Product Type: Electronic Arts Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... and contending with intrigue, betrayal and one seriously pissed off ex-girlfriend, Isaac must uncover what has happened here and find a... more
The Dead of Space will terrify you again!
Dead Space 2 (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Stunt 101
Dead Space 2 (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Terrifying Atmosphere, disturbing enemies, tight presentation, new game+.
Disadvantages: Tacked-on Multiplayer.
The original Dead Space was a terrifying experience. Its new limb dismemberment mechanisms made it stand out from other horror games around it, and its dark atmosphere ensured scares came from all over the place. The sequel, Dead Space 2, is here and ready to scare fans and gamers new to the franchise alike. Boasting a terrifying new campaign, as well as multiplayer for those social gamers out there, Dead Space 2 aims to improve and outdo its predecessor. Does it succeed, or is it sucked into space with crushing disappointment?
Dead Space 2 follows 3 years from its predecessor. You return to the boots of Isaac Clarke, a man who seems to have been placed into a mental asylum because of the traumas of his past. Players can immediately see that he is being haunted by visions of his lost love, Nicole. The game, after a brief introduction, throws you into the heat. As you are being untied and freed, your saviour is infected by a necromorph and you are sent like a headless chicken to run through this overrun facility with all kinds of necromorph surrounding the place. After quickly escaping, you are left to fend for yourself, as Isaac searches to destroy 'The Marker', the object which caused the chaos of the first game's events, and is doing so again in its sequel. There are many twists and turns in this terrifying journey, but the star of Dead Space 2's show is Isaac. Players will empathize with his struggle, as bad luck seems to be with him. You can't help but feel Isaac just has no kind of luck, and as his mind starts to break down through the course of the game, it's all the more worse.
The game follows a similar state of progression unfamiliar to its predecessor. The game takes place over the course of 15 chapters, and follows a linear, corridor-shooter style. The game has a manual save system, though the game presents checkpoints to you as the save points are spaced out. The game doesn't let up with the tension and atmosphere. As I mentioned, the game starts with Isaac, strapped in a patient suit, and you are told to run as the place becomes infected with the necromorph. Generally, the game stays at a moderate difficulty, with most careless mistakes punished with death. A lack of ammo/health packs can leave some situations in dire straits, and these tend to make Dead Space 2 difficult. The worst case, however, comes from Chapter 14, where an invincible necromorph appears. He is frustrating to dodge, and can kill you sometimes in one successive hit. It makes Chapter 14 incredibly frustrating, and is a disappointing penultimate chapter to the game. It's not quite enough to dampen the whole game, but it's somewhat of a buzz kill to the experience.
Isaac dons the Rig, which he fashionably wore in the previous game. The concept around the rig is not only to be a suit, shield and fashion statement for Isaac, but also to remove any elements of the game's Heads-Up-Display. The health is displayed on the spine of Isaac's suit, while his stasis ability meter is placed a little in the top corner of it. Rather than pausing the game to view his inventory, you press the Back button to display the contents of Isaac's inventory at the moment in time, all while the game is carrying on around you. It adds an element of tension to the game, as equipping items could come at the cost of movement and cause death. You can buy new suits throughout the game by finding schematics throughout the game, and these add not only more inventory slots, but bonuses such as more damage with certain weapons and discounts at the store. You can unlock special suits by completing the game, adding replay value.
Combat, much like the first game, boils down to decapitations. And not the kind with headshots - doing that will end up making the enemies not only angrier but also more violent. No, it comes down to taking off each of the enemies' limbs one by one. The game uses a targeting system similar to something like Resident Evil: there are no aiming indicators on-screen, instead a laser from your weapon guiding your shots. Shooting a necromorph normally won't get you very far, and does little damage to them in the long run. Cutting off limbs, however, can kill an enemy ten times quicker, and even bosses can go down without much resistance if you aim for the limbs. It can be tricky to aim your shots, but a Stasis ability can slow down enemies for a short period of time, meaning you can aim easier. However, along with ammo, this is in short supply, meaning you must use these abilities and take your shots carefully. Spamming a necromorph while missing can only lead to a lack of supplies, and usually frustrating deaths will ensue. The game's combat is gory, with violent sounds such as the squish of decapitated limbs making combat more satisfying.
