Xbox 360 Review: Dead Space 2

The Necromorphs are back…

In space, no-one can hear you scream. In your living room though, everyone can! This is what quite a few of us experienced during the first Dead Space…plenty of jumpy moments, claustrophobic surroundings and a constant feeling of dread. Add in aliens that don’t die by conventional means like headshots and you have quite the survival horror on your hands…Visceral obviously took a lot of pointers from the likes of Resident Evil, but they managed to take it one step further…but can they do again for the sequel?

The sequel takes place 3 years after the last game and you once again play as Isaac Clarke, but he is a mess since the last game. He’s suffering dementia that will eventually kill him if he doesn’t get the right help; he’s also seeing visions of his dead girlfriend. There’s a new infestation of Necromorphs on the space installation he’s on and if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s being hunted down. The story is gripping and has tons of twists and turns that I never saw coming, I won’t go into specifics, actually I’m not even allowed to…but you will enjoy the plot from start to finish.

The game still has the same claustrophobic feeling of the original, except now it’s even more terrifying and unpredictable. Enemies are varied and some attack from long range by projecting acid vomit at you Exorcist-style. Others will just try and rip you limb from limb, but each enemy poses a real risk of defeat and once again you can’t pause the game to heal or switch weapons, it’s all done in-game.

Isaac has quite a few weapons at his disposal, as long as he has the credits to pay for them and the nodes to upgrade them. There are only specific places along the game where you can buy and upgrade your weapons and armour and to upgrade fully will take several playthroughs. You’ll also have to contend with using save stations, but don’t get too used to using them as on Hardcore difficulty you are only allotted 3 total saves for your total playthrough and you can’t take your upgraded items with you from a past playthrough. This is perhaps the most difficult achievement I’ve heard of in some time and it’ll be interesting to see if anyone actually manages it.

The game is mostly linear, but there are a few off-the-beat areas where you can find audio/text logs, ammo, credits and nodes. Usually though these areas will result in some kind of surprise attack from the Necromorphs, which sometimes made me leap out of my chair. I must admit, I haven’t come across a great survival horror game like this since the original Resident Evil. Oh sure, Resi 4 was great…but it didn’t have anywhere enough scary moments like in the Dead Space games. The claustrophobia that engulfs the entire atmosphere of both game and player is unlike anything I’ve seen this generation, almost so that some may be actually too scared to play on till the end.

The campaign will take a dozen or so hours to complete, but like I said you’ll need to replay it several times to upgrade everything as well as attempting the rather difficult sounding Hardcore mode. Multiplayer is also included in the sequel where you play as either Engineers or Necromorphs. The engineers must hold certain areas while the Necromorphs try and take them out, but luckily you switch between the two throughout a match for balance. It is a little disappointing, but thankfully there are no multiplayer achievements.

Dead Space 2 has seen quite the graphical upgrade from its predecessor. The action is always smooth, the environments are beautifully grim and the character models are superbly detailed. Voice-acting is brilliant; while the music and sound effects are the real star of the show…they add such tension and confusion to the mix that enemies will catch you off guard as a result. It makes everything that bit more terrifyingly claustrophobic and in the end, that’s exactly what you want from a horror game such as this.

The Verdict

Dead Space 2 is truly a frightening game, but also a worthy sequel that surpasses the original in terms of scares and action. The story is gripping and the gameplay is second to none with some amazingly scary enemies to fight and some truly terrifying moments that will make any gamer jump out of their skin. Sleep tight…don’t let the Necromorphs bite…