Dead Space 2 Review

Platform: PS3/360/PC
Originally Reviewed: 2011

There’s one really noticeable problem with Dead Space 2 that I’m sure almost everyone who plays it will realise. Play for 15-20 minutes, especially for the first half of the game, and you’ll have had all you can handle. The reason, of course, is because Dead Space 2 really is that scary. It’s sheer testament to how superbly well paced the game is that there is very little breathing time at any point, leaving you no option but to switch off the console, turn the lights back on and calm yourself down.

But Dead Space 2 is more than just scares. It features some truly innovative (holding off Necromorphs while hanging upside down from a train, anyone?) and utterly explosive action set pieces. It’s the combination of nail-shredding terror and gut-busting action that Dead Space 2 gets so right that makes survival horror staples like Resident Evil, itself now much more shifted towards the action genre, look distinctly last-gen.

Dead Space 2 is not only a great game in its own right, but as a sequel it ranks among the greatest of this generation of great sequels. It takes the near perfect formula of the first game and improves on almost everything. The scares are more frequent, the setting is more varied, and the action is more ambitious. Not to mention the host of new weapons, the new jetpack-like flying sections and the introduction of a voice for our main protagonist Isaac Clarke.

Isaac’s new found, and reasonably well acted, voice helps the story flow a lot better too. The story itself sees Isaac awoken in hospital on the Sprawl – a metropolis built on one of Saturn’s moons – to find himself in amongst yet another Necromorph infestation. With no memory of the three years that have passed since the first game, Isaac is told that he is responsible for building a replica of the original game’s Marker that has not only caused said infestation, but fills Isaac’s head with horrifying visions of his deceased girlfriend Nicole. Naturally, he sets out to destroy it.

The setting of the Sprawl is a huge improvement on the dank and repetitive corridors of the mining ship Ishimura from the original. The action now takes place in hospitals (in one of the most exhilarating opening acts ever seen in gaming), shopping districts, nursery schools and sports gyms as well as the usual zero-g escapades in space itself, all of which are presented superbly by the games top notch graphics.

The sequel also takes the player on the obligatory ‘trip down memory lane’ by re-visiting the Ishimura and this provides one of the best examples of the Dead Space 2’s ability to scare the player through sheer dread as well as the usual jumps and shocks.

The psychological scares are excellently provided through the game’s brilliant use of sound and lighting. Objects fall off shelves creating loud crashes, lights flicker and go out shrouding you in darkness, and steam valves randomly go off in your face. Dead Space 2 never lets up on the scares even when there are no Necromorphs around. It’s the anxiety built up by the game simply messing with you that keeps you on edge throughout. The aforementioned Ishimura section is a prime example of this – keeping you waiting through all the mind games for that inevitable wave of attack. This is immersive horror at its absolute peak.

It’s a shame, then, that the end of the game seems to dial down these brilliant aspects and switches to an all out Necromorph onslaught – spewing room after room of enemies at you, much like the end of the original did. Luckily the excellent array of brutal weapons ensures the end of the game is still exhilarating, and slicing up enemies never gets boring. The final few chapters also introduce (although it’s also in the first game) the idea of un-killable enemies that keeps the pulse racing to the, somewhat disappointing, climax.

The game offers so much more that cannot be done justice by simply talking about it – it really has to be experienced. The new zero-g flying sections are a great addition and some of the new enemies add even more terror to make you edge all the more slowly round every corner. Dead Space 2 does so much right and so very little wrong, providing one of the most exciting, frightening and downright brilliant games of this generation and is easily the early front runner for game of the year.

 Alex Aldridge

GRAPHICS

A truly stunning game with tons of gore and an epic sense of scale. Character models and Necromorphs looks phenomenal and the game never lags or slows with multiple enemies on screen.

9/10

GAMEPLAY

A perfect example of how to mix pant-soiling horror and balls-out action – this is how survival horror is meant to be. The finest example in its genre.

10/10

STORY

Helped a lot by a now non-mute protagonist, the hallucination scenes and confrontations with Isaac’s girl frequently disturb. Nicole also provides some classic Alyx Vance style companionship towards the second half.

8/10

REPLAYABILITY

You’ll definitely want to re-visit this game to fully upgrade your weapons and suits, and the addition of multiplayer definitely adds to long term play. However the lastability is ultimately spoiled by an impossible game mode that will frustrate completionists.

7/10

VALUE FOR MONEY AT

Get it while it’s hot; it’s the best game to come out this year so far and the multiplayer probably won’t stick around too long in the face of new games and certain map packs.

£40

OVERALL

Stunning. One of the scariest, and quite probably best, survival horror games ever made. Simply put – this is how it’s done.

9/10

AMAZING

 

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