Developed By: Visceral Games
Published By: Electronic Arts
Reviewed by Firedancer34
Facts and Stats:
Dead Space 2 is the sequel to the survival horror third person shooter game Dead Space. Dead Space 2 was released on January 25, 2011 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. The campaign is single player only. However, unlike it’s predecessor, Dead Space 2 also contains multiplayer matches with a variety of maps and challenges to complete. This game was also rated M for its language, intense graphic violence and images, blood, and gore. The game received high marks from the majority of the gaming community upon its release, and many felt it was an outstanding follow-up to the first game which had set the bar for the franchise.
As they did with the Dead Space, Visceral decided to go with some Marketing ploys to help build anticipation for Dead Space 2 that were not quite so savvy. With the original game's release they made the claim that the game had been banned in several countries - even though it hadn’t - to hype the violence factor. With Dead Space 2, Visceral and EA compiled some of the game’s most violent, scary, disturbing and gory moments and then brought in two hundred conservative mothers to watch the clips to ‘get their opinions of the game’. Their reactions were recorded and then used in an advertising campaign called “Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2” to once again hype the gore and violence of the game.
Visceral, EA, and Sumo Digital released on October 12, 2010 the mini game of Dead Space: Ignition which sets the stage of events that happened between the first and second Dead Space games.
The story picks up three years after events on the USG Ishimura. Isaac Clarke, who was the quiet protagonist of the first game, has survived the horrors he went through, but was unfortunately effected by the emotional trauma he experienced along with suffering from exposure to the Marker. The opening cinematic clips reveal that Isaac has been taken to the Sprawl, which is a massive station that was built on one of the shards of Saturn’s moon Titan. There he is supposedly receiving treatment for his psychological breakdown and we, the player, see flashes of insight into this. Suddenly Isaac wakes up to find the Sprawl overrun by Necromorphs and despite being helplessly bound in a straightjacket, you as Isaac, must make a desperate run for your life.
On the outset the story seems a lot like the first: Somehow a Marker has gotten aboard the Sprawl and thus the emergence of the Necromorphs. As Isaac you need to battle your way through the hordes of Necro’s in order to destroy this new Marker and then role credits. But the game is far from being that simple. Unlike the first game where Isaac was mostly silent, we are immersed into his life as he struggles to retain what is left of his sanity long enough to figure out just what the heck is going on. Where did this new Marker come from? Why are all these different people after him? What kind of ‘help and tests’ have they been subjecting him to over the last three years? And will he be able to keep it together long enough to accomplish the task at hand?
Finding an answer to one question only brings up several more in its place. Dead Space 2 is filled with numerous subplots that keep the player absorbed and on their toes. After you have managed to destroy the Marker and after the credits role, it is of interest to note that there is a brief cut-scene that thickens the plot and leaves the door open for future installments to the franchise. Looks like Visceral isn’t done with poor Isaac yet.
Gameplay in Dead Space 2 is much the same as the original game with a few modifications that are of note. Like the first game, Dead Space 2 is also linear, but without all the backtracking that happened in the first game. While I didn’t mind it so much in the first game, it is of note that sometimes it was a bit tedious and when running for your life could lead to moments of confusion and becoming disoriented. Once again there is no HUD display and any attempt to pull up your menu had best be done carefully as gameplay continues and can leave you vulnerable to attack. Also familiar, will be the stores and workbenches where items can be purchased, sold, or stored and weapons and equipment can be upgraded.
One thing of note is that in the first game a suit could be fully upgraded by the end of the game. In Dead Space 2, a player finds their suits maxed out for each play through. Upon completion of a play through, the next level of suits are unlocked, thus enticing players to play the game through more than once. It is also of note that DS2 has five levels of gameplay, the fifth one being unlocked after a play through on any of the other levels. What makes this stand apart from other games however is that once the Hardcore difficulty is unlocked, a player is then informed of the fact that they can only save a total of three times throughout the whole game and any deaths will result in reverting back to the last save.
Isaac is once more armed with the familiar ‘weapons’ of the first game with some fun new additions amongst the arsenal which prove to be handy in a number of situations. There are of course additions to the Necromorphs…a few of them very disturbing and one in particular that you come to loathe within moments of being introduced to it. A nice twist to the game is that because Isaac is fighting his own mind at times, there are moments when you think you are fighting off an enemy and only a quick response on your part will help you overcome the ‘enemy’ to find out you were fighting yourself. Nice touch Visceral.
