This review is spoiler free
First off, if you haven’t played the first chapter of this game. I highly recommend you go do so, the game play is pretty much the same and you will get all the information about the story from it as the second game is very story driven, based around the protagonist of the original Dead Space and the events that led him to the sprawl.
The storyline for Dead Space 2 is that you once again step into the armoured boots of Isaac Clarke, the CEC engineer from the first game that became the reluctant hero on board the Ishimura.
Three years after the events of the first game, Isaac Clarke wakes up on the sprawl, a giant, dystopian city on one of Saturn’s moons. He is thrown into the thick of it from the start and the player must bypass hordes of bloodthirsty necromorphs, who are the reanimated corpses of the crew, the depravity of man as well as his own growing dementia in order to stay alive.
The gameplay in Dead Space 2 is similar to the first however it is faster paced and the majority of the scares seem somewhat cheap; Instead of filling you with fear of what could be around the next corner monsters most of the time just jump out at you, often accompanied by loud noises to make you jump. That doesn’t mean the game fails to scare, far from it, there was more than one occasion that made me cry out in shock. The environment and feel of The Sprawl was amazing in itself, the producers really nailed the dystopian, futuristic feel of the space city and I gorged myself on the beautifully detailed world that they had thrust me in to.
To get you more engaged in the story you can find a lot of journal entries and video/voice recordings to play which allows you to get more information on the people that inhabited the place, as well as see the events leading up to their final moments.
Alongside the beautifully detailed environment the graphics for the game are outstanding, boasting some incredible lighting effects which manipulate the rooms perfectly, giving you a sense of dread and terror when a shadow is cast upon a wall that is not your own. The animations look very smooth and polished and the PC game play is far superior to the first game, movement and aiming being incredibly fluid and responsive in comparison, the game generally playing faster and being a lot more intense.
Armour and Weapons
There are a total of 13 suits that can be purchased throughout the games storyline as a write this, however a few are special rewards for playing other visceral games such as ‘Dead Space: Ignition’ which was available only on PS3 and Xbox 360. Alongside the suits there are much, much more weapons in the game. One being the Javelin Gun which allows you to pin enemies the wall, then fry them with electricity with the alternative fire, and of course, Isaac’s plasma cutter making a welcomed return.
The multiplayer is a new addition to the franchise and one I believe the developers pulled off quite well. Not usually being one to play multiplayer and just stick to the single player campaign, I decided to give it a go and see what it was like.
I was pleased. Players pick from two sides, either security guards that are still alive under Hans Tiedemann (who is the overseer of The Sprawl) or the Necromorphs themselves. The security guards generally having to undertake a series of tasks while the Necromorphs hamper them by way of vicious and stealthy attacks, because of this the multiplayer game play can still be frightening and make you jump when you get attacked out of nowhere. Unlike the single player campaign you level up in multiplayer, which gives you more reason to keep playing as every couple of levels you unlock new suits, weapons and increases to damage for various weapons to give you an advantage over others. As of now there are 29 unlockables in the multiplayer, the last one being at level 59.
In conclusion I would seriously recommend this game to anybody, not just those who enjoy the horror genre. Dead Space 2 was an amazing sequel which delivered an abundance of scares, beautiful graphics, intense game play and a rich and interesting storyline that left me wanting more. The replay value of the game is high due to the multiplayer as well as the ‘Newgame+’ mode which allows you to start the game again at a harder difficultly but keep all the weapons, armour and upgrades of your previous game completion.
Reviewed by Jason
Dead Space 2 picks up 3 years after the first with Isaac in a mental institution being questioned and experimented on and after a quite creepy intro we’re launched in to the game where they waste no time ratcheting up with the tension with a start where you’re thrust straight in to the action with no weapons and no way of defending yourself. This section shows off how much they’ve improved everything from graphics and sound to the scares in this game. The graphical improvements don’t necessarily jump out at you but there’s certainly some nice graphical touches, such as the hints of grey in Isaac’s hair and the close ups and shadows being less jaggy.
The setting is much more interesting, The Sprawl a city on one of Saturn’s moons which means there’s a wider range of environments with the dark and dingy stuff from the first being only a part of the game, there’s everything from wide vistas through windows and everything from a shopping centre to a church as well as the more industrial settings of the first. It’s much more visually interesting. The sound design also stands out with drip drip dripping of water and/or blood, and the click clack of changing ammo. Not to mention the squelching sounds and the dull empty sound when there’s no air.
I have to say there are some cheap scares in there but I think it’s a credit to the game that it can draw you in enough that the cheap scares work as well as they do. They’ve also given Isaac a voice in this game, so you feel much more connected with the characters and the performances in the voice acting are good, it also means the story is better told than it was in the first because you’re not just stuck being told what to do by someone else on the end of a comm, your character actually gets to talk and be a part of the story, occasionally being left on his own with no hope in sight and no goal to get to, although there is still a lot of the “Go to here and fix that” structure in there it is more varied at least.
Also the chapters don’t break down the way they did in the first, you don’t get on a tram and know that’s the end of the chapter because a loading screen comes up and tells you so. There’s none of that here. You just wander around and occasionally “Chapter two” etc. will come up. So it flows in a much more interesting way.
While I like the game and think it’s overall improved a lot from the first, the difficulty curve is practically non-existent, at least on the Normal setting. It does slowly get more difficult but it doesn’t feel difficult for the most part it just seems that all of a sudden the difficulty spikes for a set piece or a small boss battle then peters off back to being fairly easy. So at times the difficulty will drive you mad, but only for a short time. To me this just seems like a cheap way to lengthen game time because it means you playing the same bit over numerous times just to get past one sticky part, which I have to admit has made me switch off in annoyance on more than one occasion. Despite this I keep coming back and really like the game.
Though there is a new online multiplayer mode I have yet to try it so can’t comment on that. There’s also a “New Game +” mode that allows you to replay the game from the start with the things you collected from the first go through and a “Hard core” mode which gives you very little health and ammo, no checkpoints and you’re limited to 3 saves throughout the game, which should be a good challenge even for the most hardened gamers out there. Also, as this is the PS3 Special Edition version I’m reviewing, it comes with a copy of Dead Space Extraction, the previously Wii exclusive prequel to the original Dead Space. Which is a good game in it’s own right and well worth the extra quid or two you may pay for the special edition.
In my opinion the game is well worth playing if you like the first then them improvements should mean you like this one even more, but if you didn’t like it then I don’t think enough has changed to make it worth your while.
Reviewed by Kev