Review: Dead Space 2

-Marcus Lawrence

One of the most highly anticipated games of 2011 also happens to be the scariest. Dead Space 2 is the second installment of the series and it doesn’t let it’s fans down. Besides Dead Space: Ignition and Dead Space: Extraction, Dead Space 2 is a true sequel to the original. Dead Space 2 is almost exactly the same game as the first; bring its’ gameplay along to this sequel. The only true differences in Dead Space 2 are how the zero-g sections work, a hacking minigame and now the main protagonist, Isaac Clark finally has a voice and finally the addition of online multiplayer.

First of all, the zero-g portions of the game are all 360° movement. Meaning, you can fly around in free-form rather than just simple jumping from place to place. Isaac Clark is a man that must deal with his inner demons as well as the monstrous necromorphs. Walking away from the USG Ishimaru didn’t come without a price. Now, Isaac can talk, which I think has to be one of the best things they could have changed about Dead Space. You can’t get attached to someone if they never talk and express their emotions. So, if you’ve ever played Dead Space before, then you know what to expect with a little something more. For those of you who haven’t, that is what I am here for.

Plot: This time around, we find Isaac being held in an asylum on a space station named the Sprawl. He was rescued from the ship he escaped on from the first Dead Space. Set three years after the incident of the USG Ishimaru, somehow the necromorphs have found their way onto the Sprawl and Isaac has to fight to survive once more. Between betrayals, scares and heart pounding sequences, Dead Space 2 proves that it can make just about anyone jump or even scream. For me, I know I jumped way too many times to count and felt chills go down my spine during the creepy moments.

Gameplay: Dead Space 2 plays just exactly as before with the added ability to hack machines. Hacking machines either opens up doors or gets machinery to work. As I stated before, the zero-g sections are new and quite a blast as well. No longer having to jump around to reach the next area, you can boost to where you need to be and can even shoot as you’re airborne. Shooting at the limbs off of necromorphs is still the way to go and is the recommended way to play if you want to escape the Sprawl with your body still intact.

There are plenty of ways to tear limbs off with a total of eleven weapons to choose from. Each weapon has an alt-fire which produces a difference effect. You got the Plasma Cutter, which is the standard pistol-esque weapon and the Pulse Rifle which is the high tech version of a machine gun just to name a few. Each one has a different way to be used effectively so you’ll never run out of ways to destroy these hellish creatures. Also, when you come across certain windows, they can be shot at to cause a decompression to occur, sucking out everything in the area including you if not closed in time. As far as I’m concerned, nothing has changed really when it comes down to the core elements, probably because this formula worked so well in the first installment and there was no need to change anything. All that was needed was to build upon the first.

Online: The online aspect is new to Dead Space 2. If you’ve ever played versus mode for the Left 4 Dead series, then you’ll have a good idea about how this works. Every other round you take control of either the humans or the necromorphs. The humans have objectives that need to be completed in order to win the round. The objectives aren’t the same either. You either have to escape the station or shut down a reactor, just to name a few. The necromorphs are the opposite. They have to stop the humans from reaching their goals, ensuring a win. Winning matches gives you experience points, which allows you rank up and get different weapons, skins, and equipment for humans.

Leveling up for the necromorphs is a bit difference. Instead of weapons the necromorphs get new skills that can help you take down humans much easier. Teamwork is key if you want to win any of your games. The online is best played with friends or good teammates.

Graphics/Audio: Graphics this time around have improved tremendously, making the experience one not to forget. Everything from the character models and the details that go into each of the different suits you can purchase look better. The surroundings never get old and if anything, add to the creepy atmosphere. As for the audio… with my Turtlebeach headphones and that surround sound, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Every growl, creak, footstep, and clashing could be heard and it helped to be a catalyst to the environment.

All in all, this game is almost perfect. However, there are just a few minor details that hold it back from being a 10. First, the online has some cracks in it. The humans always seem to have an infinite amount of Pulse Rifle bullets, which spells trouble for the opposing team since all you have to do is aim and spray and you’ll get a bunch of kills. I played the online recently and the community is pretty much dry. I guess other games like COD and Gears stole the thunder. The story is good, but it isn’t quite as compelling like others. And the only other thing I can think of was that you have to stomp on enemies to get extra ammo and health. If I was in a space station having aliens chase after me, the least of my problems would be running around and stomping on bodies to grab ammo and items. But that’s it, I couldn’t find anything wrong with this game, the story progressed at a good pace, the controls and gameplay are tight, graphics are worthy for a next gen system, plus, the sound is really well done. With my Turtlebeach X11 headset, I was able to hear things I would rather not hear. With the year just starting off, Dead Space 2 already had a spot secured for the 2011 VGA’s (Video Game Awards). With that being said, I give Dead Space 2 for the Xbox 360 a 9.5 out of 10. - Official Dead Space 2 Launch Trailer