There's a fair variety of weapons throughout Dead Space 2. The standard weapon for most people will be the plasma cutter, the basic pistol of the game. There's also the Pulse Rifle, the game's version of an assault rifle, the contact beam designed to pound into any enemy nearby, the Javelin Gun which is like a sci-fi version of a spear-gun and plenty more. Weapons aren't too expensive, but upgrading them can be. The upgrades come in the form of power nodes, which you can either buy for 10,000 credits or scavenge around the game. The game uses the same upgrade system as its predecessor, with the Bench returning. You place nodes in ports, which may contain upgrades for weapons such as damage and reload rate, but could also be dead spots which chain to more upgrades. Weapons could require up to 30 nodes to fully upgrade, meaning multiple playthroughs are required for multiple weapons to be fully upgraded. Thank god for New Game+.
The horrifying Necromorphs return in Dead Space 2, along with a new gang of mates to tear you apart. Old enemies return - you have your standard necros whom simply claw at your, as well as breeders who make more enemies for you to deal with. Other enemies include a Necro who contains an explosive left arm and can slam it into the ground in your vicinity to deal damage, almost animal versions of the standard necromorph who can crawl on the walls and, as I like to call them, turkey necros who hide around corners and charge into you. Then there's the new necromorphs introduced: including child-like crawlers who run at you in packs, tiny necromorphs carrying explosives on their back and acidic necromorphs who can slow you down with their spit. The new and old combine to create a decent variety of enemies - all of whom are grotesque and disturbing.
The atmosphere is so thick in Dead Space 2; you could cut it with a knife. Dark corridors lightened only by fires started by the ominous enemies send shivers down your spine. The fear of any necromorph enemy crawling their way through the air ducts and charging at you through the nearest vent is terrifying. The game certainly doesn't skimp on the gory details, neither. Violent scenes are a common thing throughout Dead Space 2, especially when it comes to death. Enemies who grab you in a terrifying choke hold, only to deplete your last bit of health, forcefully execute you. These cutscenes put the fear of god into the player, as he realises what these creatures are truly capable of. Other gory scenes include when Isaac must use a tiny drill into his own eye, but one mistake could mean ploughing through his entire skull. The gruesome consequences are truly one of the most shocking scenes I've seen in a videogame.
Much like its predecessor, the game's campaign is pretty short. You could probably blow through the game in not even 8 hours, depending on what difficulty you start out on. There is more replay value to Dead Space 2 though, with its New Game+ feature encouraging multiple playthroughs. It can certainly soften the difficulty on harder difficulties, when you go in donning fully upgraded weapons and a fully upgraded suit. And Dead Space 2 is that kind of game worth experiencing multiple times, because of all its shocking moments. Unfortunately, Visceral Games decided they needed to add multiplayer to extend the longevity. With only a few maps, most of which are simple variations of capture and secure, not even playing as the Necromorphs can salvage this bland mode.
Dead Space 2's presentation definitely goes a long way to help adding tension and fear. The game looks great, with its amazing lighting empathising darkness and the feeling of being alone. The horrifying Necromorph designs also add another layer of scares to the game with the freaky designs sending chills down your spine, especially with the fantastic animation combining for the game's destructive executions on poor Isaac. The creepy sound helps add another layer of tension. The voice acting is pretty good, with Isaac standing out most. The ambient music adds tension to the game, and the pitiful screams of Isaac when he is being chopped up put the fear of god into you. The crunches and splashes of combat add a brutal feeling to it.
If you're looking for something to truly terrify you, then look no further than Dead Space 2. Its disturbing enemies and intensifying atmosphere will put most players into a state of fright, especially in the dark. The game's presentation definitely help back this up, making Dead Space 2 one of the scariest games on Xbox 360. The game backs up its chills with solid gameplay, including a variety of weapons to chop the Necromorphs into pieces. It's a bit on the short side still, but New Game+ adds replay value to it, even if tacked-on multiplayer does not. Those with a taste for the fearful will find Dead Space 2 very worthwhile.
Summary: A frightening game worthwile for horror fans.