Dead Space 2 is a survival horror game that continues the tale of Isaac Clarke. The necromorphs are back and Isaac may hold the key to ending them. As with the original, does developer Visceral Games keep the things that go bump in the night worth investigating? Um, you go first, I'll be right behind you.
It's been three years since the events of Dead Space and Isaac Clarke has been under sedation in a mental asylum since being rescued. Franco Delile, from Dead Space Ignition, is attempting to set Isaac free, but before he can get Isaac's straight jacket off he is attacked by an infector and turned into a necromorph. Left with no alternative but to run, Isaac flees. Eventually he finds a person to help him out of the straight jacket. Shortly after his escape, Isaac is contacted by a woman named Daina, who says she can cure Isaac and help him stop the necromorphs, and a man named Nolan Stross, who tells him that only he and Isaac can destroy the Marker that is causing all the chaos. Isaac chooses to ignore Stross, believing that Stross is just another mentally disturbed inmate, and makes his way to Daina.
Since I really don't want to spoil any of the twists I will leave it right there. I will say the story is well told, involves more visions of Isaac's dead girlfriend from the first game, and a closer look at the Church of Unitology.
Controls and Gameplay
Dead Space 2 is a survival horror game played in the third person perspective. The players view is an over the shoulder look at the action. Unlike some games that use this view point, Dead Space 2 manages to not obscure the field of vision with Isaac's body. The action for the most part take place in the good viewable space.
Dead Space 2 again uses the "no heads up display" that they introduced in Dead Space. Having Isaac's health, his ammo count and stasis charges integrated into his suit and weapon, gives a cinematic feel to the game.
Another unusual gameplay element, brought over from the first game, is the need to dismember the necromorphs. Unlike most shooters, where a body shot can sometimes count as a kill, you have to take out the "arms" and "legs" of the necromorphs in order to kill them, otherwise they just keep coming. This aspect really challenges you as a player because we are so used to just shooting at any part of the bad guys, now it takes a little longer to really aim for the shots that count.
Dead Space 2 also introduces a multiplayer element where it pits two teams of four against each other. In a cool twist one team are humans and the other are necromorphs. The humans are tasked with an objective and the necromorphs must prevent them from accomplishing it.
Graphics and Sound
Dead Space 2's graphic style is the same as Dead Space, dark and creepy. The necromophs still remind me of the beasts from John Carpenter's The Thing. I did have one weird graphical hiccup happen when I entered an elevator with a necromorph claw held in kinetic mode. When I reached the top floor the walls suddenly became invisible and I could see the room I had been in before. It happened only once and It didn't hurt the game, it was just weird.
Sound on Dead Space 2 really helped play into setting the horror mood with strange sounds in the distance and subtle changes in music, it really kept the tension up. The voice cast did a great job, in addition to providing the voices they each also provided their likenesses for their characters. One surprise is that in this game Isaac has a voice this time around, not silent like he was in Dead Space.
Like a good horror movie, survival horror games appeal to me. Dead Space 2 again takes its cues from various horror movies in a way where you never really knew when something was going to jump out at you. At one point I felt that elevators were safe from necromorphs and about that time one appeared inside when I opened the elevator doors.
Something that I found to be a bit annoying was after you killed a necromorph, it's parts still littered the floor and would sometimes seem to get stuck on Isaac as he moved around. It would always take me out of the moment when that happened. I understand why they kept that parts around, so you could use them as weapons with the kinetic power, but there has to be a way of keeping them out of the players way.
Creepy, a good story , and good action with only a few minor problems, Dead Space 2 earns a 4.5 out of 5.
Dead Space 2 is rated M for Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, and Strong Language. It is available now for Windows PC, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3.
You can see more at the Dead Space web site.