Dead Space 2 review

by Alex Morgen on January 31, 2011

in Game Review Bits, Sony PlayStation News Bits, Xbox News Bits

Dead Space 2 screen
Dead Space 2 coverDead Space 2
Available for: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Game Developer: Visceral Games
Game Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Official website: deadspace.ea.com

4 out of 5 stars
Rating:
5 out of 5

Review Summary:
Dead Space 2 delivers more than just an engrossing sci-fi action game with improvements on the original Dead Space. It delivers an interactive narrative that truly taps into the player’s emotions. From the onset of the game and through the conclusion, Dead Space 2 is a pulse-pounding experience in terror. Players will always be on guard, yet still be broken. The necromorphs may be scary and gory, but the newfound level of terror bred by Visceral Games creates a claustrophobic terror unparalleled in gaming. The lighting is spectacular and amplified by the jolting audio. Isaac Clarke is better personified through his voice, but it his eyes that are even more expressive of his dementia. Dead Space 2 isn’t survival horror. It’s survival terror. An adrenaline rush from start to finish, Dead Space 2 is an opus of both horror and terror. Visceral Games has mastered the art of fear and set a new standard in gaming.

Dead Space 2 review

Welcome to the Sprawl, where your fears will unfold. Dead Space 2 is set on the colonized moon of Saturn, set three years after the original Dead Space. Protagonist Isaac Clarke narrowly made it out of the planetcracker USG Ishimura and its reanimated inhabitants, aka Necromorphs. Now, Isaac awakens to newfound fears and terror on the Sprawl. Still haunted by visions of his girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, Isaac sets out to survive hundreds of Necromorphs, Unitologists, the Government Sector and his own mind.

Dead Space 2 is filled with a good share of gameplay improvements over the original game. Transitions from chapters are seamless without any noticeable loading time. Zero-G gameplay is much improved, allowing complete freedom of movement this time. Puzzles feel more integrated in the game rather than a mini-game distraction. Even the inventory screen has more dimension to it. Because of the new expanded setting of the Sprawl, environments are much more varied than just the interior of a spaceship. One of my favorite environments was the Church of Unitology. Many relics, etched walls and stained glass windows make unitology feel like an age old religion. Other environments, which I won’t spoil, are very different from anything you have seen in the original Dead Space. The lighting and audio are exemplary. Players will appreciate this from subtle details such as the static noise from a terminal flickering rapidly on Isaac’s suit. Or the jarring strobe effect of damaged screens throughout dimly lit corridors. Some corridors are cast in a cold eerie fluorescent blue, the result of an unfinished clean-up job. Engineering rooms are heavy with smoke and particles in the air. The cacophony of machinery is unsettling. Distant whispers calling “Iiiiiisaac” haunt seemingly empty corridors. The original Dead Space had some great audio and I didn’t think Dead Space 2 could outdo it, but it has.

Watch the video clip below, or here.

Isaac Clarke was the silent unsung hero of the original Dead Space game. In Dead Space 2, there is much more to his expressiveness than just grunts and a brief flash of his face. I admit I had much reservation about Isaac having a voice after the bold approach in the original game, however getting into the mind and interaction with other key characters in Dead Space 2 would have been impossible without it. Some of the repeated cursing while stomping on necromorphs may seem superfluous, and at times Isaac’s dialogue may be a bit on the campy action hero one liners side. Where Visceral Games really succeed in Isaac Clarke’s expressions was not so much by his voice, but by his eyes. The cover of Dead Space 2 hints on this, but there are more than a few instances in Dead Space 2 where Isaac’s fear or shock make a connection with players through his eyes. Although Isaac never looks directly at the player, the connection that players make through the expressions from Isaac are really unlike any game I’ve played. Most characters in other games have a glazed over, robotic look; not Isaac Clarke.

Dead Space 2 - Isaac Clarke

Necromorphs are the undead force of horror in Dead Space 2, with many returning and even a good share of new creature designs. When the reanimated corpses overpower Isaac in number, such as the Pack, this will send you running for cover or emptying out a barrage on them. One of the most terrifying Necromorphs appears much later in the game. It is an unstoppable force that will make for more than a few tense and claustrophobic situations. Dead Space 2 also taps into psychological terror, something rarely (if ever) done by a game. As I mentioned earlier with the environments and audio, those are the things that truly get under your skin in Dead Space 2. The Necromorphs may be among the most gross reanimated humans in gaming, but eventually players will be desensitized to the mangled, abstract flesh. It is the setup of the environments, audio and flashbacks that define and create the biggest scares of Dead Space 2. The death scenes are among the most uncomfortable sequences to look at (but a must see!).

Watch the video clip below, or here.

It wouldn’t be a Dead Space game without a good share of tools (aka weapons) and suits to customize and upgrade. The weapons from the original Dead Space make a return, with a few very cool new ones. One of my favorite new weapons to use was the javelin gun. The javelin gun is a spear launcher that nails necromorphs to the wall. The secondary fire releases a deadly electric shock that can cause a chain reaction effect on a party of necromorphs (or even on yourself). Besides the CEC Engineering Suit, there are a few schematics to find that will unlock more suits. My favorite happened to be the throwback CEC Vintage Suit. All of them look great, including the shiny new Advanced Prototype Suit. Bench upgrades allow weapons and suits to become more powerful, and in-game credits can be used to purchase weapons, ammunition and med kits.

Dead Space 2 - Vintage Suit

Playing the original Dead Space is not required to enjoy Dead Space 2, but there are enough references in the game that the seasoned Dead Space player will appreciate. Few games manage to nod back to the original game in several instances the way Dead Space 2 does. There are also a good amount of flashbacks that players of the original Dead Space will recall, which help in setting up the scares. I remember more than a few instances on seeing a broken wall or vent and thinking “oh no, here it comes.” Whether it does or does not, you will have to see for yourself.

Dead Space 2 - screenshot

Extending the gameplay value of Dead Space 2 is an unlockable difficulty mode and for the first time in the series, online multiplayer. Dead Space 2 offers four modes of varying difficulty. A hardcore mode will be unlocked once the game is completed (at any difficulty). Items and several bonuses can be carried over to a second replay of Dead Space 2 (New Game+ feature), so I recommend starting at a lower difficulty level and then taking on the higher difficulty settings. You will want to play through Dead Space 2 more than once, and maybe even attempt the hardcore mode (should you be daring enough to try it with only 3 save slots and no checkpoints). For even more gameplay time with Dead Space 2, the included multiplayer mode allows many more hours of fun, allowing players to be human or necromorph. Various objective based challenges can be played and experience points earned for reaching higher levels and weapon unlocks.

Dead Space 2 propels the series to a whole new level of thrills, terror and gameplay. Visceral Games really live up to their name and delivers a gameplay experience and story that really pulls in and shakes up the player’s emotion. In most games, it is easy to feel disconnected or detached, playing a game in the third-person. With the many terrifying moments in Dead Space 2 and fear instilled through its central character, you better believe Dead Space 2 will jolt your emotions and get under your skin. Dead Space 2 is a must play adrenalin rush and keeper in your gaming collection!

Dead Space 2 - screenshot

###

Thanks to EA for making this Dead Space 2 review possible!

Dead Space 2 Collector’s Edition unboxed pictures (available for PS3, Xbox 360, PC):



Dead Space 2 FTW

Thanks to Aegis7.com for the killer Unitology font!


More gaming news and articles around the web:



Previous post:

Next post: