Note: I haven't played multiplayer yet, and I won't for quite sometime. I didn't review that for this reason.
Dead Space 2 is an amazing game. I'm going to write about its scary moments, cool kills, and how much I dig the main character's internal struggle, but Dead Space 2 is about more than this. When I beat it for the first time, I sat on the couch with my heart racing and dissected the journey I had just taken. Then, I started my second playthrough, and when that was done, I jumped into a new game for the third time. Dead Space 2 is just that good.
It's been three years since the events of the first game, but protagonist Isaac Clarke still can't catch a break. At the beginning of Dead Space 2, he wakes on a space station known as the Sprawl and finds the place is overwhelmed by an outbreak of reanimated corpses called Necromorphs. From the very first moment of the game, Isaac's fighting for his life.
This is where you come in. As Isaac, you'll pick up your plasma cutter, don an engineering suit and take the fight to the beasts out to kill you. The overarching goal is to find and destroy the religious idol (known as the Marker) causing all of this, but the story that makes Dead Space 2 great is the internal war Isaac's fighting. Unlike Uncharted's Nathan Drake who can kill a few hundred pirates and never seem worn down by it, Isaac is totally ruined by the events of the original Dead Space. He saw things no man should have to during his time on the spaceship USG Ishimura, but it's the fact that Isaac's girlfriend died on the vessel after he encouraged her to work there that really haunts him.
Isaac's losing his mind in Dead Space 2. The guilt is tearing his very sanity apart. That's heavy stuff and it makes for a really engaging story. Isaac doesn't let anyone else in on the fact that he's coming unglued, so as a player I get to see who he really is and the facade he presents to the other characters. Isaac's internal conversations and hallucinations are among my favorite parts of this game.
But I have lots of favorite parts to Dead Space 2. Right behind Isaac's struggle on my list of cool stuff is the combat. It's more satisfying than it was in the original. Isaac's fast and light on his feet. You can stomp crates in a jiff and melee attack bodies for loot, grabbing things with your telekinesis is responsive, and mixing all of this together with the different weapons in the game is a blast. Slowing down a Necromorph, blowing off its arm, and using the severed limb to impale the foe on a wall is a thing of beauty that doesn't get old.
Dead Space 2 is pretty much the best haunted house attraction ever. Visceral stripped out the stuff that slowed down the original game (backtracking, getting disoriented, etc.) and ended up with a fast-paced game that's suspenseful and scary at the same time. You're funneled down these halls and corridors on your way from Point A to Point B, and ghouls pop out for you to blast. I know that "linear" is a bad word in the video game industry, but the package is so well done here that I can't knock Dead Space 2 for taking me on a very specific ride that's marked by awesome moments, environments that range from a cheery schoolhouse to pitch black rooms, and sound that's so well done I'd find myself trying to figure out if it was a monster making its move or my dog rummaging in the living room. Toss in some new disturbing enemies and surprises I won't ruin for you and you have a game that can feel like "the same old thing" at times but becomes much more than that as a whole.
I've already said that I've played the game over and over, so it's important to point out that no ride needs to be the same. Dead Space packs returning weapons such as the saw blade-spitting Ripper as well as brand new items like the Detonator and its trip mines. Each of these weapons -- along with your suit, telekinesis and stasis module -- can be upgraded for maximum butt-kicking, and then the progress can be saved and carried over to your next playthrough. These options and rewards are what kept me wanting to come back. There are tons of new suits (with new bonuses) to unlock and I always wanted to see what my next pimped-out weapon could do.
As much fun as all that is, the "go here and do this" structure does hamper the overarching story. The part about Isaac wrestling his demons is awesome, but the narrative driving the search for the Marker is a bit flat in comparison. Different characters are just popping up to tell you to go there and do that. I wouldn't have a problem with this structure if it ended with Isaac learning something or maturing as a protagonist, but we never get that moment where he takes charge of his own fate. He's always being pushed somewhere by someone.
Dead Space 2 is more than just an action game and it's more than a survival horror game -- it's a game that tells a really personal story about a guy who has been seriously scarred by the events around him. That premise alone makes it interesting, but Visceral Games melds it with rewarding combat, shocking enemies, and huge set pieces before tossing it into a world that's truly creepy and scary. I didn't find multiplayer that interesting and would've liked to have seen Isaac stop being an errand boy, but none of that spoils what you're getting here. The shocking moments, the gruesome deaths, and the fun of playing through this experience again and again are
what I took away from this one.
Dead Space 2 is an excellent game, and it's well worth your time and money.
One more thing. If you're truly devoted like myself, there's even a mode known as "Hardcore," and it's nothing less than sadistic. The enemies are brutal, the supplies are limited, there are no checkpoints, and if you die, you restart from your last save. Oh, and you can only save three times in the entire game. That's crazy talk, but damn, I did it.
Hard to the Core-50GS
Complete the game on Hard Core Setting