Dead Space 2 has a great story.  Dead Space 2 has amazing graphics.  Dead Space 2 will scare the shit out of you. It’s a thrill ride from start to finish.   The pacing is quick, it never slows down, and luckily there’s no backtracking like in the first game.  Sequences flow from one to the next without any lag and you’ll be hard pressed to put it down.

Dead Space 2 picks up three years after the end of the first game, and after a short intro video that catches you up on the events of the last game, you’re dropped right into the middle of the action. The first thing you do, as the player, is run.  Isaac doesn’t know where he is, or what’s been going on for the last three years, and neither does the player. You’ll have to piece that together as you play the game, and work to destroy the Marker that’s started this whole disaster.  The whole time, Isaac’s mind is falling apart and you’ll be sucked into Isaac’s delusions.  This gives an interesting story mechanic and Isaac’s internal struggle is one of the most interesting parts of the game.

Zombie kids are creepy...

Controlling Isaac is a little easier than in the first Dead Space. Of course, Isaac still feels a little like a tank, but that’s by design as in many horror games. Telekinesis seems to have been reworked a little as well, as it’s now easier to grab a spike from the floor and run it through an enemy with deadly accuracy. In Zero-G environments, Isaac is no longer restricted to jumping from surface to surface. Instead, you have the ability to float freely and navigate in three dimensions.  This opens up a lot of possibilities, and of course makes those sequences all the more terrifying.  The ability to blow out windows and suck necromorphs into the vacuum of space is exhilarating, especially since you’ll then have to seal the hole quickly or there’s a good chance you’ll be sucked out as well.

The visuals in Dead Space 2 are stunning. The detail in the environments is beautiful. More so, however, is the openness of the Sprawl.  While the original game confined you to tight corridors and the occasional open space, Dead Space 2 provides many vistas of cityscapes – complete with flying cars. There are many more open environments, and some of the Zero-G sequences are breathtaking.  Dynamic lighting really helps add to the atmosphere. Audio work is also top-notch, lending the perfect aura to each level. You’ll often have to rely solely on audio cues to know where enemies are when you’re in the dark and confused. Voice acting also is well-done, and helps you grow attached to each of the different characters. Oh, and did I mention that you get to see Isaac’s face in this game?  It’s about time.

Of course, Dead Space 2 is full of disturbing imagery. From necromorph babies killing their parents, to graphic dismemberment while you’re helpless to assist, to Nicole’s haunting visage showing up seemingly everywhere, the game is very good at getting under your skin. The necromorphs themselves are terrifying, and there are quite a few more of them this time around. There’s the Puker, who (you guessed it) spews toxic bile on you. The Pack is a group of children that, while fairly easy to dispatch in small groups, can easily overwhelm you in the large numbers they appear in. Of course, there are others, but I’ll let you discover those on your own.  Just know, they are all terrifying to behold.

Some of the backdrops are stunning

Dead Space 2 isn’t without its faults. While the story is engaging, it seems like all the missions turn into a ‘go here, do this’ scenario.  Getting there will be action-packed, but in the end you’re just running errands the entire time.  It seems when you do actually get where you’re going, there’s always something that happens and sends you off on another errand. While this doesn’t detract significantly from the story, it would be nice to have a little more variety to what you’re doing.  Quite frankly, this may be the only thing stopping the single player experience of Dead Space 2 from being downright perfect.

Another sore spot is the multiplayer aspect of the game. While it’s somewhat entertaining, there’s really nothing unique about it.  The player classes seem bland, the game types are generic, and the leveling system is a bit shallow. Don’t get me wrong, the whole thing works. I had no issues whatever with lag, and it’s fun to jump out at players as a necromorph. It’s just that it all feels like it’s been done before, and done better at that. It reminds me a lot of Left 4 Dead, but without the interesting environments or characters.

In the end, Dead Space 2 has a lot going for it. It’s action-packed, scary as hell, and beautiful to look at. After playing for an hour or two, you’ll most likely want to sleep with the lights on. While it’s not perfect, Visceral has brought the experience we all hoped for, and made a game that holds up to the hype.  Any fan of survival/horror needs to play this game.

Here’s The Rundown:

+ Amazing Visuals

+ Action-packed gameplay

+ Scares the shit out of you

- Multiplayer is somewhat bland

- Missions never really deviate from the errand boy variety

Dead Space 2 was developed by Visceral games and published by Electronic Arts.  It was released on January 25th, 2011 on Xbox360 and PS3 for the price of S59.99USD.  The game was played to completion on normal difficulty and several hours were then put into multiplayer.  A copy of the game was purchased for review because EA didn’t think we were cool enough to send us a copy.  Brandon had to buy six new pairs of underwear during the course of the game.