Dead Space 2 Review
Whereas other survival horror franchises - such as Resident Evil - gradually shifted away from horror in favor of a more action-oriented experience, Dead Space took players by surprise with a game that really ratcheted up the scares. That’s why so many fans worried when EA announced that Dead Space 2 would feature much more action than its predecessor. But after having finished the main campaign, I can tell you without hesitation that the action in no way detracts from the scare-factor of Dead Space 2.
Dead Space 2 is a brilliant game - each piece of gameplay compliments the other without pushing too far into any one genre. At its core, yes, Dead Space 2 is all about horror. But all the other pieces of the game - the audio, the story, the set-pieces, and even the combat - work hand-in-hand to immerse the player in an atmospheric world. Dead Space 2 delivers across the board.
First off, the graphics are gorgeous. Dead Space 2 has some of the best lighting around. The environments always have some creepy lighting going on, whether it’s a small lamp flickering in a darkened corner, or cold florescent light illuminating a laboratory. The lighting is dynamic, too; often times, the lights will suddenly go out, and you’ll be thrust into darkness with nothing more than a flashlight to light your way. Once the monsters start closing in, get ready for some serious scares.
The audio is even more impressive. There are creepy sounds coming from all over the place. You’ll be spinning around thinking you’re hearing noises from every corner. The sudden shock sounds work great when an enemy appears - they’ll definitely make you jump. Some of my favorite audio appears in the later chapters (specifically chapter 10), when you’ll be hearing phantom voices whispering “ISSAAACCC” from the shadows.
Without spoiling anything, let me just say now that chapter 10 was my favorite part of the game. As a huge fan of the original Dead Space, I love that Visceral Games included it. I wish every sequel did something like it. If you haven’t played the game, you likely don’t know what I’m talking about, but trust me, Dead Space 2 pays some nice homage to the original.
In terms of storytelling, Dead Space 2 is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor. At first I was hesitant about Isaac Clark receiving a voice, but it works great and makes the story so much more compelling. Like the original, the voice acting is top notch, and you’ll grow an attachment to the main cast.
Dead Space 2 paints a believable portrait of the grieving-process and it yields a satisfying process. Although it would be nice to see a little more of Isaac’s motivations (instead of characters always telling him where to go and what to do), Dead Space 2 still provides some nice moments for Isaac Clark. He’s much more fleshed out and justifiably (if you played the first game) suffering from some post traumatic stress. I love that the game touches on character flaws, too. It’s believable and very well done.
Trust me when I say that Dead Space 2 is a scary game. While heavy on the scare-factor, Dead Space 2 also uses action and amazing set-piece moments to break up the momentary (and frustration!) of constant scares. Here, the action only better serves the spooky nature of the Dead Space universe. It doesn’t take anything away.
If you’re a fan of survival horror, you owe it to yourself to get this game. The Dead Space franchise is one of the few still breathing life into a dying genre.
Also, if you’re looking for other current survival horror games, I’d recommend you check out Dementium, Dementium II, (surprisingly good handheld horror titles) and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (features a fantastic story).