Dead Space 2 is of course the sequel to the acclaimed horror FPS and follows the same lonely hero Isaac Clarke. Now being a sequel and with the first one gaining so much praise, Dead Space 2 had a lot to live up to. Sequels following the same continuity tend on average like movies to fall a tad short. However this is not one of those sad stories.
We find our hero three years later on a space station. He has no recollection of these past three years, he is in a straight jacket and shit immediately hits the fan of the kind he thought he was done with. Well it seem’s a new marker was made and well as per usual, everyone goes nuts and your smack dab in the middle of it.
Now I half expected them to go this route with the marker so it was no particular suprise. Being in the action right from the start was also very good. Your immediately running for your life in the dark. The pacing is very well done. You have occasionally calm moments but then followed by heart pounding run in’s with the necromorphs. The story progresses quite well and overall it’s not that bad. It continues things nicely however I would have preferred more and I will get to this in a bit.
Throughout most of the game your within the confines of the station but suddenly your miracle to escape this hell is by heading to your ship you thought was destroyed. So you end up retreading through a portion of areas you already have been through. Now there are some visual changes to the areas to reflect the ship being repaired / cleaned / investigated. But still though I would have preffered not going that route as it had a very been there, done that vibe to it. So while most of the game felt fresh in a sense with new locations it just damperred the positive just a bit.
Also you learn that a group of religious zealots called Unitologists are wanting markers created to bring about a foretold event called convergence. This was pretty interesting but in the end did not really go anywhere. It was a bit dissapointing as another good part of the game was exploring their church.
And like the previous game you will meet an NPC or two, receive cryptic messages and find lots of audio logs. I think the NPC are used in a similar matter as Dead Space. They work for being there at appropriate moments however they come off as being wooden characters and fillers for your needs to get the story going where it has to go.
Gameplay wise, Dead Space 2is so much better then it’s predecessor. In the first Dead Space I found Isaac’s movements to be clunky, however now he moves much more smoother in his suit. Also in zero gravity areas you have full movement via thrusters adding much more flexibility to getting around. These are huge improvements on their own. More emphasis however is put on using your stasis on necromorphs. In fact at times if you don’t, you will simply die.
Dead Space 2 can be a difficult game at times. It’s sometimes doesn’t seem to have it’s balance firmly in place. While it encourages at times to find alternatives to wasting your ammunition at some times it is just inevitable to use them. Partcilarly annoying at times is swarms of monsters. You can simply be outnumbered and even when using your stasis you can deal with a few at a time. This can lead to some frustrating moments in the game as you simply want to get things going again.
The necromorphs are mostly the same as before with perhaps three new ones. Again this is a bit dissapointing as it would have been nice to see more varied mutations of people. At some points you just feel as though you are seeing the same monster over and over. Though I must confess that the small mutant babies are totally fucked up and creepy. They are scary, baby sounds and all.
Speaking of scary, the atmosphere in Dead Space 2is very well done overall. You will be scarred no doubt while playing in the dark. Shadows are played off very well for dramatic creepiness. I think after the mid point of the game the creepiness tends to wear off. But there are some scenes which are so very well done. However speaking of horror asa genre I find sometimes while they use subtle elements which work very well they sometimes tend to slide towards a shock horror type of genre where they try to gross you out with the worst possible deaths. Take for instance how Isaac dies. Sometimes every limb will get torn off, he will scream, then his head will be ripped off and blood gushing everywhere. While your thinking oh crap I died, they take extra time to amplify how he does. I don’t think that the shock horror they try to use is effective. I prefer moments like walking in a thinly light hallway hearing twinkle twinkle little star. That is scary. Some other scenes as well are shock value oriented and in my opinion takes away from what is going on.
Overall Dead Space 2 delivers on being an excellent game. The gameplay is so much more better, the story is very good as well however I think horror wise they need to find their voice. They don’t seem to know what direction they want to go in and being a horror game it is hard. People has varried tastes but you need to find what works best for your audience and this specific game. While you might find at times the game a bit dull especially retreading old stomping grounds, you will get a lot of enjoyment out of it. In all, I highly recommend giving this game a whirl.