If you read my first review you will know how much I enjoyed that game…despite having nightmares after playing it. As I watched trailers and previews for Dead Space 2, I was eager to see if it held true to the original game’s amazing attributes. It did…and then some. Quite simply put this game was a complete mind f**k. It took me about 20 hours to get through it and I swear it was the longest and most intense 20 hours of my LIFE. I thought Dead Space was bad, but there was just something far more eerie about not only fighting off the Necros but now fighting yourself. Poor Isaac is losing it and his dead girlfriend who keeps haunting him is not helping matters any. To make things worse, you don’t know who to trust anymore.
The game is as dark, gritty, and gory as the first with the same expert sound elements that made the first Dead Space creepy and terrifying. The Sprawl provided a great new environment that had its own unique challenges and even afforded a few tactical advantages. The new weapons were a ton of fun and most definitely meet my approval, however I totally could have done without one or two of the new Necromorphs. And while I am on the topic of the Necromorphs, I would like to call shenanigans on Visceral for one particular point in the game: the level of challenge. Now this encompasses a couple of things but the primary being the actual level of difficulty. Being a seasoned gamer I tend to go for the harder difficulties even on my first play through. I had been warned ahead of time and was glad that I heeded the advise to play the game through on the normal setting as it would be challenging enough on my first play through. And my friends hadn’t been kidding. I could have done without the constant attacks to my back while I am already engaged with three other enemies that are coming at my front. Yes it enhances the intensity of the game…but it also wears a player down and becomes frustrating. I will admit that it may be a few play-throughs before I attempt to beat this game on one of the harder levels….and I don’t really think I will have the patience to try the game on the Hardcore setting which should really be titled “You’re Insane for Even Attempting This.” I love a good challenge, but I also like to have fun and that is just not my idea of fun.
Again there were many elements from the first game that remained the same in the second such as the control schematic and functions. The stasis ability returned, which proved to be my savior in many spots. I wasn’t too happy about the fact that I couldn’t fully upgrade my suit by the end of the first play through…or even by the second and perhaps third. Some of the DLC packs of upgraded suits and weapons were handy during the first play-through however. As for the multiplayer option…I am a bit torn. While an amusing distraction, I found them lacking. I can’t quite place my finger on why exactly and I think it stems from small issues I have with several things. The first is that there should be more maps and objectives than the five that were released with the game.
Hopefully more will be released at DLC in the future. Second, the Necro controls are not intuitive but this is somewhat made up for the in the fact that you can respawn anywhere of your choosing on the map, which is unfair to those who are on the human teams as you can be killed and then you can choose to respawn behind them. If you get your Necro tush toasted, you shouldn’t be rewarded. Just sayin’. Finally, I have yet to see some kind of even match-up system. Now maybe I have just played at the wrong times, but every time I have played I have been lumped with several opposing members who are upgraded far above me and I do nothing but spend a good portion of the match looking at my spawn countdown. This is the first attempt at a multiplayer for the Dead Space franchise though so I am hoping they will work out the kinks as they go and are able to present a more polished product for any other possible future games.
While the first game definitely had a few surprises, the storyline wasn't overly spectacular. I enjoyed it, but after playing Dead Space 2 I realized just how run of the mill it had been. Dead Space 2 offers a much more complex and in depth storyline filled with plot twists and turns, some of which will make you cringe and others that will make your jaw drop. Of course Visceral wanted to go for the shock value of the game, which is obvious by their one particular “Your Mom Hates This” marketing campaign. While a bit funny to watch, I have to agree that it was in poor taste and Visceral and EA really could have come up with something a bit less adolescent for a marketing campaign and that wouldn’t have scarred a bunch of middle aged women for life. Not everyone is into this genre - not even I am into everything within this genre - and people shouldn’t be judged or mocked for their opinions on it. To specifically single out conservative and older women and then subject them to some of the most disturbing and horrific images from this game just to get their shocked reactions borders on cruel in my opinion. I am hoping that for future games, Visceral and EA will grow up and figure out some better marketing strategies in the future.
Poor marketing strategies aside though, I feel that overall Visceral did justice to the franchise with this game. The graphics, design and sound in Dead Space 2 once again raised the intensity bar, and the storyline was much more in-depth and the characters were fleshed out and more human. As the player I was finally able to be immersed into Isaac’s character, something that was a bit lacking in the last game. The mysteries that were being unraveled as the game progressed kept me engrossed - even when I wanted to put the controller down to take a break and get my heart rate back under control. The little twist at the end of the credits also made me excited to see what more they have in store for Isaac Clarke.
Rating on a scale of 1-10
Overall Gameplay: 9.75