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Dead Space 2 Review |

Isaac Clarke is back but unfortunately for him so are the Necromorphs and that can mean only one thing, Ishimura dismembering needs to be done! Dead Space 2 can easily be described as the Aliens to Dead Space’s Alien or an Uncharted 2 to Uncharted; it’s as if James Cameron has hijacked EA’s survival horror franchise chucked in a load of blockbuster set pieces but then forgot to add the 3D. So Dead Space 2 aims to improve upon its predecessor by adding more but more doesn’t always mean better, does it emerge unscathed or come up short like a Necromorph with no legs?

The biggest change from Dead Space 1 is that Isaac now talks, in the original he was a voiceless, emotionless monolith only ever breathing deeply or grunting when stomping (there is simply not enough stomping in video games). You barely got to see his face even with only true emotional outburst coming at the end. That’s all change now with a less plain avatar like approach, Visceral have added a cinematic element by giving a talking, acting face to Isaac. He’s not afraid to remove his helmet and show his face to the world in the cut scenes, which really helps to develop the story as you start to empathize with him. The plot is fantastic in keeping you engaged with Isaac’s plight as you discover what has really happened in the last 3 years since the incident on the USG Ishimura.

The environments are varied too taking place all over the new location; The Sprawl, a space city built on one of Jupiter’s moons involving all sorts of locations. There are some great vistas to behold and some fun excursions outside into space which help to create a sense of… well space. This is not a large free-roaming romp though as Dead Space 2 follows the familiar claustrophobic rules set by the survival horror genre so expect plenty of long corridors, tight elevators and travelling on small vehicles. The action is well handled with ebbs and flows never quite allowing you to relax, just when you think its safe Dead Space 2 is always ready to throw something new at you. There were moments where I managed to notice hazards before they happened, rather than feeling like the game was too obvious it made me feel smart as if I was learning my enemy and surroundings. The action is again broken up with puzzles though they are quite scarce; I always enjoy puzzles in survivor horror titles and wished they would include more. The hacking sections are enjoyable though and it becomes more critical that you get them right quickly towards the game’s climax…

Along with the new environments the Necromorph variety has also increased thanks to the Sprawl being a city rather than a ship containing workers they have mutated humans of any age. There is the creepy, pack, a gang of kids and crawlers – exploding babies that can leave you literally nursing your wounds, no kidding! Another new Necromorph is the Puker whose name is pretty self explanatory, their spew will actually slow you down which can prove a nuisance when surrounded by others. The bird like Stalkers change up the pace quite considerably with their cat and mouse (or should that be bird?) like games as they charge at you from behind cover. Fortunately there are plenty of new weapons to deal out dismemberment punishment with. The Seeker rifle (a sniper rifle), Javelin (like a bolt/nail gun particularly useful when fully upgraded) and the Detonator (a mine layer). They add to the already bustling weapon line-up including old favourites like the Plasma Cutter, Line Gun and Ripper. On a first play through they offer up almost too much choice as you’re never quite sure which weapons to use especially as it can be hard to predict the type of encounters that lay ahead.

Dead Space 2 has followed the way paved by Uncharted and Bioshock and added a multiplayer component to what was already a solid single player experience. It takes the form of a 4 v 4 match with one team of humans against Necromorphs; the humans have to carry out objectives based on the map whilst the Necromorphs must simply kill/stop them. That’s all there is to it, it requires good team work to be successful but as is often the case with multiplayer games that feature teams of different species there is a problem with balancing. It doesn’t quite have the balance seen in AVP that had different weapons countering each other’s or even combinable abilities for the monsters like in Left 4 Dead. It also gets repetitive quickly making it at best a quick blast to complement the single player; there are also no trophies so Trophy Hunters won’t be forced to endure many hours of grinding. EA and Visceral should be applauded for this, too many good games have had awful online trophies like Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock 2 and Killzone 2 and I had wrongfully presumed DS2 would follow suit. Speaking of Trophies if you thought impossible was bad, wait till you see hardcore mode, this means no check points and you can only save 3 times. Oh and don’t think you can carry all your upgrades and earnings over onto it, oh no you have to start a new game with nothing.

Technically Dead Space 2 is out of this world with a rock solid frame rate of 30fps that never falters, its also a true case of platform parity for once. The lighting engine not only looks outstanding but it’s also integral, enhancing the atmosphere of the Sprawl. There are some truly breathtaking moments including one room involving a gravity machine that constantly changes the lighting of a room with its revolving parts. Sound design is also spot on as the soundtrack never utilises a continuous melody leaving you constantly on edge with its unpredictable tangents and sounds. One problem I had audio wise though was with the sound levels for voices, I could barely make out some radio chatter but a quick tweak of the audio levels fixed it up (80, 100, and 80 if you’re having the same problem).

