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Dead Space 2 review

The tension never lets up in this spectacular sequel

We%26rsquo;ve got some new tricks up our space suits

So developer Visceral Games seemed to remember everything that made the first game great, what about those additions to the foundation we mentioned all those paragraphs ago? The biggest difference this time around is how everything feels much bigger than before. There are a few action set pieces in the game that feel more like Uncharted 2 than Dead Space, but they ultimately fit the modified tone of the series.

An early example is an amazing train battle unlike anything seen in the first game. So much is happening at once you need fast reflexes while keeping your eyes glued to the screen throughout. Just when you think it’s over some new twist comes to the sequence and when it finally is done, you exhale the breath you’ve been holding during the entire scene. There are several more like it, but not enough as to completely change the flavor of the game.

Many of the best set pieces involve the more harrowing boss battles of the game, though many can’t really be classified like a boss battle in the truest sense. A few are based around fighting some new enemy type that is overwhelming you now, but eventually you get used to them and then they start popping up all over the place. Other climactic moments are just based around you fighting a whole bunch of Necromorphs at once and narrowly surviving. The more traditional boss fights are few, but are pretty special when they happen, though personally DS2’s final battle is a little lacking when compared to the finale of the first game.

Sequences like the train’s also make things more varied this time around, as do the many different settings. We loved searching the Ishimura in the first game, but after a while looking at the same guts of the ship got a little stale. Since DS2 takes place in a city, you see many more unique areas that have a new spin on trying to scare the shit out of you. We don’t want to ruin them all for you, but probably the scariest to us was slowly searching an apartment and coming upon the bloody and eerily calm nursery. It gives us chills just thinking about it.

The Zero-G portions of the game are great too. In certain areas Isaac can leave the ground and more or less fly around an open area. These sections have a similarly slow pace to the rest and are usually based around solving some puzzle before your oxygen runs out. The Zero-G also shakes things up by the virtue of those areas normally being incredibly big and open, a real change from the cramped quarters inside the Sprawl.

The only complaint about the setting is that originality in area design fades away some in the last couple hours. Sure, the areas are still well-designed, but they aren’t different enough from all the other parts of the dying space colony you’ve seen already, though it picks up again in the homestretch. Overall these additions don’t make DS2 monumentally different from the original, but it does keep everything fresh.

Who is Isaac Clarke?

Out of everything that changes in Dead Space 2, series hero Isaac is the one that has the most major transformation, and that change reminds us of Sigourney Weaver (stick with us here). Anyone who played the brilliant original knows the series owes more than a little to the Alien films. And just as Dead Space’s survivor protagonist and sterile hallways of a seemingly empty ship were similar to Alien, Dead Space 2 ramps up the action in a ruined city full of deadly creatures just like Aliens. Isaac goes on a similar journey to Alien’s Ripley too, from scared victim to tough ‘morph killer once he’s given a purpose outside of just living through the day.

Above: Just saying…

We don’t want to spoil too much of the first game, but even though Isaac successfully lived through it, he lost everything but his life. He starts in such a low place in DS2’s too-cool-to-reveal opening that he can only go up. As Isaac gets out of his haze and finds just the smallest sliver of hope to hold on to, you watch his character grow over the course of the game and you end up empathizing with him much more this time. Despite what some early coverage may have led you to believe, Isaac hasn’t become a Jason Statham or Master Chief-type action star, he’s just more confident.

More Info

DescriptionKeeping almost everything that made the original great while taking suitable steps to amp up the fun, Dead Space 2 will please both the series’ fans and those just starting with this haunting adventure.
Franchise nameDead Space
UK franchise nameDead Space
PlatformXbox 360, PS3, PC, iPhone
US censor ratingMature
UK censor rating18+
Release date25 January 2011 (US), 28 January 2011 (UK)