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Dead Space 2 Review

Dead Space 2 pack shot
Developer:Visceral Games
Publisher:Electronic Arts
Genre:Sci-fi horror
Platform:Playstation 3
Official Site:http://www.deadspacegame.com/
Release Date:January 28th, 2011 (UK)
Reviewer:Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
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"We're all going to burn for what we did to you, Isaac." These 12 words stayed with me as I wandered the halls and homes of Dead Space 2, fighting off a seemingly never-ending wave of horrible, slavering beasties who want only to eat. my. face.

Yes, it's Dead Space 2, the follow-up to the highly acclaimed Dead Space - a gritty, terrifying sci-fi horror that had me hooked from start to finish.

I'm not going to spoil the plot for those of you who haven't yet battled your way across the planet-cracker class starship Ishimura, but I'd recommend buying the first game before you play this one. Helps make sense of the insanity you're going to find this time around.

It's been three years since the Ishimura incident, and Concordance Extraction engineer Isaac Clarke awakes to find himself a virtual prisoner on 'the Sprawl', a massive space station built on a shard of Titan, Saturn's largest moon.

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Pretty soon things go to Hell in a hand-basket, as a new infestation of Necromorphs - hideous, deformed creatures made out of the corpses of the dead - have run wild through the Sprawl, killing everything in sight and reducing what was once the pride and joy of humanity's space-going fleet to a wrecked husk, slowly dying in the depths of space.

So Isaac, whose unusual military skills (for an engineer) and experiences on the Ishimura will come in somewhat handy once again, as he unravels where the infestation came from and chops the limbs of thousands and thousands of crawling, jumping, screaming, thumping, exploding and sprinting beasties.

Dead Space 2's plot is far more fleshed out than its predecessor, and is finally led by a character who has a voice. Yes, this time around Isaac has a lot to say, and the voice acting is particularly good - whether it be his screams as he's disembowelled by a pressure door, or a few quiet moments with some of the more interesting characters that pop up along the way.

Of course, the plot is also made all the more interesting by the fact that Isaac is clinically insane. Yes, it seems the Ishimura incident has left something of a mark on the engineer, and as well as fighting off waves of Necromorphs poor Isaac is constantly berated by the memory of his girlfriend's death on the doomed ship - and other horrifying events which I won't cover here.

However, while the plot gets off to a rip-roaring start it tails off about three or four hours in, with the objectives becoming as boring and predictable as the previous game's. Take, for example, the objective of getting to a different sector of the Sprawl - you'd take the tram, right? Doesn't work. So you fix the tram, only to find something's blocking the way. Move that, and there's no power to move the tram... and so on.

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Apart from that the plot is a great adventure, and offers a real insight into the Dead Space universe. At one point Isaac finds himself in a Scientology… oh, sorry, "Unitology" church, and the player gets some in-depth information about this most shadowy of organisations.

Thankfully, unlike the previous game, Dead Space 2 is an adventure which takes in a variety of environments, from the mining sector, which is all flames and machinery, to a school (complete with toddler Necromorphs who attack in packs), to a housing sector filled with bloodstained sheets, to the sparking power grids of the orbital solar arrays.

Zero-g has also had something of an overhaul, as Isaac can now hover in space, using his suit's thrusters to jet about - something you learn to do quickly when facing the Necros who infest the areas.

There are a few nice bits that find you solving puzzles in zero-g, with the added pressure of your rapidly draining oxygen, frequent disorientation and the only sound being that of Isaac's grunting, screams and heavy breathing. It's as eerie as it was in Dead Space, and is still just as terrifying.

And that's my main problem with Dead Space 2 - it doesn't really do anything new. The majority of game is just Isaac tramping from pillar to post, completing objectives and killing Necromorphs by dismembering them (this being the ideal way to keep their pointy limbs out of harm's way).

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Not that this is a bad thing. The action is just as intense and gory as usual, and while the game's traditional weapons - the leg-slicing line gun, plasma cutter and ripper - make a welcome return, a variety of new weapons keep the action rolling. I'm a particular advocate of the javelin launcher - an odd weapon which fires a solid metal javelin capable of spearing enemies to walls - and then electrocuting them.

There's also a huge variety of horrid creatures to battle, including a few really creepy critters - 'stalkers' which act in a pack, sprinting at you and squealing, deformed explosive babies, horrid, belching monsters who love spitting at you, and of course a huge number of set-piece bosses who take a lot of time (and repeated deaths) to best.

But, all this new content aside, the singleplayer campaign is still predictable. Some of the scares can be spotted a mile off, and though the storyline has a good 10-12 hours in it, it's all rather similar and familiar. The same cannot be said of the newly-added multiplayer, however, which is a total blast.

Pitting a team of humans against playable Necromorphs, the multiplayer contingent is a tense, gritty battle for the humans to complete a series of objectives, as the Necromosphs respawn over and over, and try to overwhelm them.

Each of the humans plays exactly the same as Isaac has since Dead Space - an over-the-shoulder view with health and powerful 'stasis' (time slowing) and kinesis (telekinesis - ideal for hurling sharp objects at the enemy) displayed on the character rather than through menus.

Playing as a Necro is great fun, as you can chose exactly where to spawn, and have a variety of beasties to appear as, be it long-ranged or crawl-up-and-kill. Teamwork becomes essential in this mode, as surviving is as much a case of watching each other's backs as it is killing the enemy.

Thankfully, the great musical score, graphics and sound-effects from the singleplayer are carried across to both modes, and the game looks brilliant in HD. Occasionally it can be too dark to see much, and the game becomes incredibly tense, as Isaac casts his flashlight about in the darkness - and at others it can be plain annoying as you try to find your way out of a Necromorph infested area.

But, these minor niggles aside, Dead Space 2 is a great slice of sci-fi horror action, and well worth your time and money.

Summary

This game is bound to scare the pants off you several times, and the decent plot, great gameplay and surprisingly fun multiplayer will keep you coming back for more. The replay value is also high, as there are a variety of new suits and weapons for Isaac to find and buy at the in-game stores, and the singleplayer adventure, though familiar, is still amazingly good, wholesome, blood-drenched fun. Go buy it now.

The bottom line
9.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Good, lengthy plot
  • Great sound and graphics
  • Thrilling multiplayer

Not so good stuff

  • Predictable scares
  • Familiar gameplay with little added
  • Plot's slow section drags on and on


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