Dead Space 2
Written By: Carl Frill
Dead Space 2, The sequel to the highly successful 2008 game Dead Space, developed by Visceral Games, Is a survival-horror game set in the future on Titan Station, a human colony built on what is left of Saturn’s biggest moon. 3 Years after the events onboard the USG Ishimura (a.k.a. Dead Space), another Necromorph infestation has broken out, and engineer Isaac Clarke must escape.
So far, so familiar. It’s the basic plot premises of nearly any survival-horror game. Something has gone wrong, a lot of scary things want to kill you, and you want to be out of there so fast he breaks the Olympic record. So what makes this different from any other survival horror? Well, Dead Space introduced strategic dismemberment, whereby instead of shooting an enemy in the head until it stops moving, the idea is to remove an enemy’s limbs so they cannot attack you. And it makes the game much more exiting, and much scarier. Instead of just shooting blindly, you have to stop and actually think about what to do in order to survive. Which, if it worked like it sounded, would be great. But all it means in practice is if you take a leg off, it walks differently, removing the head usually does nothing at all, and most enemies die when two limbs have been removed, which is usually as little as two shots from the basic sidearm. The system still works, but all it means in terms of gameplay is that the weak spots of an enemy are somewhere else, instead of the head.
There’s become a bigger emphasis on plot & characterization this time. In the original game, you saw Isaac’s face twice in the whole game, once at the start & again at the end, and he rarely, if ever, talked. However, with the introduction of foldaway helmets in the three years Isaac forgot, he uses every chance given to expose his face and give a full monologue every time anything happens to further the plot, even to the extent of ruining realism. On one scene, he opens his helmet to talk to somebody, and a window smashes, causing a vacuum & all the air to escape from the room. His suit kicks in to provide him air as usual, but his helmet doesn’t fold back, and so he still shouldn’t be able to breathe, yet he can survive for some time in these conditions.
The level designs are much better than the last time around, where everything was rusty & gloomy, even parts such as medical bays and sleeping quarters. Being on a space station instead of a ship, there’s much more room for variety, and includes an apartment block, a shopping district, and a school/nursery. But even these feel the same, and for a whole chapter, the levels are exactly the same as several from the original game. To be fair, these levels are set on the Ishimura, and it would be confusing if it had changed, but it still just feels copy-pasted to save time. There’s even a trap in the exact same location. I didn’t think It would happen, as the first time you walk through, nothing happens. But then you have to go back the same way, and it happens. I was disappointed when it didn’t happen, then I was disappointed when it did. This is what happens when the same thing gets used time and time again.
As a whole, this was a fantastic game. I’ve still to check the multiplayer, but since I judge game by single player, this review shall cover that alone. There were definitely a few improvements over the original, and nothing great was taken away. But to me it still doesn’t cover the genre it is given. It only ever feels like horror at one point, where you have no weapons, and basically run all the time. Once you get a weapon, its so easy to kill everything, it ceases to be scary. I feel this misidentification of genre changes my opinion, even though it makes no difference. Its not what it says it is, but a great game nonetheless. If it said what it was, it would just be a great game, without justifying it.