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  1. #1
    Shadow Hide You Vault Hunter's Avatar
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    Dead Space 2 Review - Xbox 360 by INTY



    Following up from my review of Dead Space 1, Dead Space 2 brings us to the current point of the series. I will note here that this review contains spoilers for Dead Space 1, so if you intend to play that, then don’t read this review. As with the first review, I have only played this game on the Xbox 360 console, so there may be some differences, particularly in the gameplay department, on other platform versions.

    Writing, themes and aesthetic.

    3 years after the events on the Ishimura, Isaac Clarke awakes on Titan Station, a space-born civilian colony established on one of Saturn’s moons. Having no memory of what occurred since the events from the first game, Isaac awakes into the world again, to find the Station under severe threat from a Necromorph up-rising, caused by a new Marker which he must destroy. Even worse, Isaac must also battle with his inner Demons, as his mind-severely disturbed by the Aegis 7 Marker from the first game, violently taunts and disturbs him, in the form of his deceased girlfriend, Nicole.

    The original Dead Space’s story was more tailored towards giving the player a very ‘Survival/Horror’ feel, rather than giving them a game with focus on the story. It was there but it was mainly to give context and while not being bad, was just nothing special. Dead Space 2 has a bit more of a focus on its story this time, offering a more substantial, self-supporting narrative and plot on a much greater scale-but not so much so that it distracts from the gameplay. As well as this, whereas Dead Space 1 had a very bland cast, Dead Space 2 offers a much better cast of interesting characters who again, voice their roles well for the most part. There are a few distractingly bad lines here and there but that’s about it. Speaking of which, Isaac Clarke actually talks this time around! Now, some people found this a bit distracting, and I can see why. I mean, in the first he doesn’t say a word, and now he’s having an emotional and inner conflict that’s causing him to talk with himself rather heatedly, as well as with the other characters. Personally I don’t mind this, and am willing to shove it aside for the extra character it does add to Isaac. As for his character, it is admittedly a bit bland, but he is likable. He’s…how should I put it…the nice, well-rounded guy we’re meant to feel sympathetic for while he struggles with his Psyche. It does work, and as I said, the writing in this game never distracts from the gameplay too much, and while there is a better, perhaps more healthy emphasis on the writing, it still leaves the majority of the focus on the gameplay. Best of both, and balanced well amongst each other within this title I feel.

    Now-an important factor to this series: is Dead Space 2 a horror game? As I said with Dead Space 1, that game only held true horror experience within the first few hours while the Necromorphs were still mysterious to us, and there tactics unknown. While Dead Space 2 does have a widened array of the Necromorph horde, their tactics are still the same. They do have a few new tricks up their sleeves, but certainly not enough to support the game as a horror title due to their inability to truly have us rocking back and forth in our chairs any more. So, to follow up from the state Dead Space 1 left in, as mostly an action game that was scary to start off, Dead Space 2 puts a lengthened focus on action this time around, which I’ll go into detail on later. As Dead Space 2 stands on its genre though, it is I feel a good continuation from the first game. They couldn’t do anything to support this game as a horror title all the way through, so they focused on the other half, and did it exceedingly well.

    One problem I definitely will say this game has with its themes though does actually lie in the Necromorphs, and will actually decide whether some people purchase this game or not. When I say this, I mean in that I think the developers did still feel a need to have some unsettling content in the game-and so some of the new Necromorphs are very disturbing. Children that run toward you in packs, and can be killed with little, almost comical ease, and Babies that crawl towards you, and when they get within proximity will explode. This isn’t horror so much as it is disturbing and unsettling, and feels a bit as though the developers only put it in the game for the sake of getting attention. If you think this content will unsettle you too much I’d advise giving the game a miss, as there are a few points where these enemies are literally thrown at you in tides.

    Noting on that the characters received more attention this time around, it looks as though the developers took the criticism for the original title to heart and did work towards polishing its issues off, most notably with the games look. Dead Space 2 is easily far better to look at, having a notably brighter and more polished look, with clearer, less murky and better made textures, while still retaining the very detailed models of the first game. Best of all the scenery in this game is far more fleshed out and varied-and the sound design in this is as well crafted and detailed as it was in the first title, very much adding to the un-nerving atmosphere of the game.



    Isaac in fancy new graphics, that are so nice they even make this new Necromorph breed look good.

    Dead Space 2 has seen a great improvement as far as its writing goes, with far more attention to the now interesting characters and their back-stories, and the developers made a good decision to focus the themes more towards action than horror for sake of continuation from the first game. As far as the games presentation go, this game saw an all-around upgrade, that was very attentive and receptive of the previous games criticisms-using it to great effect in this title. The scenery now does a great job of adding distinction to the separate portions of the game, and all looks great. Very aesthetically pleasing.

