STAFF REVIEW of Dead Space 2 (Xbox 360)


Tuesday, January 25, 2011.
by Brent Roberts

Dead Space 2 Box art (Church of Unitology announcement coming through your earpiece)

"Welcome brothers and sisters of Xbox Addict to the Chapel of Unitology here on The Sprawl.... While you stay here please take a moment to".... (heavy static)... (Voice override) "Are you there??.... ARE YOU THERE??"... (heavy static)... "and under no circumstances should you ever"... (heavy static)... (Voice override) "Damit, increase signal
NOW!! Listen, you are in grave danger! Look here! In EA's latest installment into the survival horror genre, Dead Space 2, you will see that Isaac Clarke returns to this very location, not only to survive and stop the outbreak, but to seek the truth to a lot of questions...
Quickly, you must hurry, read the truth for yourself!!!... Seek out the... yourself... and always remember... (signal lost)...

Visceral games and EA have once again sent out minds into the depths of madness in Dead Space 2. Our famous engineer, Isaac Clarke returns after a horrific experience aboard the Ishimura, only to find that his troubles are far from over, and this time, he not only confronts necromorphs bent on killing him, but Isaac Clark must confront his own mind and try to decipher what really is the truth before his own mind plays a trick that even Isaac won't survive.

To make a triumphant return, Visceral made sure that Isaac had a massive lethal arsenal of weapons at his disposal. The infamous Plasma Cutter returns as well as the Ripper and more, but in Dead Space 2, Isaac gets some new toys to play with such as a Javelin Gun where one shot will literally send a necromorph off its feet, and impale them into the surface behind them. This is especially handy as it ties into a great new innovation from Visceral and EA, windows that can be blown out. The reason this is so innovative is because now you actually get to feel like you are in space. Now when you destroy a window to the outside, you will find yourself being sucked out just like all the enemies, and here is where your nerves will have to be like ice as you must shoot the controls above the security door to close it, or it's bye bye Isaac. Sounds simple, but when you have multiple necromorphs and flying debris to help push you out the window, you only have a few seconds before it's game over.

Not only does Isaac return with a vengeance, but the horror does as well. Dead Space 2 delivers a soul chilling horror story that will keep you gripped from beginning to end, and they do this by manipulating your greatest weapon, your mind. One of the biggest shoes that Dead Space 2 has to fill is the story. The story of Dead Space was very original, innovative, and produced brilliantly, and in Dead Space 2 Visceral and EA spared no expense to bring you a story that will make your heart explode, every nerve stand on end, and your mind blown away.



Visceral brings the iconic horror game to life by giving us some of the darkest, twisted, and dementedly beautiful graphics that we have ever seen. Your eyes will praise this game as you take in all the detail of The Sprawl and notice how every inch of this game is blanketed with such a feeling of pure terror. Some areas will seem familiar and even similar in some aspects to the original, however, these areas are few and far between and when compared to the overall detail and beauty of The Sprawl, they become a fleeting memory. The character modeling in Dead Space 2 is some of the best you will find in any survival horror game. Visceral has done an amazing job bringing terror to life and it's shows in every necromorph you encounter, as you see every little vein, tooth, and drop of bile ooze from your unfortunate victims.

A key component in any survival horror game is the lighting. In Dead Space 2, your eyes will behold some incredible lighting effects that accent the game's beauty and will drive every nerve ending in your body to stand straight up. Get ready for one of the most beautifully detailed and demented survival horror games of all time.



An aspect that will either make or break a survival horror game is the music. Dead Space brought us an acoustic gem that drove our ears and minds wild as we hear various noises echo throughout the halls of the Ishimura. Dead Space 2 delivers improvement in all the sounds and music that made the original such an iconic hit. We are treated to a little more orchestral soundtrack, however, when the ambient sounds get combined this time, Dead Space 2 unleashes a sonic marvel that will drive your heart rate up, make your hands sweat, and torment the very inner workings of your mind. Every aspect of Dead Space 2's audio has been taken into account and improved upon and your ears will hear every moment of it as you progress through your nightmare. You will hear crackling announcements warning of danger, panic stricken survivors running for their lives, security agents screaming as they are torn apart, even the inner thoughts of Isaac's own mind. Hearing a baby cry while witnessing
violent hallucinations screaming through your ears are just a sample of some of the psychotic sound combinations that permeate every facet of The Sprawl. All of these audio factors and more play a very intricate role in creating one of the best survival horror games you will ever play.


The gameplay of Dead Space 2 is simplistic in theory: Take what was good from the original game and improve it, take what was bad and innovate it into something good. You still get the same third person point of view, and you still get the same movement and gun control feelings but in Dead Space 2 everything seems more polished and natural which only adds to the realistic nature of the game and increases the horror immensely.

Some of the great new innovations that you have in Dead Space 2 would be the inclusion of a more Advanced Navigation system. Now when you use the navigation system by pressing in the RS, you can push up or down on the direction pad and generate different colored lines which signify store locations, save points, and work benches. This is an innovation which I found very useful as I spent time wandering around looking for work benches and stores in the original game. Now, within seconds, you can instantly search for nearby point of interest other than your checkpoint.

Another massive improvement is the zero g controls. The original game's zero g felt clunky at times, and this has all been improved upon by the addition of flight control thrusters built into the suit along the shoulders and feet. Controlling Isaac in space now is much more fluid and simplistic as you can steer in multiple directions by using the LS as a guide. Another improvement in the zero g gameplay is the ability to re-center your view to the ground with the push of one button. This helps should you try to navigate vertical twisted areas (there's a hint).

There is a new innovation in Dead Space 2, and that is the innovation of multiplayer. Normally games that are terrific single player games do not do well when it comes to multiplayer because you are trying to make a single player game into something that it originally is not. Dead Space 2's multiplayer takes similar cues from a game called Left 4 Dead. There are two teams, one of them humans and the other are the necromorphs. The humans will play Isaac like characters and try to work together to accomplish and achieve goals, the necromorphs are there to make sure that does not happen. Dead Space 2's multiplayer works hard to deliver a new experience, but some could argue that this should have been a feature that wasn't included until it was fully developed.

As we end our journey through The Sprawl, we wanted to deliberately leave out any information on the story because that is the heart and core of Dead Space 2. The story is one of the best you will ever experience, and every moment of it makes you feel like your heart will explode out of your chest.

To follow an iconic game like Dead Space, Visceral and EA had a monumental challenge ahead of them with Dead Space 2, and they set the bar for the competition at almost unattainable levels. When you have the combination of innovative and improved gameplay mixed with sounds and screams of unholy terror and a story that will haunt your mind and ultimately destroy it in the end, then you have one of, if not the best survival horror game ever, you have Dead Space 2.


Suggestions:
Improve the multiplayer and then this will be flawless.


Overall: 9.5 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10

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