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Dead Space released a little over 2 years ago and was well-regarded in many ways, the biggest being its unique take on combat where instead of just shooting enemies, you have to strategically dismember their limbs until they go down. When I played Dead Space, I never did get enraptured into the experience like everyone else seemed to do. I thought it was interesting and at rare times, scary. But I also felt that the pacing slightly dragged and the story was slowly becoming a bit too predictable for my taste.
I did pick Dead Space back up last December and finally played through it all. My opinions never changed, the combat remained great throughout but the story was nothing special, and a good story is what I itch for in horror games. Dead Space 2 has finally arrived and can it deliver the horror experience the first one promised?
Possibly my most hated video game cliché is the silent protagonist. It makes no sense and ruins the character for me. Never have I felt connected to a character that had no voice. Thankfully, Dead Space 2 drops that cliché that its predecessor used, with Isaac now being fully voiced by Gunnar Wright. At first, Gunnar’s voice didn’t seem to fit the character like I wanted. I expected Isaac to be a gravelly voiced angry man, but instead he’s simply a normal man with a normal voice. Which you quickly realize is a good thing, as it makes Isaac slightly more relatable.
You also see a lot more of Isaac’s face in this one, which again, adds even more depth to the Isaac character. It’s clear Visceral games wanted Dead Space 2 to revolve around Isaac as they pulled out all they could to make Isaac anything but a one dimensional character, and they succeeded.
I could go on for hours about how much I enjoyed playing through Dead Space as Isaac but my biggest question entering Dead Space was will it deliver a decent enough story to keep me hooked throughout; and it did just that. Isaac wakes up in an all new area that has just become infected with the Necromorph virus. Isaac (and the player) know little to nothing about the station you’re on and half of the game is spent just figuring out what the hell is happening in this place. Layered with great characters such as Ellie and Stross, Dead Space 2’s story only gets progressively more incredible as it goes on. All leading up to one of the most intense, haunting final few chapters I have ever witnessed in a game.
Surprisingly, my only problem with Dead Space this time around had to do with the enemy types, which is something that was never an issue in the first game. In particular, I found one type of enemy to be an extreme nuisance. I’ve looked around for their names but couldn’t find it; I will call them “buggers.” Buggers are the enemy types that shoot out exploding balls once you get close to them; they’re similar to a landmine. This enemy type is beyond clichéd and the most frustrating parts of Dead Space 2 all revolve around the buggers completely screwing you over just because they were hidden on the roof behind some lighting effect that made them near impossible to see. In the Dead Space series, you constantly have to move around to ensure that a Necromorph isn’t approaching you from behind, but when these things are around, it eliminates moving completely as you’re scared you’ll hit a bugger and then have to restart from the last checkpoint. Adding new enemies to a game is all fine and dandy, but try to make them interesting additions and not something that feels like it was never designed to be in the game in the first place.
A staple of the Dead Space franchise is the Plasma Cutter. It’s what most of us used as our main weapon throughout Dead Space 1, and for good reason. Dead Space 2 does introduce a few new weapons, though I never diverged from my old faithful set of Line Gun, Pulse Rifle, and Plasma Cutter.
Very rarely has a game actually made me scared. Dead Space 1 managed to do it a few times but not enough to make me legitimately scared of the world I was in. Dead Space 2 however, changes all of that and manages to instill a sense of terror that I never thought I could feel in a video game. There definitely are a few jump scares along the way but those are all followed by a creepy look into Isaac Clarke’s demented psyche. It’s the world around you that makes you really intimidated though; littered with slight musical notes that add a certain air of tenseness to almost every situation. That topped off with the perfect lighting that Visceral Games is so good at doing makes an engaging experience that keeps you hooked for hours upon hours before finally letting you go at the end.
And by letting you go, I mean letting you try the multiplayer. Dead Space 2’s multiplayer seems to be built around the mechanics that games such as Left 4 Dead used. You play as either the humans or the Necromorph. If you’re a human, you have set objectives that you have to complete in a certain time, if you’re a Necromorph; you have to stop the humans from completing the objectives. It’s simple but the novelty of playing as a Necromorph is really cool at first. Until you realize that all of Dead Space 2’s multiplayer revolves around winning a war of attrition. You spawn, attack, die, spawn, attack, etc. until someone ultimately wins. There isn’t much variety to it, but it is fine for an hour or two of fun.
Dead Space 2 is a surreal experience that should be enjoyed by anyone in the mood for a good scare, or even just in the mood for a good game. You’ll be invested so deeply into Isaac’s character and the world around you that you’ll forget about all the buggers, and simply just enjoy the remarkably terrifying experience that is Dead Space 2.