I don’t think it’s really easy to classify a game as a “Survival Horror” title anymore. Games too often take the “Action Horror” route, meaning that instead of scares you find yourself just mowing through enemies at breakneck speed while laughing and thinking marginally racist thoughts (maybe that’s just Resident Evil 5?). Not Dead Space 2. No, this one is definitely a game that freaks you the hell out whenever possible. But let’s not cover this whole review in the first paragraph. Here’s my review of Dead Space 2.
Visceral Games has thus far given us two games worth noting, the first Dead Space, a completely unexpected hit, and Dante’s Inferno, a game best not talked about any more now that I just remembered it. Taking everything from the first game and fine-tuning it for the sequel, Visceral Games has managed to craft a second game in a series worth existing and certainly worth the typical asking price for a Triple A title.
Back is Isaac Clarke, the unlikely hero from the first game, except now he’s a little off his gourd with some mild insanity and hallucinations and whatnot that you’d expect from someone whom saw all manner of unspeakable horrors previously. He’s on a space station called the Sprawl, and as you’d expect, Bad Things Happen. Specifically, Necromorphs return in spades and seek to throw him into a tailspin of nightmares.
So does Visceral Games succeed in nightmare-worthy throwing? Yes. Dead Space 2 is packed to the rafters with Monster Closets (events you trigger purposefully for a monster to jump out and go “BOO!”), but it doesn’t feel like the usual schlock here, mostly because encounters with enemies aren’t just simple, “Oh, I shot you and now you’re dead” battles. The controls are tight, which you’ll need since each extended encounter with enemies can leave you physically winded in the real world after you realize you’ve been panicking as a result of tough fights in-game. Basically, the Monster Closets only add to the stress and “horror” of being ill prepared for a fight against the looming threat of more and more Necromorphs.
Much like the early Resident Evil titles, ammo drops are a bit less frequent than you’d probably feel safe having, meaning you’ll have to be more careful with your shots and with what weapons you use. If you use just the first weapon, the Plasma Cutter (making its glorious return from the first Dead Space), for the extent of the game, you’ll pretty much only get ammo drops for that weapon, but if you decide to mix things up and try all the weapons out, ammo drops will start coming in a wider variety, meaning you’ll have ammo for everything but only a little bit for each. Take your pick which is better between sticking to one gun or having a chronic lack of ammo.
The presentation is what sells Dead Space 2 more than anything. Graphically (I don’t care about these whatsoever on average but people want to know), the game looks excellent. No one should be throwing any sort of hissy fits about textures or shadows or other random unimportant features as everything here is flawless. The sound, too, is in a league of its own, though at times it can be difficult to hear characters talking over the loudness of the rest of the sound mix, so be aware that you may need to adjust some settings to get things just right.
Oh, and I forgot to mention, but Dead Space 2 is surprisingly not for children. Blood flies everywhere, body parts litter the screen like clouds in the sky, and incredibly graphic fatalities occur to both the warped enemies and Isaac himself. No kids allowed on Sprawl! Go home and keep playing Call of Duty or whatever it is you kids play these days.
To cap things off, there is a multiplayer mode to the game that just sort of exists for no other reason than to be the standard multiplayer experience now required in games. The single-player campaign will last you between eight to 12 hours, but the multiplayer modes will probably wear thin after one or two. They just aren’t very good, pitting human characters against other players controlling Necromorphs. Both sides can level up with a progression system, but it’s really not worth the effort to continue playing this portion of the game. Stick to the single-player and you’ll be fine, though if you enjoy the multiplayer, more power to you.
And that’s it. Dead Space 2 is worth a rent, a buy, or a- well I guess those are the only two options, aren’t there? You can pick this up for the PS3, Xbox 360, or PC, and each version works perfectly fine, so get out there and start fighting Necromorphs. Your sanity depends on it.
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