    Gameplay

    At core, not much was expanded on for the game-play with Dead Space 2, but what it does do well is flesh out what was good about Dead Space 1’s gameplay, very well. Rather than focusing on new core aspects, Dead Space 2 focuses on simply expanding what was there with 1. The game still heavily encourages you to look around, and even more so now. Schematics are still used to unlock items at the Store and numerous Power Nodes are ‘sort of hidden around’-this being more apparent in some areas than in others, likely due to different design teams. More emphasis is also put on making the doors that need to be unlocked with Power Nodes far more of an important factor, some times containing very important items, holding a lot of risked reward for it. Isaac still has a great variety of guns featuring every weapon from the first title, alongside with his Stasis and Telekenesis, though certain aspects have been slightly buffed, nerfed or changed mainly for balance reasons and mainly around weapon secondary fire modes. The Arsennal has seen a few new members as well, that by no means feel like ‘tacked on new weapons’, and have their own distinguishing effects in combat, such as the Seeker Rifle, a high-tech Snipers Rifle, or the Detonator, a gun that attaches explosives to a surface, that emit a wall of lasers, that if passed through by an enemy-will…eh, the name for the weapon is self-explanatory.


    ’Tactical dismemberment’ at it’s potential best..

    Another great addition to his abilities is with an alteration to Telekinesis. If you read my review for Dead Space 1, I mentioned the only real reason to throw the body parts of your dead enemies at another Necromorph, would be if you were sadistic. Now with certain body parts, namely a Slashers bladed arm, you can hurl these projectiles at your enemies for a rewarding and satisfying kill, or breathing space, sending them far away from you. And if you are sadistic, you can take some extra time to aim these shots to make an art gallery with your Necromorph victims-yes, you can pin enemies to walls with these projectiles. As well as having new weapons, and an upgrade to his abilities, Isaac also has some new suit options available to him, offering different advantages over others. The advantages are how ever rather minor, and suits are still evidentially tiered to a degree, so there’s not much the suits offer in terms of approach to combat so much as just making you more prepared for it.

    It’s very nice that Isaac’s seen such a wonderful expansion to his combat effectiveness, how ever it’s well-needed considering some of the lethal additions to the Necromorphs ranks that clearly had a lot of thought put into them. The Puker is a brilliant example of this, an enemy who can hurl a ball of caustic vomit at you which manages to slow you down for a few seconds. One thing that is evident with the new Necromorphs is that they were designed to work in conjunction with the other Necromorphs to change the battles in certain ways. For instance, the Leaper enemy is incredibly fast, but if skilled you’d have a chance of repelling it quickly. If a Puker manages to get you while you’re turning to face the Leaper, you’ll obviously not be able to. Another obvious thing is that the developers simply wanted the new enemies to fit in with the game smoothly, and so they also fit in well with the new weapons. I said a great aspect to the first game was that different weapons held advantages for different enemies. In this, a new enemy, the Stalker, will hide out of sight, hoping to catch you off guard before charging straight towards you, aiming to deal you a heavy blow. The Detonator gun is perfect for dealing with these guys as you can just put them in their paths. That’s a great thing with this game, everything new fits in well with the old aspects of the game and expands the experiences you can have highly.

    Unfortunately there are still some issues with this title in the game-play department. Environmental instant kills are still rife and still break the flow of the game, and more emphasis appears to have been put into them this time. A large problem as well with these is that the game has a rather infamous difficulty setting, ‘Hardcore’, in which you play a campaign on the second highest difficult setting, and only permitted three Save Points and no Checkpoins, meaning if you die you go back to your last save Point. The instant-killing facets of the environment don’t translate well to this difficulty setting at all, for obvious reasons. Another gripe I have is with that Zero-Gravity sequences appear to have had a change. In the original game, you aimed at the surface you wanted to jump to and do so. In this you’re actually able to fly around free-style. That sounds good, how ever you control terribly when in mid-air, and I found myself being very disoriented by it.

    Another thing I’d like to touch on with this title is there are numerous sequences in the game, that are very high-octane action that function differently from the Regular ‘being able to control the character while he shoots Necromorphs.’ This game was more tiered towards the action and it really put its all in to it, giving some fantastic, high-octane sequences where when a lesser game would simply made it a ‘uber cool cutscene’, the developers took the time to make these sequences a ‘damn cool game sequence’.

    So, you can expect the same experience in this game as you got from the first, only far more expanded upon, with a lot of new, well-executed additions that fit in perfectly, and an experience that is far more tailored towards the action, giving you some brilliant sequences. There are still times where you’ll be annoyed due to dying instantly because the tip of your foot touched the edge of one such facet of the environment that could kill you instantly, though.

    Another new option Dead Space 2 featured was a Multi-Player, and…this is not the meat of the game at all. The multi-player uses a fairly basic concept, 2 teams of 4 play off against each other in an objective based versus mode, with one team attempting to prevent the other from completing their objective. The two teams are the human team, having access to both Stasis and the Pulse Rifle (a joint machine gun and Grenade Launcher)…and yes, for me to have said Human team you guessed it: the other team is the Necromorph team, allowing you to play as the Spitter, Lurker, Puker and Pack Member.

