiance crammed from top to bottom with well-placed spine-tingling horror elements. There's always room for improvement, of course.
In Dead Space 2, the main character, Isaac Clarke, finds himself on Sprawl, a huge cyber-metropolis or rather a massive human colony, located on one of moons of Saturn. It's been three years since the events in Dead Space (and Dead Space: Aftermath - the full-length animation feature that explains exactly what transpired after the original game). Anyhow, Isaac is now heavily influenced by the dementia that was caused by the alien artifact known as the Marker. The effects of the Marker are permanent and will trigger serious hallucinations and bouts of relentless anger. Isaac awakes in a hospital on Sprawl, as a new infestation of Necromorphs begins.
He does look a bit peckish.
The story in the first Dead Space game was rather basic and it worked okay. However, it was clear the in Dead Space 2 gamers would want some eye-openers and that's what you can expect this time around. Not only that, but Isaac is fully-voiced and will show more emotion, giving us a better understanding of what's going on inside his mind and how strongly the Marker influences him. While Isaac remains the center of the story, he's also going to run into a few new characters along the way.
To put it as simply as possible, Dead Space 2 really doesn't need complex plot structure or Shakespearean dialogue. It effectively portrays a desperate fight for survival, while everything around the main character slowly goes to pieces. The pacing of the story very much resembles what we've experienced in the original game. Mind you, Visceral Games move things up a few notches with unexpected kick-ass cut-scenes with occasional quick-time events neatly tucked in.
This game relies on the successful formula of Dead Space 1, offering lots of choices on how to deal with hordes of oncoming Necromorphs. The familiar limb-cutting routine is still your best bet and, yes, the famous Plasma Cutter (which is available right from the start or you can import the Cutter from the original if you have a save game from Dead Space 1 handy). The key in this one is not to fall into the same trap as in the original and just stick to one weapon exclusively. You can do that, of course, but then you'll be missing out so much that is offered with a variety of cool weaponry. In the end, I found myself using three weapons simultaneously - the Plasma Cutter, Detonator Mines and my personal favorite the Seeker Rifle (a deadly futuristic version of the sniper rifle). So, it's good to see that the developers paid more attention to how the weapons are balanced in DS 2.
Now, being one of those insane people who played the original Dead Space several times (and even finished it on 'Impossible' difficulty), I was very pleased with the sequel in terms of overall difficulty. The AI in the first game was good, although some of the behavior patterns are way better now. Certain enemies such as the shrieking Stalkers are very tough. They hide behind corners and attack when you least expect them to. Also, having to deal with three or four types of Necromorphs simultaneously is a challenge even for veteran gamers. For instance, Pukers attack from a distance and will slow you down, the Pack (basically children that were converted into Necromorphs) dash straight towards you in groups and if Lurkers and Spitters join in the fight, your chances for survival are very slim indeed. While most Necromorphs are loud and can be detected before they attack, a few of them prefer to remain silent. So, as you're trying to mow down an army of them directly, don't forget to watch your back too, because a lot of predators will jump on you quietly while you're distracted. That's why you should think about where to position yourself and which weapons to use.
A well-made sequel, with perked up visuals, improved gameplay, some impressive new AI routines at work and there's a spiffy new multiplayer mode to be had this time around;
Some players may get fed up with the whole slicing-the-Necromoprhs routine, the story could've been a bit more interesting I suppose.