When we first discussed the creation of this blog I thought to myself, what game should I start with? Dead Space 2 was sitting on my shelf, waiting to be played despite me buying it as soon as it came out back at the start of 2011. I remembered how much I shat myself at the original, and felt that such a series deserves to be reviewed early on.
When the original Dead Space was released, gamers experienced something new and exciting, as well as dark and haunting. Checking every corner and dark spot, as well as checking every dead body bundled on the floor, you couldn’t help but feel aboard the Ishimura and that you were Isaac Clarke. So what’s new in Dead Space 2? As with all sequels, the introduction of different types of enemies is expected, and Visceral outdid themselves in this department. New additions include the “Stalkers”, These big bony doglike necromorphs pop their head up randomly in packs, making you scared to even turn a corner in case one decides to storm towards you. The Crawlers are also disturbing. Baby necromorphs with explosive backs may not sound like much, but when they start crawling out of every small hole in a room, you soon run in circles trying to cover every angle without wasting precious ammo. For me, the introduction of the Crawlers is nothing short of amazing. As you stumble your way through a bloody nursery, you see a woman sitting in a glassed off room reaching out for this cute little baby then … well, you’ll see.
The storyline is, yet again, amazing. Both Dead Space and Dead Space 2 had me on the edge of my seat wanting to play more and explore every inch of the story. The continuation with Nicole is simply brilliant, with me being totally shocked by the ending of the original Dead Space, and forcing me to hide in a corner every time she popped up on the screen in case any necromorphs appeared. The effects of the original are clearly carried on throughout this sequel. In fact, seeing Isaac being worn down and driven to insanity by his guilt makes the game all the better to play, as you want to know what’s going on behind that big blue mask. The addition of Stross, who appears to be struggling with the same mental issues as Isaac, gives a good contrast to the main character, allowing players to notice emotional changes in Isaac that may have otherwise not been recognised. Much of this new game may seem to have been repeated from the original however, in terms of you going place to place throughout the ship (or in this case, space city) completing the necessary tasks for your escape. The amount of logs in the game provides a huge, and highly detailed, back story and although some pieces are not vital to the main story-line they really help to give a better understanding to the events and the people involved. I cannot think of a better start to a game than Dead Space 2. There’s no mucking about, no slowly putting you back into the story, straight away, you’re on your own, and running for your life.
Dead Space 2 is spread across two discs, due to the huge nature of the game and its settings, noticeable when on the rare occasion you see the outside of the colony. The graphics and engine of the game are most impressive, and really strike you, for example, on the Solar array scene. Noticeable detail has been put into the space setting, especially when you’re plummeting back to the station with Saturn and Titan in the background and the thousands of stars surrounding you. You can’t help but take your eyes away from the oncoming objects now and then (and risking death whilst doing so) and focusing on the immense scale and detail of the game.
The weapons and powers in the game remain relatively the same. There’s no change to the kinesis and stasis modules, both are needed for certain points of the game as in the first entry to the series, and both are useful at certain points when facing the enemy. The primary weapon is once again the Plasma Cutter (with the protagonist being an engineer you hardly expect him to have a machine gun at the start), and the effectiveness of the cutter often outweighs the other weapons. Certain weapons, obviously, are better for certain types of necromorph, yet you rarely have the time to spot what type it is and change weapon accordingly. One thing I feel I must point out is that I often felt rather than trying different weapons, I’d stick to the ones I knew. For example I rarely used the detonator gun (shoots mines), or the seeker rifle (a sniper effectively), Force Gun (a AoE, area of effect, weapon) due to them seeming rather impractical and a waste of one of my four weapons slots. However, Visceral and EA have announced that Dead Space 3 will introduce the capability of merging two different weapons together, which could well improve the practicality of weapons such as the Force gun and perhaps even the Detonator.
Despite not being a huge fan of the Horror genre of game, there is something about the Dead Space franchise that always keeps me coming back for more. The story of the characters always keeps my interest and, what with the huge amount of logs around, you’ll always learn something new, even on your second and third playthrough. The 5 difficulties also contribute to bringing you back for more wth the ammunition and health becoming ever more scarce on the harder difficulties, you really spend hours on each playthrough, figuring out how to do different parts with what limited ammunition and health you have. With the ending of Dead Space 2, I just cannot wait for Dead Space 3 and hope for more unexpected twists and turns with the odd unnecessarily sick scene, such as the infamous eye poke machine.