Dead Space 2 Review:
Slice-n-Dice, is it as twice as nice?
©2011 Ben Cadwallader
Visceral Games brand new flagship title, Dead Space 2 has finally been released to slice up the usually quiet January period.
Be prepared to watch every possible limb be torn, ripped, cut or shot off of the evil Necromorphs who have once again made their way back into the protagonist: Isaac Clarke‘s life.
Oh Isaac is insane and has a voice now, so expect to see some more Doom 3-esque horror sequences that don’t revolve around enemies jumping out from the dark to scare the pants off you.
With that being said, don’t expect to be losing your pants at all in this game (well maybe once or twice).
Gone are the incredibly eerie and dark confinements of the Ishimura from the original game, gone (mostly) are the unique set/scripted pieces that just made you scream and finally gone are the freak-you-out moments that turn out to be nothing, and you just laugh it off…
But then the lights go out again, and screaming noises kick in, glass breaks around the corner, footsteps approach, groaning and heavy breathing become louder, red lights flick on faintly illuminate the room showing you the silhouette of a fast approaching Necromorph who’s about to rip your face off. Screaming ensues.
So yes, sadly the majority of the memorable freak out moments made famous in the original Dead Space no longer make an appearance in Dead Space 2.
The opening sequence of the game is one of the few exceptions to this rule, where Isaac finds himself roaming unarmed, when a well timed breaking water pipe and a balloon create the tension that we know and love from Dead Space 1 or other horror games.
Replaced by this is a much stronger focus on progression and action otherwise known as survival. Isaac has a very similar load out to the original game. In fact besides the addition of a few extra guns everything is pretty much the same right down to the in game menu’s themselves.
So choose your favourite guns and be prepared to face many, many more Necromorphs than you ever thought was possible.
• Dead Space 2 Multiplayer Necromorph assault
Laser dice-n-slicers still here ….
The guns have been tweaked a bit this time to provide a more satisfying punch when you fire them. For example the Force Gun (my favourite) will not only obliterate and tear off every limb off every enemy in front of me, but it will also send them and every object in the room flying through the air, it’s a very impressive thing to watch.
While the guns have all been updated to be more badass, there is one minor downside that I’m sure many fans of the original will notice. In Dead Space 1, each gun had a laser or multiple lasers functioning as its crosshair.
This was not only a nice ‘hud-less’ design, but it was awesome because each laser interacted with the environment. If you could too close to a wall or only a half of your gun was aiming on your target the other remaining lasers would travel past your target. Sadly though, Dead Space 2 has had this feature removed, to be replaced by a imitation laser crosshair that no longer interactive.
One thing that feels incredibly cheap and nasty this time around is stomping. You might remember stomping in Dead Space 1, you mainly used it to crush open boxes or if you were brave enough to stop some very close Necromorphs.
Dead Space 2 still follows this general idea, but it has been tweaked essentially to be more fun and gory. Which it is. But Visceral Games for some reason decided to give you a huge incentive to use it. If you stomp on a corpse, you will usually receive an item such as health or ammo.
I personally thought that this was a stupid way to artificially increase the length of the game in a very annoying way. Could you ignore this feature and continue without it? Absolutely. But you won’t, because you’ll really, really want that loot. But by the end I had stomped on A LOT of enemies and it really felt like a chore.
• Dead Space Official Trailer
Room, lots of glorious room to play in
Isaac Clarke is no longer be confined to a single space ship this time around. Isaac will be exploring the city of Sprawl, a huge city built on one of Saturn’s moons.
And through this Isaac will frequently pass through many completely different areas such as schools, religious cults, science labs and the mall.
Some of these area’s have a very ‘Bioshock‘ feel to them, especially during the first half of the game. The game even parodies Bioshock in one of the engineering suits you acquire. This does keep the game feeling completely fresh as you play through, but also through this new location the feeling of desperation and loneliness can no longer be felt as you play.
• Dead Space 2 screenshot slidshow
Now as I mentioned earlier the game was influenced to have some Uncharted 2 style moments in it. And yes, Dead Space 2 has some very, very awesome set pieces. Although it would have been nice to have a few more throughout the game.
Outside of the set pieces, Isaac himself can perform a few cinematic things such as he can shoot out glass of the space station to vent out atmosphere and send all the Necromorphs out the window, by doing so you need to shoot the emergency close button to save yourself. These are quite intense and risky if you choose to kill your opponents this way but feels very rewarding when you succeed.
Ah yes, the story, it can mess with your head
It has a few very nice twists and turns that are totally unexpected. I don’t like spoiling games in my reviews so that’s all I will say in regards to the games narrative.
The presentation of Dead Space 2 is fantastic, the graphics look sleek and lighting is fantastic, although occasionally a few areas look intentionally dark/black which I found took me away from the immersion a little bit. Outside of that, it’s nice to see each environment look as believable as the last one and really gives you a sense of progression.
It’s not just the same hallway with a different coloured paint, it’s a completely different style and area. Isaac’s helmet looks 10x more badass especially when you see it fold away when Isaac has something to say. But the rest of his suits are a bit brown and underwhelming until you get the final suit.
It’s good to see more Necromorphs on screen this time and it’s great to see more limb-removal-action. In terms of comparing this to the original game, there is no great leap in technology here, this feels similar to like the difference between Gears of War 1 and Gears of War 2, you can just see it but it doesn’t add much.
• Dead Space 2 Dev Diary “Lighting sets the tone”
Nothing like the sound of steel grating on walls
The audio is fantastic , I found surround sound worked very well and added to my strategy. The voice acting is great, especially from the now-talking Isaac who genuinely sounds like a normal bloke and engineer.
Weapons sound more powerful this time and goes well with the new graphical update they received. The soundtrack excellently heightens the tension when you need it as well. However, the one thing that I missed from the original was, the faint whispering that could only be heard in the background as you explored the Ishimura. Something that added a real sense of suspense as you explored the ship.
The multiplayer experience is honestly very underwhelming and boring. One side plays as engineers and the other side plays as Necromorphs. It’s not very interesting and I don’t think it will last very long. But I think most people including myself didn’t buy Dead Space 2 for the multiplayer.
As you may have assumed by reading through this review, that yes I am one of the fans that preferred Dead Space 1 over its sequel. I genuinely missed the scares and more creepy atmosphere that the original had. In terms of atmosphere Dead Space 2 feels almost like a completely different game.
I think fans loyalties will be split, similarly to the fans of the classic Resident Evil games and the rebooted new style of Resident Evil 4 and 5. And with that said, by no means is Dead Space 2 a bad game. In fact it’s exactly what Visceral Games wanted it to be, more action focused.
If you go into Dead Space 2 knowing that you’ll fit right at home. Just don’t go in with the mindset that it will be exactly like Dead Space 1.
OXCGN’s Golden Award
©2011 Ben Cadwallader
• Dead Space 2 Screenshots galery
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