After starting a series as well as the original Dead Space did, it’s always a point concern that in an attempt to make the experience feel fresh again, the developer might just change too much. In contrast, there’s also worries that the second game will only succeed in watering down the series and leave it feeling stale and stagnant. This is a balance that Dead Space 2 struggles to keep through its 8-10 hour campaign.
Taking place three year after the events of the first Dead Space, main protagonist Issac Clarke awakes in a hospital wearing a straight jacket and having no memory of the past three years. Dead Space 2 successfully launches you into the story with an intense and disorientating beginning with Issac struggling to survive the recent infestation of Necromorphs while trying to find answers. Through the course of the campaign, Issac will make use of many weapons, armors, and a familiar upgrade system keeping you one step ahead of the Necromorphs.
Despite still lacking proper anti-aliasing, Dead Space 2 offers some greatly improved visuals from the previous game, with some great lighting effects and much improved character and facial animations. And of course, we get more of that awesome HUD-less gameplay that made the first game unique. Issac Clarke now has a voice and it fits surprisingly well. Visceral Games did a great job making Issac feel very mortal and believable, despite the Iron Man-esque suit and advanced weaponry.
Between curb-stomping Necromorphs and pimping out your suit, you’ll meet a small handful of characters that play large roles in the story’s development and progression. Unfortunately, these characters are not given enough chance to develop and that leaves most of the already small cast of characters very stunted and flat.
Turning the gore up to 11, Dead Space 2 offers enough excessive death scenes to keep even the most avid Mortal Kombat fans happy and includes a wide difficulty range that should please everyone. Gameplay throughout is very cinematic and engaging, mostly due to how effortlessly the game switches between gameplay and cut scenes. However, this causes several annoyances when sudden quick-time events pops up or gameplay resumes quickly and unexpectedly, leaving you at a disadvantage. Perhaps it’s a tactic to keep the player tense or on their toes, but it really only succeeds annoying the heck out of you.
Overall, Dead Space 2 takes the safe route in its design and gameplay by staying very true to the first game’s look and feel while focusing more on developing the main character and his story (even at the cost of supporting characters’ development). The whole journey leads up to a satisfying conclusion, complete with a little setup after the credits for the next installment in the Dead Space series.
- Graphics: 9
Dead Space 2 brings us space in a graphical quality that the series deserves. Textures are much sharper and character animations are even more fluid while still managing to stay easy on the resources. The game’s engine still lacks proper anti-aliasing, but this is made up for in lighting effects that create fantastic environments without having DOOM 3 flashbacks.
- Storyline: 7
Though slow to get started, the game does a great job of progressing the storyline from the original Dead Space and offers an enlightening look into the mental struggle of Issac as he progresses through this space-borne hell. The whole Unitology story arch is still rather confusing, but the game does a good job of keeping you informed with journals and logs found throughout the levels.
- Gameplay: 9
Like the previous installment, expect some cheap horror and quick-time events littered throughout an otherwise fantastic gameplay experience. Offering not only a solid 8-10 hours of cheap thrills and cinematic singleplayer gameplay, Dead Space 2 also features some tacked-on multiplayer that will give you a bit more enjoyment, but don’t expect too much.
- Controls: 8
For the most part, the controls are simple and straightforward, even in zero-gravity. There are a few awkward actions to deal with, but a bit of gameplay gets you acclimated to the changes easily enough.
- Lasting Appeal: 7
Despite its multiplayer features, Dead Space 2 probably won’t keep you entertained for much longer once you’ve completed the campaign. Granted, EA has promised some DLC, so for a few extra bucks you might be able to breathe a couple more hours of life into the game. If nothing else, it might make you want to play through both games again, just to fully appreciate the story arch between the two.