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Dead Space is a fantastic horror game with a focus on dismemberment-based gunplay. It spawned a comic book, films, the prequel Dead Space: Extraction which is a rail shooter, and two sequels. Dead Space 2 continues the story of Isaac Clarke and his fight against the Necromorphs. Developed by Visceral Games and published by EA, Dead Space 2 was released for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in January, 2011. For this review, I played the PC version. Unfortunately, the Severed DLC did not make it to PC nor did Dead Space Ignition. There are four special rooms in the game which are only unlocked by completing Ignition but there is a workaround to get into them on PC. Much like the PC version of the first game, I would highly recommend you consult the game’s PCGamingWiki page because there are several issues I would suggest you address before playing.
You do have the option to watch a recap of the events of the first game so you’re all caught up with the story if you want. Dead Space 2 is set three years after the events of the first game and the setting is the Sprawl, a space station on the last remaining shard of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Isaac is in an insane asylum when a Necromorph outbreak allows him to escape and he frequently has hallucinations of Nicole, his deceased girlfriend. Isaac is contacted by NPC’s and learns that a new Marker was built using the information from Isaac and Nolan Stross’ brains. Nolan Stross was a character in the film Dead Space: Aftermath. Isaac sets out on a quest to destroy the Marker and meets up with CEC Pilot Ellie Langford who agrees to accompany him on his mission and look after Stross. This time around Isaac is voiced and the performance is pretty good as is the rest of the voice acting. I thought the plot was okay but not as good as the plot in the first game.
Isaac can interact with NPC’s through his RIG and there is no HUD but Isaac’s health and stasis levels are represented on his suit. Isaac can walk, run, perform a melee attack, stomp, interact with things in the environments, and hack things. He eventually equips himself with the stasis and kinesis modules. Stasis allows him to slow down mechanisms and enemies for a brief time and kinesis allows him to grab and throw objects. Stasis can be restored by using stasis packs or from stasis recharge stations. However, stasis does partially recharge after a certain amount of time. You will traverse through zero gravity areas where you can now freely float and boost around which is actually quite enjoyable. Some areas are exposed to the vacuum of space in which case Isaac’s suit will provide him oxygen for a limited time. Oxygen can be restored from Oxygen Recharge Stations. You can use your locator to see where you need to go but it can also point you to the nearest save station, store, or bench. Dead Space 2 is a much faster-paced game than the original and movement and combat feel more fluid which I appreciate. Isaac doesn’t move as slowly this time around but the dismemberment-based gunplay is still the same. You still want to aim for the limbs and you want to make every shot count.
All of the weapons from the previous game are present here along with some new ones including the Javelin Gun, Seeker Rifle, Detonator Gun, and Rivet Gun, and they do have secondary fire modes. The Javelin Gun fires spears which can impale enemies and you can electrify them which provides extremely satisfying results. The Seeker Rifle fires a single long-range round and it’s secondary fire allows you to zoom in. The Detonator Gun deploys proximity mines and the secondary fire can disarm them for recovery. From what I researched, the Rivet Gun was available in the European Collector’s Edition or as a pre-order bonus from certain stores. I think it’s available as DLC but I disabled the DLC for a very specific reason. I played the Steam version and all weapons and suits are unlocked from the start due to DLC. You can remove the DLC by downloading and using the original executable which is what I did. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t work with the Origin version. Anyway, you can still slice up enemies with the Ripper, burn them with the flamethrower, pummel them with blasts from the pulse rifle, blow them up with the contact beam, decimate them with the line gun, push them away with the force gun, and cut them up into pieces with the plasma cutter. To acquire and equip new weapons, you must first find the schematics and bring them to a store so they’re downloaded for purchase.
Items, stores, and benches make a return. Throughout the environments are items like med packs which can restore your health, ammo, credits, stasis packs, schematics, power nodes, semiconductors which can be sold for credits, and logs which provide some backstory. You can shoot, punch, or stomp on dead bodies so they reveal items. They can also be found just lying around or in containers. Some items can be seen in hard-to-reach places, requiring the use of kinesis to acquire. Stores are scattered around and are where you can purchase and sell items and store items in your safe. You’ll need the schematics before you can buy things like ammo, med packs, weapons, and suits. New suits will increase your inventory space and armor and some suits do provide bonuses like decreased stasis recharge time and store discounts. Like stores, benches are also scattered around and allow you to use the power nodes you’ve collected to upgrade your weapons, RIG, and stasis module. Eventually, you’ll unlock the respec ability where you can remove all installed nodes for reuse but it does cost credits. You can upgrade your RIG for increased oxygen, health, and damage which means the damage of impalement from hurling items like spears at enemies through the use of kinesis. You can upgrade stasis duration, how many shots you can fire before it needs to recharge, and how quickly it recharges. You can also upgrade your weapons by increasing their damage output, ammo capacity, and reload speed, among some others. Power Nodes can also be used to gain access to certain rooms which usually house goodies.
