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Dead Space 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the deep space horror game, Dead Space. This franchise was one of the most successful new IPs for Electronic Arts in 2008, and Dead Space 2 looks to continue its success in 2010. Now that there’s a public demo out for everyone to see and experience, I played through it hoping for the same amount of innovation and horror that was in Dead Space.
When you first start the demo, you’re given a 3-4 minutes cutscene detailing the universe of Dead Space and Isaac Clarke, should you be unfamiliar with those. Then you’re immediately dropped into gameplay with half health and low resources, but that’s only because this is a short demo. You get a Plasma Cutter, Line Gun, Javelin Gun, and Assault Rifle. When you enter the next room, there’s some tutorial elements on stomping and health. The room after that presents something new to Dead Space, and something that was shown at in Extraction, insanity.
To anyone familiar with the Dead Space story, they should know that Isaac is a bit off the deep end already, but that’s presented in much more vivid detail in Dead Space 2, as that actually interferes with gameplay. In this room, for instance, cryogenic tubes seem to break out with human/necromorphs screaming at Isaac. This is the one hallucination in the demo, and however brief it was, it did look good, with slanted angles, blurring, and off-tone colors. It did also unnerve me a bit, so it succeeded it’s purpose.
The next few rooms have nothing in them, until a necromorph finally pops out, though it’s not your standard flesh eater. This one spits acid out at you much like the Spitter from Left 4 Dead 2, though this necromorph seems to have lungs developed for acid-spitting, which you can see thanks to a gaping hole in it’s chest. Then, the next rooms throw out combinations of standard and spitter necromorphs, though a more powerful one hides and jumps at a later moment.
Then you’re introduced to the puzzle and zero gravity elements of Dead Space 2, and this is where the new “Launch and Land” mechanic is introduced. You can essentially float freely in zero gravity now, which is pretty fun, and looks cool, too. There’s the standard stasis and kinectic grab abilities on display in this room as well.
So far in the demo, Isaac has had his standard RIG, but you can finally get the star of Dead Space 2 in the next room, the Advanced RIG. It has the benefits of more armor and health, while also looking much better. It does get in the way of Isaac’s mentality of being “just” an engineer, but EA has said that Isaac is actively hunting down the necromorphs now, so it makes sense.
The next room is a creepy, dark, Unitologist church, where you’re treated to jump scares, evil little babies (what is it with EA and evil babies?), and exploding necromorphs. You get into a long elevator ride with nary a problem, except for the nice gentleman who interrupts your ride and tries to kill you.
Isaac walks out to a view of the Sprawl, Dead Space 2‘s new location, only to be greeted by a gunship trying to kill him. Who this gunship belongs to and why it’s trying to kill Isaac is left unknown for the demo, but it could be Unitologists or insane civilians like in the first Dead Space. Isaac barely escapes, and then the demo ends with a huge necromorph from Dead Space returning.
I enjoyed my time with the Dead Space 2 demo, there were some pretty good scares, the hallucination elements were cool, and the shooting was as satisfying as ever. The game looked pretty good, too, with a steady frame rate to back it up, though it still didn’t look like it was hitting that 60 frames per second that we expect from games these days. Still, I had fun, and Dead Space 2 is looking like it’s offering up more of the same, though the same is a good thing. For now.