Dead Space 2 - Review

Oh boy, how long have we been waiting for this sequel. Nowadays if you really pay attention, you will notice that video games located in the horror genre got quite rare in the video game industry. Now that Resident Evil 5 more or less finished the franchise (it was more of an action game anyway) and the F.E.A.R. franchise also focusing more on action, Dead Space is probably THE horror game franchise of this video game generation.


The plot again focuses on Isaac Clarke. After his escape from the USG Ishimura, Isaac is now on the Sprawl, a populated metropolis on one of Saturn's moons. Since the incident on the Ishimura, Isaac is now being terrorized by disturbing hallucinations concerning his dead love Nicole. The game starts as Isaac wakes up in the hospital station of the Sprawl which by some reasons already has been infested with another breed of necromorphs. Now Isaac has to find out how the necromorphs survived and most importantly, how he can escape...

It's really hard talking about Dead Space 2's story without giving away too much. The story contains several twists during the course of gameplay and so i just don't want to spoil anything for you. Anyway, i have to say that though the story of Dead Space 2 isn't awful, it isn't quite as good as the first one. But ok that was one tough act to follow. I just would have wished that the developers would have came up with a better reason to let Isaac fight against space zombies one more time without starting the game with ***SPOILER** "Isaac you destroyed A marker. There's another one!" **SPOILER END**. It's nothing horrible but it kind of seemed like a cheap excuse to start a sequel. Luckily the rest of the story is pretty good, although not as good as the first one.


The gameplay of Dead Space 2 is by far it's biggest strength. What this sequel lacks in story, it outweighs with refined gameplay mechanics. Mainly the game plays like the original Dead Space some new features. In Dead Space 2 you get a much bigger variety of weapons: for example the javelin which is kind of a uber-harpune. Additionally, the developers refined the old weapons. The pulse rifle has a much more useful secondary fire mode (grenade launcher) and the plasmacutter has a quicker way to reload, etc. Also i recognized that the sounds of the guns got changed too (into the better). Next to the weapons, you know also got the ability to impale enemies with their own claws and pin them to a wall via your kinesis power.
But if you are interested in Dead Space 2 you might even already know everything about those little tweaks.
Oh and by the way, thank god that the developers gave Isaac those awesome rocketboots. They make the navigation of Isaac during the zero-gravity segments of the game sooo much easier (i hated those segments in the original because you could only jump from wall to wall).
But Dead Space 2's gameplay is not perfect. Dead Space 2 is a game that made some aspects from the original better but also left out some important aspects which made the first one so good.
Dead Space 2 is a creepy game. The game itself made me jump not only once BUT it's very obvious that the developers focused far more on the action in this sequel than on the horror aspects. It's not that a big change like in Resident Evil 5 (compare the first RE games with RE5) but it's much more shooting and running this time around thatn building up survival horror atmosphere. I kind of missed that in Dead Space 2, but on the other hand i often read that the developers wanted to do the sequel more action focused so it's fine but they should be careful not to lose the core of this horror franchise. A very BIG problem i had with this game, is that after i was cool with the fact that this time it's gonna be more action than horror, THERE ARE ALMOST NO BOSSES! I admit that there weren't even that many bosses in the original but come on! In a game that has such a big variety of suits an guns (which is great) the developers should have really thrown in at least 4 bosses or so. And when the game is set in a place like the Sprawl, a big space city, there are plenty of opportunities to throw in a big necromorph at one of the several different places there. And the final boss is well, kind of underwhelming as i think. But anyway, this concerns the bosses: The developers also added some new enemy types. All the old enemy types are also present in this sequel but overall, there still should be more if you ask me. As i am thinking right now, i guess it was like 5 new enemy types or so.....and if you keep in mind that there are almost no bosses during the game, then you want some more variety when it comes to the monsters.
A big thing that got improved upon the original are the setpiece moments of the game (cinematic gameplay scenes). The best ones being the "split-train scene" in chapter 2 and the "big necromorph-being-sucked-out-with-you-into-space fight". The game offers several of those set piece moments which would have made the original even better.
At last, a big thing that caught my attention was the difficulty. Dead Space 2 is a far harder to beat game than its predecessor. This shows either on specific segments of the game or at least during the last 3 chapters of the game. That's not a bad but a good thing as i think. Various difficulties in video games are ok but when i am playing a game on the "normal" that doesn't mean that i don't want to be challenged. The "normal" difficulty in games nowadays has been set so low for the "casual gamers" that challenging "normal" games have become rare. Dead Space 2 keeps the balance pretty well as i think. And by the way, the game includes a "hardcore" mode which is the hardest difficulty of the game in which you are only allowed to save 3 times during one playthrough and can only be revived at savepoints and not checkpoints...good luck to all the masochists.


The graphics of the game have been significantly improved over the original. While there are no big changes concerning the environments, the character models and facial expressions are superb. Lighting effects and especially fire looks amazingly good (remarkably good). Although the character models are almost on the same facial detail level as Kratos in God of War III, the necromorphs could have looked better. I admit that when you are shooting the heads of zombie-kids off, you don't pay attention to such detail. But when you play the game, just pick up one of those fuckers and look at the textures.


But the real star of this game is the sound. Not the soundtrack (which is also quite good) but the sound effects. Most of the time there is no background score during the game. The game completely puts you into the atmosphere of being in an infested "dead" city. You constantly hear creepy noices around the corner and screams from behind walls and other scary shit...just turn off your lights turn up your speakervolume and you are good to go. Oh and the end-credits song is pretty sweet too.


And the multiplayer? Well, sucks. It's just a slap-on trend nowadays that EVERY game needs a multiplayer. The Dead Space 2 multiplayer is not worth mentioning. It's more or less just you and your friends being able to shoot the fuck out of each other. The fact that you can also play as necromorphs doesn't help the multiplayer much. Dead Space 2 should have just stayed a single player game.

The Verdict

All in all, when speaking about whether Dead Space 2 is better than the original or not...well it's different. While the first Dead Space focused more on survival horror aspects and isolation, Dead Space 2 focuses more on action and fast pacing. That doesn't mean that the game isn't scary, it's just not AS scary.
Just think about the difference between "Alien" and "Aliens" and there you have it.
Dead Space 2 is a great game, and fans of the original will love it. I enjoyed every minute of it and didn't regret my purchase at all. For me, this sequel isn't better than the original, but just AS good AS the original, concerning that it does some things better and some other things worse. Both games have its strengths and weaknesses which results in both games getting the same score from me.

Final Verdict: 9 out of 10

Status: Great!


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