You’re going to blow away tons of Necromorphs in Dead Space 2 and many of the enemy types from the previous game make a return. You’ll engage a lot of slashers, leapers, lurkers, and their enhanced variants late in the game. You should still stay far away from exploders, Brutes are still very dangerous, and swarmers are actually less annoying here. New to the roster are crawlers, cysts, nests, pukers, tripods, stalkers, the ubermorph, and the pack. Crawlers are reanimated babies with explosive sacs in their stomachs. Cysts can be found on the ground and walls and launch explosives when you get near them. Nests are only encountered in zero gravity areas. They are large Necromorphs with tentacles that fire homing projectiles. Pukers project corrosive bile that can temporarily slow you down. Tripods are not encountered often but they are dangerous. They are three-legged Necromorphs that can strike and impale you. Stalkers are fast moving Necromorphs that like to hide around environments before rushing straight for you and they can knock you down. The Ubermorph is encountered late in the game and can regenerate limbs which means you don’t want to waste too much ammo on it. And the pack are childlike Necromorphs which will attack you in large numbers. The stasis module is one of the most useful tools at your disposal, especially when you’re outnumbered. Kinesis can prove to be helpful, too. There are explosive canisters lying around which can be hurled at enemies. There’s also stasis canisters that can be hurled at them and will slow them down upon impact. You can basically hurl anything that can be grabbed with kinesis including spears which can impale enemies.
There are five difficulty modes and the hardest difficulty, Hard Core, needs to be unlocked. In Hard Core, you’ll only find the bare minimum of health and ammo and you can only save three times. You’ll be traversing through various areas on the Sprawl and the Ishimura and many objectives require you to go from point A to B but you will have to solve some basic puzzles, many of which require the use of kinesis to move objects around. You’ll also have to use stasis in some scenarios. Most of the puzzles aren’t hard to figure out and like the first game, the environments are linear with plenty of rooms and areas off to the side that usually contain items. Enemies typically rush you, some fire projectiles, and there are several areas where you’ll be surrounded and have to fend them off. They will often appear behind you and come pouring in from multiple directions, sometimes making it feel like nowhere is safe. It’s always wise to make sure you have plenty of ammo for your weapons and a med pack or two because you never know what’s around the next corner and the areas late in the game like to throw numerous enemies at you at once. Enemies aren’t the only threats you’ll have to worry about. If you break decompression windows, that will result in your death. You’ll have to watch out for auto-defense lasers, electricity, and mechanisms that can destroy you. The atmosphere is still creepy as fuck but Dead Space 2 doesn’t convey the same sense of isolation and loneliness as the first game.
Dead Space 2 looks a hell of a lot better than the first game. The visual presentation is clean, there’s a bit more color, the environments are well detailed, and the lighting is excellent. There’s plenty of objects, debris, bodies, and blood scattered all over the environments and enemies will spew blood when they take damage and it’s extremely satisfying watching their body parts fly through the air as you slice them up. The audio work is phenomenal with an ambient and tense soundtrack that really helps drive home the tone of the game. The weapons fire sounds powerful and satisfying and enemies will make nasty noises along with growls and screeches. There’s nice squishy sounds when they take damage and you’ll often hear the sounds of people screaming in fear and agony somewhere in the distance, especially in the beginning of the game. On the technical side, I didn’t encounter any frame rate issues but the game does have other issues and many of them can be addressed before playing. Apparently, the in-game vsync caps the frame rate at thirty so you may want to enable it externally instead. The game has mouse issues that can be resolved but if you use the fix provided on the game’s PCGamingWiki page, it can cause issues in multiplayer. And if you decide to play with the original executable so everything isn’t unlocked from the get-go then you can’t use the mouse fix. Finally, there’s a special suit that you can unlock by beating the game on Zealot or Hard Core, but apparently they don’t unlock properly unless you beat the game in a single playthrough. There is a fix for it.
I had a much better time with Dead Space 2 than I did with the original game and I had a blast with the original. The gameplay here is improved on all levels. The atmosphere and tension in Dead Space 2 isn’t on the same level as the first game but the gameplay is faster-paced and feels more fluid, making it more enjoyable to play in my opinion. Killing Necromorphs has never felt more satisfying thanks to the excellent visual and gore effects. Dead Space 2 also includes a good amount of replay value. After beating the game you’ll unlock the New Game+ mode, the hard core difficulty, and new suits which means there are new schematics to find in the environments. The upgrade system becomes addictive and the items, schematics, and power nodes, give you plenty of reasons to explore. There is a multiplayer component which I didn’t try and it does require an EA Account to play. Apparently, you can play as a Necromorph in multiplayer which does sound pretty cool.
I would recommend Dead Space 2 to fans of the first game and horror games in general. It doesn’t have the same sense of dread as the first game and while the first game really excelled in terms of atmosphere, Dead Space 2 excels in gameplay. And the gameplay isn’t even bad in the first game. Dead Space 2 just does it much better. Being able to freely float around zero gravity areas is really cool, too, and everything just feels better. Dead Space 2 can be a very intense game but it’s also a brutal, gruesome, and creepy experience. Definitely check it out.