It has been a few years since Isaac Clarke destroyed the marker in Dead Space, along with the planet it was on and escaped the Necromorph outbreak. You would have thought that he could escape the crazy people and their plans for the universe, you would be wrong though Ė Isaac is back and heís ready to get even in Dead Space 2.
Dead Space was one of those games that almost came out of nowhere, making me an instant fan and proving that survival horror in space could work really well without the trademark Alien(s) and Facehuggers. It took Resident Evil by the throat and provided an immersive, disturbing and violently twisted romp through a doomed space ship.
I remember finishing Dead Space and hoping weíd see more Isaac, and now it seems like no time at all since the first Necromorph outbreak. Story
Dead Space picked up after the animated Dead Space: Downfall and Dead Space 2 picks up after the events from the downloadable game Dead Space: Ignition and Dead Space: Aftermath, another animated tale. Itís not necessary for you to watch and play all of these things to get right into 2, but itís worth it if you want the whole story and the complete experience. You do get some nice toys from Ignition that transfer into Dead Space 2. Dead Space 2 brings Isaac back and this time itís not a ship that is in trouble, itís a huge space station called the Sprawl.
The Necros are back and theyíre meaner this time around, fortunately for Isaac, so is he.
3 years later he wakes up and things go to hell really fast. Youíll have to play the game to find out why, but the first few minutes of Dead Space 2 are in a word: Awesome.Gameplay
Fans of Dead Space will be able to jump right into the thick of things pretty quickly; itís like putting on a pair of very comfortable shoes only to find that someoneís made them fit even better. What the developers have done is great; theyíve listened to the fans and made significant changes that soup up the gameplay without sacrificing the intensity and the horror of the first game. Whilst it doesnít feel as scary as Dead Space it isnít supposed to, Isaac is no longer running for his life Ė heís out to get even and heís madder than a bag of hammers, having been infected by the marker from the first game and driven nearly insane. All of this feeds directly into the experience with Isaac suffering dementia moments that serve to drive the narrative at times and scare the heck out of you at others.
Movement and combat are smoother; Isaacís telekinesis module has been made into a weapon this time around. Itís possible to pick up certain objects in the game world and hurl them into the Necromorphs, pinning them like undead butterflies to a wall. You can even rip bits off dead Necros and use them as weapons to conserve ammo.
Stasis has been altered, your module now recharges over time and can be upgraded with additional uses and duration.
Isaacís RIG now has thrusters that work in Zero-G to enhance that portion of gameplay. It is now a full 360 degrees with no need for the fiddly jump mechanic of the first game, you can explore to find hidden nodes and schematics. In some sections the air runs out and once again the air meter makes a welcome return to bring a little bit of tension to the mix.
Isaacís arsenal has been upgraded, there are some more weapons for him to use against the bad guys and the Javelin gun for example has a powerful alternate function that electrifies the last Javelin launched. This can be a life saver if you have a clump of Necros bearing down on you. I wonít spoil any of the weapons though, Iíll just say that thereís a nice mix of old and new, with a lot of the weapons being given a special ability if you put the right Nodes into the weapon at the Bench.
Yep, the Bench is back and so are Nodes, Node locked rooms and Stores of course. Isaacís RIGs have been upgraded with new models and functions, some of the suits offer extra bonuses when worn and thereís a nice system that lets you keep your stats from one suit to the next, even if you change to a different RIG that you like the look of. For example if youíre running a RIG with 10 Inventory slots and 10% armour, you find one with 15% armour and 15 Inventory. You can go back to the previous RIG and youíll keep the bonuses.
You can melee with the right trigger and stomp again, stomping often yields valuable currency and ammo from the corpses of the Necros you defeat.
The developers have done away with the map, but they have made the objective line multi-functional so you can use it to track, objectives, stores, save points and work-benches now.
All in all the controls, the changes to the gameplay and the new sequences that Iím not going to spoil, are a welcome addition to the formula and serve to make the gameplay in Dead Space 2 much better than the first. Being able to rip out Nodes from weapons and use them in others is also a great addition, though you donít get that till later on in the game at it costs about 5,000 to do so.
There are also new Necro types to deal with and good luck with those, again, Iím not even going to tell you what they are, so if youíre new to the franchise or youíre looking for a spoiler free experience Ė you came to the right review.Graphics
Dead Space was a nice looking game; it used a lot of the graphical tropes in this genre really well, made use of lighting to create a spooky and visceral atmosphere. Dead Space 2 is a significant step up the graphical ladder, its better looking than 1 and manages to push a new level of detail with some really nice environments, disgusting monsters and a great level of fidelity on the characters. The facial animations are better on the human antagonists and allies, and overall itís just a huge leap from the first game that it really took me by surprise. The game is also packed with some totally gruesome OTT death animations for Isaac, itís worth dying just to see them!