Dead Space 2 Review

I’ve had a long experience with survival horror from Resident Evil on PlayStationOne to the trauma of Silent Hill 2 and titles to now. The genre did get a little stagnant with gore over scares becoming more common. I missed Dead Space because I was busy playing other titles when it released, so the sequel was my first experience with the series.

It’s all gone back to the beginning.

Dead Space 2 is a mix of survival horror and Alien. It does have moments of genuine scares and others where the expected enemy pops out in front of the player; but with either attempt the title is atmospheric. It creates claustrophobia through the linear path that Clarke is taken on, but moving quickly and methodically is the best way to approach staying alive, it doesn’t always work the best.

Strangely enough, however, being careful is just as dangerous as being risky. There are times when taking a chance might save your life, it all depends on how fast reactions are. That’s what Dead Space 2 does the best. It creates chances to play in a variety of ways, even though most of the time, players might just be waiting for the next attack.

Dead Space 2 starts three years after the first title. Clarke is in a hospital and from the onset, it’s clear that his head isn’t in the best shape. From the beginning, Clarke is on a mission to find out what has happened to him and what is going on, but the truth doesn’t seem to be what he needs to hear.

The crisp visuals are highly accented by the intense amount of short battles, small exploration, and just using the different weapons and powers at Clarke’s disposal. Dead Space 2 uses light in a magnificent fashion, creating tunnels of visibility that eventually are covered in necromorphs attacking, spitting, or attempting to eviscerate Clarke.

It doesn’t have photo-realistic graphics, but they are still impressive. The emotions that are displayed by characters is among the best and the voice acting keeps the strange nature of the story alive. Each necromorph is similar/different enough to tell them apart; but when getting rushed, all that matters is using the correct weapon to kill them all.

The combat is reminiscent of the original Resident Evil. While moving and shooting is possible, the somewhat slow nature of Clarke adds a lot of tension to the title. Since Clarke carries four weapons, and each works for different situations, it’s important to carry the best all in one because reloading or switching weapons takes time players don’t usually have.

Dismemberment is still the way to win, though I found using the environment worked well in low ammo situations as long as I had enough space. The combat system is both open/closed, but smart players will learn how to conserve ammo.

I’m glad that surround is one of the standard features in titles because horror titles have one of the best utilization of the globe of possible sound. Dead Space 2 has one of the worst (meaning best) audio cue systems. Each time I heard a necromorph in the background speakers, I grew even more tense just waiting for it to pop out.

The voice acting of the title gives a better sense of what Clarke is trying to accomplish, but the title does suffer a bit of lack of direction in following Clarke. He’s escaping, but is haunted by visions, has to get cured, but doesn’t know if he can trust any one. It’s in a lot of directions for players to follow.

Dead Space 2 delivers in the premise of the title. It’s scary at the right points, has good presentation, and could be an early content for one of the scariest titles of the year. It’s one for 2011 to play.

It’s scary like survival horror used to be and that’s awesome.

Review Copy Provided by Publisher
Multiplayer will be reviewed separately as online was not available before launch