Dead Space 2 Author: T_H_Schafer -- Posted: 2011-03-01
Developer: Visceral Games
Platform: PC (Reviewed), XBox 360, PS3
The original Dead Space impressed me immensely. Its intense atmosphere, unique weapons and interesting gunplay was all wrapped up in a package drenched in polish. That being said, Dead Space wasn't perfect. The scares leaned toward the cheap jump-in-your-face variety and eventually wore thin, the story seemed lacking and there were few enemy types. However, there was little, if anything, actually wrong with the game. Everything it did it did masterfully, it just needed to do more of it. When Dead Space 2 was announced I was equally excited and skeptical. I wasn't sure that the team would be able to craft another excellent single player campaign while also included an online multiplayer component. Even after spending a short time with Dead Space 2 I was easily able to put those fears to rest, at least the fear that Dead Space 2 wouldn't live up to my expectations. My somewhat diminished fear of the hordes of necromorphs and the Ishimura, the original setting of Dead Space, those fears would eventually reemerge.
If you didn't complete the original game, this one has your back. Before starting up the new campaign you can watch a not too brief summation of the prior storyline giving you a good idea of what happened beforehand. I recommend it as a refresher even if you did play the original. If you have played the previous game, you'll quickly notice the lead character Isaac Clarke's new set of pipes. After sitting mute through the entire first game he opens up and voices his concerns, and it works out pretty well. His character, while still thoroughly bad ass, is much more revealing this time around. Instead of projecting yourself on a character cut out, this time you'll begin to understand Isaac as a character, see him as human and even feel for him. I mean, he is trudging through a horror story for the second time, coping with the death of his significant other while being mercilessly hunted by unthinkably horrifying creatures for the second time in a row. It might not take much to feel for the guy but even him simply saying, "Oh, shit" goes a long way. The overall story is much improved as well due to the star actually having lines, and the introduction of other living characters gives him something to lose.
The scare factor in Dead Space 2 is akin to the original. It does rely on some cheap jumps from time to time, and after an extended play through, the enemies ironically become less scary than the hallways and rooms leading up to them. There are a few notable additions to team necromorph, and they're certainly welcome additions. Each enemy presents a different method of dismemberment that you must act out in order to be victorious. Some are tiny and take a weapon like the flame thrower to tame, others will become more dangerous depending on how you execute your surgical separations. Usually the head lends little to the enemy's ability to remove a part of you that you really really needed. Add in a couple new weapons and Dead Space 2 offers much more variation to combat. My personal favorite is the proximity mine launcher which allow you to lock down a small area, mostly because it makes you feel a little safe. There seems to be more of a focus on making the player use different weapons this time too. The different enemies and spattering of differing ammo types ensure that you won't be able to progress through the game with one trusty weapon.
The graphics received a bit of an overhaul. While the original still looks gorgeous, at least I think so, Dead Space 2 is one of the most impressive looking games I've played in a while. Some of that is due to the different environments. While the original had quite a few similar looking corridors, Dead Space 2 has a lot more interesting locations. There are places that seemed to be made just to give the player pause and some eye candy to gawk at. The lighting is always spot on and sometimes striking.
The multiplayer is a bit of a different story. While not bad in any sense, it's simply kind of meh. The time I spent with it was enjoyable, but it definitely won't become a staple for me any time soon. Playing as the Isaac's, teamwork is essential. The necromorphs can attack from almost anywhere and they've got numbers on their side. If you choose to play that side, teamwork can definitely help, but I found it easy to use teamwork when all you've got to do is attack attack attack. The Isaac's (They aren't all Isaac, but whatever) have to trigger switches or gather objects to assemble stuff, it really just comes down to one guy is gonna have his hands full and the team has to back him up. The multiplayer is a nice addition, but isn't something that I see people going crazy over.
In the end, Dead Space 2 improves in the places the original seemed lacking. The story is more detailed, the environments, enemies and weapons are more varied and the addition of multiplayer, though not spectacular, is just some icing on the cake. There are set pieces in Dead Space 2 that wowed me and every step of the way I remained engrossed. The pacing is incredible, it'll throw you off a cliff and keep the ground coming. If you loved the original you'll love this one, if you didn't love it this one probably won't change your mind but I'd say it's worth a shot.