Dead Space 2 Review
Warning: Dead Space (the original) spoilers
Not much has changed from the original Dead Space. That is, it’s one of the best looking games on the console. Everything is incredibly detailed. The lighting is perfect and spot on, and there is a lot of gore. Much more so than in the first DS. If you couldn’t handle the first’s gore, do not play this game. There are many, many more brutal ways to die. The artistic side of things is improved from the first. Even the returning Necromorphs have some variation in their designs, which aids in the mood that people being infected with this scourge. In the first, most of the monsters looked the same. In this installment, the basic Slasher enemies will take on different forms; one might be wearing the guard’s security suit, while another is wearing a civilian’s clothes. Also, the suits you get in this game actually look different from one another, which is nice. It allows you to customize your appearance more. In short, this has some of the best graphics on the 360 that I’ve seen. Numerous small tweaks went a long way in this game, and it shows. The one downside is that you may, on occasion, experience some slowdown. However, this is very rare, and only lasts about a split second.
It is just as good as the first installment. There is some outstanding ambient noise, and it really contributes to the atmosphere. The weapons all sound the same, but that’s okay, because they sounded great in the first game. As before, the voice acting is top notch. EA really knows how to hire actors. The necromorphs sound just as good as before, and the new ones have their own chilling sounds to them. Also, Isaac has a voice in this one, which is well done.
I know many people will disagree with me, but I think this story is better than the first because of one reason: The psychological factor. It starts out with Isaac waking up in a space colony. It is revealed that he has been here for 3 years, but he can barely remember anything, aside from the fact that he is having horrific hallucinations of his girlfriend, who died aboard the Ishimura in the first Necromorph outbreak. Of course, another outbreak occurs on this station, and Isaac makes his escape. Throughout the course of the game, he is struggling with visions of his dead girlfriend, and a crazed patient telling him that he can help destroy the newly built Marker. The whole government religious conspiracy thing is still there, but I really liked the psychological factor that this game has.
It is largely the same as the first one, but there some improvements and tweaks that help enhance the game as a whole. I’ll break this part down into sections.
- The Shooting: The shooting is pretty much the same, but there are some new guns this time around. For instance, there is the Javelin launcher, which has the ability to impale Necros to a wall and shock them. You still have to aim for the limbs, and it remains satisfying and bloody as ever. Additionally, a few old favorites have been given new alt fire modes. The Assault Rifle, instead of shooting 360 degrees around you, shoots a grenade. And the Flamethrower now shoots the entire can, where it explodes, setting fire to anything in the immediate vicinity.
- The exploration: This is still a fairly linear game, but there are still some side places for you to explore. Of course, there are the ever present Power Node rooms, which hide some (very needed) health and ammo caches.
- The Upgrading: It is still the same as in the first. Hook up Power Nodes to a grid, and a gun or whatever it is you put them in will be enhanced. However, a few guns have an exclusive power up, which is pretty neat.
- The Shop: Again, largely unchanged. You find money lying around to buy stuff with, and you find Schematics to unlock new items for purchase. They say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and that applies here.
- The Kinesis Module: It has been improved from the first tremendously. It is now a viable option for combat (somewhat). It is much faster in this one. You can now stasis a guy, shoot off his limb, grab it with Kinesis, and impale him to a wall with it. It is pretty fun to play around with, but it’s no match for the guns.
- Stasis: It, too, has been improved. For one thing, it charges over time, which is good in-between skirmishes. It’s still a good idea to keep a Stasis Pack handy, though, because it refills rather slowly. Also, the enemies in this game become very tough, so, while it may not be necessary to use in the beginning of the game, it becomes essential later in the game.
- The puzzles: There is the occasional puzzle, but they aren’t really anything special. However, there is one puzzle near the end of the game that, if failed, will result in a brutal death for Isaac, and it is very memorable.
- Zero- g: The Zero gravity environments in this game have been completely reworked. Instead of bouncing from wall to wall, you have the ability to float freely about in space. This makes for some very good level design, and some intense encounters, as well. I won’t say too much more, because these sequences are very fun and should be experienced.
- The Re-vamped Suit System: Instead of just buying a new suit, you get different ones, with different abilities, and they all have a different design to them, which is a nice change of pace from the rather bland Mining Suit from the first. The way it works is that each suit gives you a different upgrade: For instance, one gives you 10% off at the store, while another adds +10% damage to the Assault Rifle. You may be thinking “Well, what about the armor and inventory? Shouldn’t you just wear the one that gives you the best armor?” The developers thought of that, and made it so you can wear any suit you want, while still retaining the best armor and number of inventory slots. (For instance, if you liked a suit that gives you a 10% defense bonus, but have a suit that gives you +20, you keep the plus 20.) This is very convenient, because it allows you to wear your favorite suit, while still getting the best defenses possible.
- The environments: The environments in this game are very different from the ones of the first game. Instead of the claustrophobic hallways of the Ishimura, the vast majority of the game takes place on a human colony, and, as such, you explore things like food courts, shops, apartments, and, in the creepiest part of the game, a preschool. There is a lot of welcome variety in the places you go through, and the environments are generally more wide open. (Don’t worry Ishimura junkies. You eventually return to the doomed ship.)
- Vacuum Windows: I couldn’t think of any other name for them. Anyways, there are certain windows in the game that can be shot out, where the vacuum of space proceeds to pull out everything in the room; furniture, Necromorphs, and you. The way you survive this is that you have to shoot a panel above the window, otherwise you will meet a truly gruesome end. This is an exciting way of taking out enemies. However, there weren’t many places I found in the game that it could be used, which is slightly disappointing.
- Set pieces: This mean prescripted, exciting events in the game. Think things like the Minecart sequence from RE4. There are many in this game, and they are all very well done and exciting. One of the standouts is flying through a tunnel while a tram car speeds violently along, dodging Necros and obstacles, where it meets an abrupt stop, and Isaac falls to the ground. Afterwards, a huge tentacle proceeds to grab him, and you must shoot your way free. There are also a few free falling sections through space, which are just as fun and exciting.:
- The "scariness": I thought the first game had an excellent atmosphere, and was very creepy, but wasn’t truly scary. This game, while still maintaining the excellent atmosphere, seems even less scary than the original. Maybe it’s because you run into many more people. Maybe it’s because we know what to expect from Dead Space (Which is the most probable answer). Whatever it is, it makes this game less creepy than its predecessor. It’s still fairly creepy, and made me jump a few times.
In review, Dead Space 2 is a worthy sequel to Dead Space. There are some improvements, and maybe a few steps back in this installment of Dead Space. It is better than the first in many regards, except for the creepiness factor. However, little tweaks make this a very fun and satisfying game to play, whether you’re a horror fan, like me, or not. I recommend this game whole heartedly, both to newcomers and veterans alike. (The game includes a “Previously on Dead Space” clip for those who didn’t play the original which is something that should be added to all sequel games.) Although, this game is definitely not for the faint of heart. Some of the gore makes the original look like an E rated game based on a cartoon. I’m not exaggerating. It is very brutal, and pulls no punches in the gore department. However, if you can stomach it, Dead Space 2 is a journey into the dark depths of the unknown well worth taking. Gamespot hit the nail on the head when they said this is the gaming equivalent of Alien and Aliens. The first was much more deliberate, and suspenseful. Dead space 2 is much more action packed. So, if you’ve come this far, thank you for reading this long review, happy gaming, and keep on fighting the scourge!
This is a great game that everyone should pick up. It is currently $59.99 at Best Buy. It is currently also as low as $28 from amazon. (see below)