Review by DachshundKing

"Dead Space 2 is Better in Almost Every Way"

I preordered Dead Space 2, finished it in three days, and never stopped having fun, which is a rarity for most games I play. It was absolutely fantastic, and when my friend finally returns it, I intend to start another playthrough immediately. The game was better than the original (which I loved) in almost every conceivable way, except, oddly enough, for the horror aspect. The game simply wasn't that scary to me. In any case, on with the review.

Gameplay: 9/10

The gameplay is nearly rock solid; there are a few minor hiccups, but too few to annoy. The game is, like its predecessor, a third-person shooter based around dismembering enemies to kill them, as they possess incredible toughness and die fastest when crippled. The weapons, ranging from a surprisingly ineffective Javelin Gun which can impale and electrify enemies, to an even better version of the Ripper (basically a gravity chainsaw) from the first game, are all fun to use, although some are weak and fairly ineffective until the player massively upgrades them.

There are not particularly many new enemies, which is something of a failing, but honestly, I don't care. The enemies they've added add new, exciting aspects to gameplay. Take the Pack, for instance: necromorph children with vicious claws who run fast and surround you in huge numbers; another example are the Stalkers, who play cat-and-mouse with the player, trying to lure you into a trap.

The new suit system, in which a suit not only provides you with permanent armor and health bonuses, but also a bonus (such as cheaper items in the shops or better damage with the Pulse Rifle) based on what suit you wear, is excellent. Even better, if you change suits to get a preferred appearance or extra bonus, the armor and health bonus remains at the level of the best suit bought: in other words, you can wear the first suit and get its bonus, but have the armor and health of the best suit.

Another fantastic thing in this game: certain windows can be shot out to suck all the enemies into space, but you have to shoot the red button over the window before it sucks you out unless you want a grisly death. This is fun, but if enemies break it and you are at a bad angle or very close, shooting the button becomes impossible. This led to two cheap deaths on my part.

Controls: 9/10

The controls are even better than the first game, which had incredibly good controls for the horror genre. The buttons have been remapped to make it easier to fight quickly, which is necessary: the hordes that attack Isaac are far more numerous and vicious than before. One of the biggest changes is Kinesis; although objects could be thrown in the first game, this was generally a one-off or a last resort. In this game, Kinesis is far faster and more efficient. It is possible to hit an enemy with Stasis to slow them down, blow off a bladed arm, then snatch it out of midair with Kinesis and almost instantly fire it back into the enemy, possibly impaling it to a wall. Another excellent change is to Stasis; much like Kinesis, it used to be little more than a puzzle-solver and a last resort due to the player's dependency on recharge stations or portable recharge packs, which cluttered inventory space. Now it recharges, albeit incredibly slowly until upgraded, and becomes an integral part of combat.

Story: 7/10

Don't get me wrong: the story is better than the last game's story. It involves Isaac Clarke's quest to find out why he has woken up on the Sprawl, a teeming colony on the tiny remaining shard of Titan, once a moon of Saturn, now mined out of all its valuable minerals. Needless to say, a necromorph infestation has taken over the Sprawl, killing and transforming most of the citizens. Isaac is then forced to make his way through the Sprawl, trying to hold on to his wavering sanity and find a way to stop the infestation.

Returning, of course, are the numerous, "go here, fix that" quests that move the story, but this time, rather than being ordered around by two irritating crew members presumably sitting in safety and sipping coffee while Isaac does everything, Isaac gives himself most of the orders in the form of telling someone else what he has to go do to save the day. Not a massive improvement.

Isaac now has a voice and a "personality." Frankly, his personality comes across as somewhat schizophrenic; in one scene he seems bland and uninteresting, in another hostile and confident, and in another he comes across with a jaunty attitude best described as "Nathan Drake-like." Still, it's a definite improvement to the character as compared to the last game. In the last game, when he finds out about the game's biggest, most tragic twist, his reaction is to grab his temples and shake his head slowly for three seconds, like he's suffering from sudden attack of dizziness or a migraine.

In any case, another odd thing is the accents: I swear some of the voice actors from the previous game are playing different but similar characters in this one (and making no effort to sound different).

Sound: 10/10

Although this game barely frightened me, the ambiance is amazingly good, just like the last game. There are clanks and clatters, distant screams, and flickering lights; messages written in blood adorn the walls and the cheery music pouring out of a clothing store provides a stark contrast to the slavering monstrosities advancing on you from all angles. Even in rooms where nothing happens, something will almost certainly frighten you.

Graphics: 10/10

I haven't seen a game this beautifully rendered in a long time. The character models are as high-quality as Resident Evil 5, and the environments are stunning. Ranging from a dark and brooding church to an utterly terrifying day-care center, this game is beautiful.I don't know enough about graphics to declare them the "greatest ever" or "not making use of the 360's potential" but trust me: to the layman, this game is gorgeous.

Horror Factor: 7/10

I don't know why this game doesn't scare me. Dead Space 1 terrified me. It took me 12 days to complete it; I couldn't take more than one chapter at a time. I beat this game in 3 days and barely was frightened at all. The opening of the game sets the bar high, with a desperate run that makes the previous game's opening look tame, but the horror seemed to ratchet off after a little while. The game is still scary, but it just didn't scare me as much as the first. Still, it seems to terrify most people, so I can still recommend it as a good, scary game.

Multiplayer: 7/10

I haven't played the multiplayer very much, but it's basically okay. If you were thinking about buying this game largely for its multiplayer (for some reason) I honestly couldn't recommend it, however. It's basically just an AvP-style humans vs necromorphs, with the human players trying to complete objectives and the necromorph players trying to stop them. It certainly isn't the worst multiplayer I've ever played, but it isn't in the same ballpark as CoD or Halo.

Replayability: Very High

It took about 9 or 10 hours for me to beat this game, so it isn't as short as most modern games. Even better, the New Game+ feature, which lets you carry over your items and weapons into the next game, increases the replayability massively. In addition, there is a gamer challenge: Hard Core mode. Unlocked after beating the story, Hard Core mode only allows the player to save their game 3 times in the entire playthrough, makes the enemies incredibly tough and deadly, and gives you only what it considers to be the bare minimum of health and ammo to survive. This mode, upon completion, offers one of the most amazingly fun rewards of all time.

Final Answer

This is both a great horror game and a great game overall; the puzzles are simple but engaging enough, the controls make Resident Evil's style look even more archaic, and the story is good enough to move the game along. Other than a very cheap final boss, this game has solid enemies as well. I could recommend it to anyone; not only that, but this game is worth buying new, for full price. Believe me, they've more than earned the money.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/10/11

Game Release: Dead Space 2 (US, 01/25/11)

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