I have been a fan of the horror survival genre for a long time. I love the feeling of my heart pounding, my pulse racing, and my adrenaline pumping when I am playing a horror game. I even love it when I get so scared that I let out a little girly yelp when some hideous thing jumps out at me. All these things are what make horror survival games so great to me, but as of late, this genre of games has really gone down hill.
Dead Space 2 looks to change this free fall though. Visceral games much anticipated sequel, to the game that I considered the beacon of hope for the horror survival genre, has taken its winning formula from Dead Space and refined it to create a memorable horror game.
Dead Space 2 picks up three years after the first game, and again you reprise your role as Isaac Clark. He awakes in a hospital on a metropolis called Sprawl. Sprawl is infested with necromorphs, and again Isaac must stop the necromorphs, and escape with his life. There are plenty of twist and turns, and of course, there is plenty of necromorph limb dismembering.
In fact, you can tell that the developers went for a more action packed experience with Dead Space 2. There is rarely an area that you’re walking through that you do not have to fend off a few necromorphs. I was a bit surprised by this move, but it did not impact the overall feel of the game. It still had the dark, creepy feel of the first game, but added in more action.
This action is joined with some of the most solid gameplay that you will experience. It builds off of the gameplay in Dead Space and refines it to make it even more solid. You are still playing in the third person view, and the game has one of my most favorite HUDs that is now more streamlined and easier to use. The shooting is solid as well, and still makes you use strategic dismembering to kill your enemies, and it also requires you to use stasis more to slow down your enemies. The game even brought back some great moments from the first game.
The first game presented some really fun zero gravity levels that allowed you to jump from point to point in zero gravity zones. These sections of the game make their return in Dead Space 2, but your experience with them is quite different. No longer do you just look at the spot you want to go to and jump, but rather your suite is equipped with jet propelled devices that allow you to move freely within the zero gravity area. It allowed the developers to do more with the zero gravity zones and presented some really fun moments in the game, and nice breaks from the hordes of the necromorphs.
Not only is the gameplay better than ever, but also the visuals in this game really shine. I became engrossed in the surroundings around me. The character models are great, and the weapons all look different and unique. You really get lost in the dark beauty of the game, and it sets up the mood perfectly
After seeing how great the game looks and how well it plays, you will find that there is so much more to the game. This game pulled me into the world that it was projecting. The noises of the screams from people as you walk through the apartment district to the cries of babies when you are in a school, it really pulls you in and that is what makes it such a great horror game. As you walk down each dark corridor, you can hear the necromorphs moving in the walls, and you just hope that they will not jump of the wall or the door you are walking by, and even though you are sure that it is going to happen, it still gives you a little jolt when they do. It is moments like these that make the game so great.
But, this game is not perfect. It does build one of the most mesmerizing horror games that I have played, but it fell short in a few areas that I was really expecting more from. The biggest disappointment is the story. You encounter the same situations over and over. You are trying to get a point and something happens and you have to find a different way to that point, and this happens far to often. The dialogue is also repetitious, but it was nice that Isaac finally has a voice. Overall though, I really expected a lot from this aspect of the game. I wanted to know more about the marker and its origins, but it really doesn’t explain anything. It left me wanting more by the end of the game.
I was also disappointed by the fact that they took many of the mini boss battles out of the game. In Dead Space, you would be presented with some small bosses throughout the game, and it added more difficulty and change to the game. So I was disappointed when the game did not have these battles this time around.
Another aspect that bothered me was the fact there was not many variations in levels. You experience many of the same level types over and over, with some variation every once and a while. Also, the levels felt more open, and it took away from the fear a little. In the first game, you would be walking through many small, closed levels, and you would have trouble getting way from enemies, but now it is much easier to dog them, and maneuver around them. There are also difficulty spikes that can frustrate as you are playing. There will points where enemies will seem like they never stop coming and instead of fighting them, you should just run away.
They also took the whole survival aspect out of the game, unless you are playing on hardcore, which is insanely hard. There is too much ammo and health in the game. I never got scared of dying or running out of health the whole time that I was playing. They did add a nice feature to the game that tells you the way to your objective, but if you went the opposite way of what it told you, you would find nodes and other things. So it was a great feature to help you get around, but it pointed out places to find things to upgrade your equipment, and kind of took the fun out of exploration.
The last problem that I had with the game was that it was a little too much like the first game. I know that it is not a bad thing, but they only added few new weapons, and a few new enemies, but everything else was pretty much the same. I just wish there was more new things.
These problems do not hurt the fact that it is one of the best horror games out there. It sucks you in and makes you part of its world. It will scare you over and over, and you will probably never get tired of it. The creatures are hideous, the weapons are awesome, and action is great. It has found a good median between an action game and a horror game, and I am really looking forward to what Dead Space will bring us in the future.
9.0 out of 10