Dead Space 2

Review

posted 3/23/2011 by Tina Amini
other articles by Tina Amini
One Page Platforms: PS3
Dead Space 2 is a fantastic - sometimes harrowing, sometimes adrenaline-pumping - experience. Protagonist Isaac Clarke has a miserable fate. After his initial encounter with Necromorphs aboard the Ishimura ship, leading him to practically lose his mind to the influence of the Marker artifact in Dead Space 1, Isaac is yet again put to the task of escaping the horrors set by said ancient artifact. Dead Space 2 will confront Isaac with unfamiliar mutated forms of Necromorphs, as well as an even more prevalent and overbearing existence of the infamous religion blindly based around the belief that the Marker will be their savior. Isaac’s battle is no longer predominantly against his tangible enemies; he has to fight through an entire, misled community of worshippers hellbent on obstructing your mission.

As Isaac attempts to escape the clutches of both the Necromorphs as well as a creeping insanity intent on consuming him, he will slowly learn more about the Sprawl - a civilian space station built on what remains of a planet-cracking expedition on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Picking up the informational pieces via video and text logs from people who have worked on the site, Isaac discovers the conditions through which life slowly altered from normal to crudely violent. Wild claims from the Church of Unitology are scribbled on the walls, revealing simultaneously how misinformed and dedicated its members are. While Isaac is exploring and delving deeper into the storyline, he is dealing with his own difficulties and past. Flashbacks and random hallucinations bring Isaac back to dealing with his deceased girlfriend who haunts his journey throughout Dead Space 2. If there is one thing Isaac can rely on, it is the uncertainty of his entire situation, as well as the dire need to escape it.


Dead Space 2 often presents players with dramatic and disturbing scenes that can be difficult to experience for those with a lower tolerance for graphic violence. Isaac will watch as a deranged man gashes a knife through his throat out of desperation, and this is just in the first few minutes of the game. Clearly, something has disturbed this man to the point of embracing a self-inflicted, violent death and Isaac is about to find out for himself what exactly those experiences entailed. Visceral does a good job of psyching you out before you’ve even gotten to the more terrifying levels of the game.

Isaac is mainly alone in his journey. He is initially being directed across the Sprawl by a woman named Daina, but she is always separated from him behind the veil of a video feed. What small human encounter Isaac does make always involves witnessing people’s deaths. It’s obvious Isaac wants to help, but he’s often just a minute too late to rescue what humans there are left. It is tragic, and Visceral manages to implant players in an intentionally emotional perspective that renders them feeling helpless.


Of Isaac’s journey in the Sprawl, Dead Space 2 is as linear as its predecessor. However, Dead Space 2’s experiences take players on paths that don’t heavily and obviously revolve on one ship. Visceral has upped their game on the gameplay sequences in the sequel. Although I enjoyed my experiences with Dead Space 1, certain levels felt monotonous. Dead Space 2 will have you flying through much larger spaces of zero gravity, tumbling down a crashing train and fighting off Necromorphs while hanging upside down. Not only does this add to the variety of gameplay sequences, but it also heightens the level of fright. Being faced with a swarm of differently-abled Necromorphs is that much more alarming when stuck upside down with one leg tangled in wiring.

Within the zero-gravity levels, Isaac has to solve puzzles typically in line with somehow moving obstructions or activating power cells to be able to progress. Because not every room is immediately accessible - thereby forcing the player to find an ulterior means of gaining access - Visceral has effectively switched up the pace of the game. Rather than constantly being confronted with surprise attacks from Necromorphs popping out of ventilation shafts, players will have to tinker with various tactics to get a door to open, etc. Occasionally this involves really twisted methods, like [semi, non-storyline related spoiler alert] holding up a mutilated corpse to gain access into a recognition-based security enclosure [end spoiler alert]. Dead Space 2 puts you in situations that would make you uncomfortable in real life, and this works to the favor of the theme portrayed in the game as well as the amount of fun you will be having while exploring it.
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