Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2 review: Multiplayer and gameplay tweaks should please new players and Dead Space veterans alike

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EA Games Dead Space 2
  • EA Games Dead Space 2
  • EA Games Dead Space 2

Pros

  • Offers more variety in gameplay than its predecessor, addition of multiplayer

Cons

  • Not as tense as the first Dead Space (I liked it better this way but some might be disappointed)

Bottom Line

Dead Space 2 may not be as frightening as the first game but it still an atmospheric and action-pact game that will make you think twice before entering a darkened room.

Would you buy this?

A deep space setting, a brooding ambience and gruesome arachnid foes; Dead Space ticked all the boxes for fans of horror games. Two years and two prequels later, Visceral Games has brought forth Dead Space 2 as a direct sequel to the game that launched the series.

Three years after barely escaping an alien infestation aboard the Ishimura starship, Isaac Clarke is left with amnesia and thrust back into the exact same compromising position as he was in during the first game.

In what seems to be the kind of bad luck previously reserved for Ellen Ripley from the Alien trilogy (because Alien Resurrection never happened in our world), the creatures that killed and reanimated the Ishimura crew into killing machines have returned. They have made their way to a colony on one of Saturn's moons which, unfortunately, is where Isaac has ended up.

On top of that, the images of Isaac's now-deceased girlfriend are haunting him Silent Hill 2 style. Somebody give this man a break!

For those that missed the first Dead Space, the monsters are called Necromorphs; they are reminiscent of Zergs from StarCraft and they are hard to kill. They cannot be disposed of with just a bullet to the head: They require systematic dismemberment.

I could get deep into the storyline and explain how there is this strange alien religion that ties into the plot, but, frankly, it's just as convoluted as the Halo storyline so I'll let you play the game and unravel the mysteries yourself (this isn't a spoilers page, buddy).

The drawcard of Dead Space had always been its scare factor. It literally made people jump in fright, much akin to the effect of the dogs crashing through the windows in Resident Evil.

Let's just address this now: Dead Space 2 is not as scary as the first game.

For one, the setting plays a part. This time around, it's in a more populated location, complete with shops, residential quarters and Unitology churches. I found it much more comfortable roaming around in that kind of environment. The Ishimura, being a mining vessel, was inherently a little more creepy.

I'm not saying Dead Space 2 isn't atmospheric, with ample numbers of poorly lit rooms, but it's just not the same.

What the game does exploit is primal fear. Because when you've seen a Necromorph once you've see it a hundred times. But when your kid cousin suddenly jumps out of the pantry screaming, it's hard not to react even if it is a cheap scare.

Dead Space 2 is littered with sneaky Necromorphs that jump out from the dark and random things going off in the dark (damn those stray air vents!) going off to suddenly to scare the bejesus out of your. But that hasn't really changed much from the first game.

What Dead Space 2 does offer is more polished gameplay and some nice additions to differentiate itself from its predecessor.

As well as combat, Dead Space 2 offers a minigame involving hacking access terminals well as innovative use of Kinesis. Don't get me wrong — there is still plenty of limb-removing action with a trusted Plasma Cutter followed by a swift gory stomp to the dismembered bodies — but the game offers a bit more variety than just pointing and shooting.

With Kinesis, you can actually use it to grab objects, including taking hold of a Necromorph's sharp severed limbs and shooting them right back at it.

As shown in E3, there are new weapons, such as the javelin gun which can pin enemies to the wall and fry them to death with electricity. Another worthy addition is a modification to the pulse rifle that turns it into a grenade launcher — very handy against a large number of enemies.

Joining the expansive sub-species list of Necromorphs, Visceral Games has included a new type which resembles a horde of naked screaming toddlers. Not really scary (more annoying) but they hunt in packs so players have to shoot fast to avoid getting swarmed.

The new locator system comes in handy, the weapons upgrade system has been streamlined and the zero-gravity events have been changed up a little.

Multiplayer mode is always a welcomed addition to a game especially one that allows you to assume the skin of your alien foe. Much in the vein of the Left 4 Dead series, multiplayer in Dead Space allows you to play in the Necromorph or human faction.

Multiplayer gameplay is fairly balanced, since whatever biological and group advantages the Necromorphs have, the humans can match that with some serious firepower.

Overall Dead Space 2 is more about the action than relying too much on cheap thrills like the first game. There are still "holy moley I need clean underwear" moments, however.

Multiplayer and some nifty additions to the single-player mode bring replay value, and should satisfy veterans of Dead Space as well as lure new victims — I mean, players — into the Necromorph nightmare.

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