Review: Dead Space 2

BRING THE TERROR TO SPACE

Developer: Visceral Games
Genre: Sci-Fi / Horror Third Person Shooter
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Compatability (PS3): 9MB Mininum Space | DUALSHOCK 3 Vibration Function | HD 480p / 720p | Online Multiplayer 4-8
Compatability (Xbox 360): 460KB Mininum Space | HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p | Online Multiplayer 4-8
Rating: 7.9

When Isaac Clarke stepped aboard the Ishimura back in 2008, his routine checkup on the ship turned out to be a little less boring than expected, and a lot more violent. A whole day of seeing humans torn apart and turned into murderous, four-armed monstrosities isn’t something you shake off easily, and might just be the only thing Isaac’s boots can’t stomp in half, and so it’s much to his horror that it isn’t long before he wakes up in a nearby city only to face the torment again, both from the Necromorphs and from the paranoid hallucinations caused by his shattered mind.

In fact, the beginning of Dead Space 2 really is that sudden, as the game wastes no time in throwing you face-first into a circus of blood, flying limbs and screams. As you might have guessed, the game is both gruesome and relentless, and this is perhaps a double-edged sword that can benefit as well as drag the game down in a similar fashion to the first game. If squeamishness alone can be enough to give you a thrilling experience, Dead Space 2 will terrify you from start to finish. The problem therein is for us desensitized gamers; for while monsters jumping out of vents and suddenly bursting to life are good enough as cheap tricks, I personally found the tension and followed surprise that great horror games can deliver very flat on the ground. I say this right off the bat because while Dead Space 2 works brilliantly as an action/third person shooter, it heavily markets itself as being ‘terrifying’. Deep, intense and very finely polished are ways I’d describe the game, but gamers looking for beginning-to-end scares should look elsewhere.

Non-stop action awaits you in Dead Space 2.

Speaking of action, Visceral have really stepped their game up in terms of set pieces and pacing. Isaac Clarke does not feel like a character who can only walk and shoot; as quick-time events are now both frequent and incredibly cinematic, and even just a change like having to shoot oncoming Necromorphs whilst dangling upside-down from the ceiling changes the dynamic completely, always keeping the player on his or her toes. While weaponry hasn’t undergone a great deal of change (power nodes still level up your guns and rig, etc) the additions of the Javelin Gun and Seeker Rifle help spice up the inventory and invite different play-styles adapted to one’s liking.

What disappointed me most about Dead Space 2, and its predecessor for that matter, is its storytelling. In premise, it’s brilliant; a wider plot of the Necromorph invasion and the intervention of EarthGov is carried along with the smaller, more personal narrative of Isaac battling his guilt after the death of Nicole – but with the exception of fantastically portrayed hallucinations and flashbacks, I just wasn’t feeling it. Dialogue is often vague, leaving you waiting for answers that are never given, and it may take another playthrough for most people to truly understand the plot. Due to this, I found the lead-up to the climax fairly underwhelming, and many plot twists lacked gravity (pun not intended).

You will see more blood than the original game.

In a somewhat unexpected move, Visceral have also added a multiplayer mode for Dead Space 2. It perhaps should not be such a surprise, with the vast majority of games now being obliged to have a multiplayer mode of some sort, but what doesn’t surprise is that it definitely feels tacked-on and uninspired. Teams of four survivors face off against four Necromorph players in objective-based game modes that are, while mildly entertaining, nothing new or special, and certainly lack any of the atmosphere that the single player is able to build up.

Dead Space 2 is, for me, a great example of unfulfilled potential. It’s solid, satisfying and mixes action, shooter and RPG elements masterfully, but only at its best moments did it scare me, or make me sympathize with Isaac. If you liked the first game fear not, this is definitely more of the same, for better or worse, but for a real horror game with real chills, you may want to keep looking.

Reviewed by failboatskipper – March 12, 2011

Graphics
Visuals aren’t anything particularly special, but lighting effects are good, and the HUD is still brilliantly designed.
 
Sound
Voice acting ranges from great (Isaac) to poor (Ellie), and while music is at a minimum, small and subtle sound effects help set the mood.
 
Fun
Action-wise, the game is a blast. Lack of compelling narrative may be a hindrance, but it’s a great title to simply pick up and play, and allows players to experiment with different weapons and play-styles easily.
 
Final Score

 

Responses

  1. I see two screenshots, both from first game. At Dead Space 2 article ☺


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