    Now a lot of fans were very hesitant about this game mode initially-with fair reason. Dead Space had gained it’s approval in the gaming world as a Single-Player game only, with no tacked on Multi-player, so for fans to hear that both E.A had taken a bigger part in Dead Space 2’s production, and that a Multi-Player had been introduced, it did warn of a potentially tacked on Multi-Player of low quality. In essence, the Multi-Player is actually well formed, how ever the longevity the Multi-Player offers is questionable.

    There’s one game mode in which the human team must work together to retrieve three bomb parts from the map, and then when the bomb has been constructed the team must assist the bomb carrier by protecting him to the drop-off point. Humans capabilities are fairly well balanced considering the emphasis on having you work together as a team. Having access to a stasis blast to take care of a Necromorph, and the weapons you have access to provide a good amount of protection from singular Necromorphs, so if one Necromorph's being a lone Wolf, you will be able to kill them with relative ease. How ever if 2 Necromrophs are working together you will be killed most likely-unless you perform very well against them. It’s very much critical for you to work with your team-mates in this game, this is not a Lone Wolf Multi-Player by any means and this is very well enforced.

    As for the Necromorphs, you have a nicely varied selection available to you. The Lurker allows you to shoot enemies from a distance for tactical damage, the Puker being a bit more tactical by using its Vomit to slow down the human players for your team-mates, the Pack member allows for some simple melee striking to add some chaos to the battle, and the Spitter allows for a mix between the Lurker and the Packs play-style. Each Necromorph has the ability to put a Human player into a situation where they must rapidly press the A button to escape a killing, other-wise inescapable grip, but this can also be countered by a free human shooting the Necromoprh off of them. Necrormorphs, when working as a team can manage to affect the human team very heavily, in their progression.

    Both teams are fairly well-balanced and designed in countering each other in their objectives well, and this is mainly based on the back of what was there with the single-player campaign, but there is a fair amount of depth in the game-play here. That being said, it rarely will transfer into a random server you join, as it can be hard to organize a team with complete randomers, and with how heavily influenced the team-work is in this game-mode, you won’t find much structure or enjoyment in this unless you set-up your own lobby with some friends. Even still, there is only one game mode and 5 maps, so there wasn’t much emphasis on keeping what’s here fresh.

    Overall the Multi-Player is actually fairly well made, how ever due to the way you access it and the emphasis the developers put into it on its longevity, this won’t provide you with a long-standing amount of enjoyment, unless your bring some friends.



    Dead Space 2 is an upgrade to its predecessor in almost every way, and makes for not only a damn good playing experience, but also one that offers a memorable story and characters along with it. The story tells itself well, the game-plays brilliantly and it’s all very aesthetically pleasing. If you liked the first, get this one-unless the slight ramp in forcefully disturbing content is too much for you. If you thought the first game was a little bit more flat for you, give this one a go-I’m certain if you enjoy skilful, varied and intuitive combat, and fantastic adrenaline-pumping sequences-boosted by both horror and action, you won’t be disappointed in this title.

    Now, while Dead Space 2 does have a story-based D.L.C, Severed, I won’t be writing a review for that, as the purpose behind these 2 reviews were to have them written in relevance for Dead Space 3’s launch, and it is unknown whether or not that D.L.C’s events do tie in to the third game. If people would like a review for the D.L.C at a later date I will do so, but what I will say is that Severed is a high quality D.L.C and if you enjoy the Dead Space experience, I would highly recommend downloading it.

    Not long left until Dead Space 3.

    -INTY
    Last edited by Vault Hunter; 04-10-2013 at 12:10 PM.

  2. #2
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    -NOTE-
    This is not a place to discuss any progress or events in Dead Space 3, speculation at the least will be allowed but if you wish to discuss anything further, take it to the official thread made by Debby
    http://www.gamesforum.com/general-ga...ace-3-a-53106/

  3. #3
    Prosecuting with style Vyse the Legend's Avatar
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    Nicely written Inty, as I assumed after reading your first one, figured this would be well worth a read, and I was right.

    Personally I would also classify Dead Space 2 as being the better of the two games, but only really because of the stand out storyline and character improvements. As you mentioned, they really did some excellent work expanding on Isaac as a character, and not just him, but I felt the audio/diary logs you could pick up, also helped to develop the setting more than the first game did.

    Outside that, I found the game to largely be more of the same, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just perhaps a bit too predictable in some departments, (such as the obvious 'scares' used against you). Still, well worth playing through for anyone who hasn't tried the game yet.

  4. #4
    Shadow Hide You Vault Hunter's Avatar
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    Great review again Dan. I know you've got your hands full with the Dead Space 3 review you're planning to do but I actually wouldn't mind a Severed review as well (assuming you'd actually enjoy doing it ofcourse). Been a good while since played it but from what I remember it was a very good DLC. Can only hope the Dead Space 3 DLC is as good

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