Dead Space 2 has plenty of re-playability to obtain all weapons and suits along with the various difficulty modes and multiplayer. It’s as Brilliant to look at as it is to play and every feature from the graphics, to sound to plot have all matured to an outstanding degree, the controls are just perfection with their precise responsiveness never letting you down in the most chaotic of moments. It hard as nails and strikes a fine balance between barely having any provisions but giving you enough to survive, too many games become too easy once you’ve built up a cache but not DS2 where you find yourself in the deep end at the start and it doesn’t get much better come its gruelling finale. It brings a whole new meaning to survival horror it can even be an effort to motivate yourself to play it. It’s a deeply immersive world and every time you boot the disc up there’s a feeling of impending dread as you know your adrenaline glands are going to kick in again soon. It’s so enjoyable though that you can overcome your fears and push on as you know that next set piece will be a blast. Dead Space 2 does everything you wish a sequel would do, it is bigger, louder and better making it Issactly what you hoped for.

* The story mode was played to completion on normal… after dying a lot on Survivalist. All multiplayer maps and character types were played and I almost jumped as many times as limbs were dismembered.

This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Dead Space 2 provided by EA.

  • pedro

    I loved it!

    It’s been a while since I felt interest in replaying a game of this kind, but immediately after finishing it I started a new game+ on Zealot (and then I started dying a lot).

    This was one great experience.

    Great review btw

  • It’s an excellent game, thanks for the review. Although for trophy hunters the Hardcore mode is a b*tch. You can only save 3 times for the whole game.

  • EdEN

    I’m between getting the CE or just the regular one. The expenses leading up to the baby being born are piling up FAST.

  • Beastxjason

    Beat this last night. Seeing a therapist today lol Game is crazy! 10.0 Solid review. I found nothing wrong with this game at all. It is absolutely demented and gorgeous.

    Pedro said it best, you start it again as soon as it ends. It is that good

  • hobbes

    hmm that hardcore trophy sounds impossible

  • Thanks for the review Trev, enjoyed the read.

  • pedro

    hobbes: hmm that hardcore trophy sounds impossible  

    It certainly does.

    Zealot is quite difficult already (and you start with all the things from previous playthroughs).

    I don’t know if Hardcore is easier or harder (health/ammo/enemies) but the fact you can only save 3 times and if you die respawn at your previous SAVE does sound like crazy difficult.

    But someone could do it, since we’ve all seen the finger gun you get for it.

  • Jonaskin

    I’m playing through the first game at the moment (late to the party I know, but I’d heard plenty of good things about both games and wanted to pick it up before getting the second one). I’m loving it and by all accounts DS2 is even better. Good review, looking forward to picking it up.

  • Nice review! Dead Space 2 looks awesome, can’t wait to get it!

  • Great review! Currently on my Zealot play through, then hard core. I found the open environment of the sprawl made it less scary (hallways in the first got me tense) but the Stalkers….>_> I hate those guys.

  • I did Zealot mode, as my first difficulty. It made me cry a lot from how little ammo you get. And then 3 times more crying of that when I saw what hardcore mode was made out of.

    The end made me especially cry in terror, and I actually had to break my oath of “Kill off everything in the way”. Best game I’ve played in a looong time.

    Also: Detonator wrecks stalkers. Moreso than stasis. Just sayin’

  • Great review. Was never keen on the first game

  • @Abkanis ya I didn’t end up buying the detonator on my first round lol. Worse part is how they jump UP and over things XD. I always knew when they would show up by the level layout. Try to keep my back to the wall lol. My biggest regret on the last few levels was not having the force gun. Very last store in the game I used the Zealot force gun XD. Helped so much when I was trying to gtfo lol.

  • My next pickup, or at least rental. The first one didn’t look good to me at all (maybe because I was still stuck in PlayStation 2 purgatory). It still didn’t even appeal to me even after I got my PS3 in June of 2010.

    I have a question: is it genuinely scary, or just startling? If it’s just startling, I’ll save my money and GameFly it.

  • @MAINEiac4434 The first one for me was the scariest. It was the atmosphere, the sound effects, the tone. I also hated the tight hallways. Never knowing when something would jump out at me, so I’d be tense the whole time until something finally appeared and then I’d focus on my “KILL KILL KILL” instincts XD.

    There were plenty of times when I’d be thinking about the game at work, and I’d think “Let’s play Dead Space when I get home!” Get home. Pop it in. Load up. Then I’d just stand there and not move for half an hour going “why did I decide to play this?” Even on multiple play throughs it still gets me a little, specially the levels I hated most lol. Playing alone. In the dark. Surround sound.

    Dead Space 2 wasn’t as scary for me, mainly due to the lack of super tight spaces, since you’re on a space station. But I loved it. And like I mentioned above there were new necromorphs that I HATED to run into, they’d always have me on my toes.