Dead Space 2 is back with more gore and over the shoulder person survival horror in space! This time the almost faceless silent protagonist named Issac Clark is back from deep space, but in this sequel he now has a face and a voice! Is it for the better because he now talks to people? Its not better or worse he's more of a vanilla flavor now instead of being just a mystery like the first game. One quick downside is that you'll need an Origin account. Yep, feel free to hate the game because you need to log in even if you don't actually need Origin on your PC, just an account. Now that's out of the way the people who aren't outraged into throwing bloody feces can read on.
For those that didn't play the first game, you have an optional video recap of the first game and its events that happened. When the game opens, the space station you're on board has already been taken over by alien necromorphs that use dead bodies to mutate them into a variety of creatures. The game has always boasted strategic dismemberment, so you'll need to shoot an enemy in the legs where it will then crawl after you. Shoot its head and it will blindly swing at you. Its a nice dynamic that really boils down to your aim.
Since the space station is being overrun with creatures, you'll see NPCs fighting for their lives in scripted sequences, but it doesn't break the flow of the game with straight up cut scenes. It feels like you'll always have movement or the game will always be moving forward. It adds to the immersion process. Even if you are not alone, you're the only person that can do anything. The game is beautiful with all of its horrific glory, lighting effects and sheer beauty of space. You get a scale and a scope with this game. You'll look over space apartments, see shuttles leaving and others crashing. You'll walk through a church, and a brightly lit, yet super creepy kindergarten school. It feels like the station is alive where the original Dead Space 1 felt very controlled circumstances, like nothing was happening without you being there in the room.
Is it scary? The game has gone through great lengths to make this game legitimately scary and more tense than the first game. Its not just scary monsters chasing you oh how scary. Its being haunted by your dead girlfriend. The game also manages to put you in a lot of helpless moments such as being in a straight jacket with enemies around or hanging upside down and forced to murder enemies before they reach you (some might call it a turret section with a twist). There are some memorable scenes. Other than that, the game keeps a dark atmosphere with amazing lighting. You still get a flashlight that only works when you aim. Thankfully the developers have really done a lot to clean up the ragdoll problem that had the dead enemies get stuck in the player's feet for laughs.
The controls have improved from the first game, thankfully there are now hot buttons for health, reload and other minor tweaks that feel so much better. For those that haven't played, left stick controls movement, right stick or mouse controls the camera, you have 4 weapon slots to change in the D-pad, an aim button, shoot button, which is also the melee button when not aiming, telekinesis button to pull objects, stasis button to slow objects down while you run by, run button, health button and so on. There's even a stomp button for destroying boxes and when you think enemies are dead, but they haven't dropped any items, so you go over and stomp them for valuable prizes like health and ammo. Thankfully the game's map and inventory have been replaced, with easy to use 'follow the line on the floor' when you push a button and the inventory only appears when you're at a store. The line on the floor disappears, so its not a blunt cheat so much as a brief hint if you need it.
Dead Space 2 takes you through extra steps that Dead Space 1 didn't really touch on to teach and inform you extra ways to use your powers. Such as using telekinesis to pick up and throw items at enemies that seems to damage them more than your guns can.
The station has stores that allow you to sell your items, buy more weapons, ammo, health and suits to wear. Each suit now has a special buff, which feels good and it give you more choice and our hero Issac will have more style! Buffs like weapon X does more damage, more health when you use health packs, more air and so on. You can still find health and ammo in a lot of places. Dead Space 1 and 2 both reward you for looking around, but for the most part if it has a light, there's something in it.
You'll also get energy nodes that you go to upgrade benches and upgrade your weapons, suits, stasis powers and so on with simple to follow upgrade paths. One node per point on the upgrade path and it might take you 3 points to upgrade what you want. Its a nice system. At some point you'll earn the right to resort your nodes so if you've put everything into stasis and air, you won't be screwed in later parts of the game.
The original game was good, but this adds a lot more to the gameplay, such as now in zero gravity areas, you don't just leap from point A to point B in a straight line, now you can jet around. You can also climb through air ducts in realistic third person fashion and there are also hacking mini games that boil down to, circle the left thumbstick until you find what you're looking for. These might not be ground breaking, but they feel like a good diversion from the norm.
Dead Space 2 offers a lot of new enemies and situations. New enemies that vomit at you, new raptor like humanoids that will flank you and call to each other before charging straight at you, new children, new exploding babies and much more. You'll find new bosses that offer more variety than the original game's bosses. All of the enemies are back from Dead Space 1, but this time the developers have gone through, reskinned old enemies and offered more variety in every creature. It won't just be the same mutated man in a labcoat, it will be a variety of people and genders. It feels good and fresh in what could have easily been just a same old rehash. Speaking of a rehash, while you're in space, you're no longer on a space ship, now you're on a space station that has a lot of different areas, slums, apartments, med labs, and so on. Its all about diversity here.
The game has improved little details such as the arm extension into walls. It just feels fresh while feeling very familiar. There is also tacked on multi-player that requires you to have an Origin account that features 4 players as engineers vs 4 players as enemies. So that's good I guess, but the single player experience is the real star here.
For anyone that truly wants the game it has been on sale for $5 pretty frequently. Give it some time. Otherwise, I'd say the game is worth $20 and I'm cheap.