One of the more entertaining features of Dead Space as a franchise has been the weaponry. Even the first weapon you are given - the Plasma Cutter - is capable enough to last you the entire game. With “benches” located around each level, you can upgrade any weapon to your desire. I started off relying heavily on my Plasma Cutter, and maxed out its damage and capacity nodes. Style of weaponry is varied, and there is one for any strategy you prefer. The Javelin is perfect for the show-off player, with a long spear penetrating your enemies and sticking them to a wall. The Line Gun is something akin to a rocket launcher style weapon that shoots out a powerful energy beam at enemies. The Ripper is my favorite of the bunch. I feel practically invincible with a spinning saw slicing Necromorphs apart. Enemies can barely approach me when I am equipped with this weapon. I can also choose to launch said saws, but I much prefer using them as a barrier between myself and my gangly foes. Each weapon has an alternate fire option, as well. What better way to make already fun weapons even more entertaining?
Isaac has the ability to use kinesis to grab items that are far away, and optionally launch them at enemies. I often used this to grab crates that are too far away, or even to pick up a light source to help light up a particularly dark hallway. Kinesis can be used to your advantage in creative ways. Stasis also returns in Dead Space 2, and can be used on fast-moving machinery or on charging enemies. Stasis is useful in a tight spot, and gives players another opportunity for a personalized combat experience because of this added battle tactic option.
One thing that consistently blew me away was the work of the texture artists. Every level is fairly unique from one another; from biohazard tarp-covered walls to black-lit hallways highlighting large spreads of blood stains. I caught myself staring at the texture detail of the tarp and being amazed. Blood animation, particularly when stomping on enemies either for insurance of death or for loot, glistens with a realistic likeness. Besides being fun to play, Dead Space 2 looks absolutely fantastic. Dead Space 2 also sports the same creative UI layout from its predecessor. Isaac’s health and stasis gauge are indicated on his suit, and a waypoint can be activated with indicating lights drawn on the floor.
Dead Space 2 features an array of enemies that we’ve already encountered in the first iteration. In addition to the deformed creatures brought back from Dead Space 1, Visceral has invented new enemies for Isaac to face. Several of these new enemies are formed from infected infants and children. Everyone knows horror-themed media are scarier when little kids are involved. The Crawler is an aptly named baby Necromorph that explodes on damage much like the Pregnant. The Lurker is perhaps the cousin of these baby Necromorphs, but with a unique ability to both crawl on walls and ceilings to shoot from its three tentacles. The Pack are a less mutated, and older breed of children. They swarm Isaac in large numbers. The most appealing and horrifying feature of these new enemies is the whining cries you hear from a distance. Wandering the day care center on the Sprawl and listening to the echos of a baby’s cry is one of the more unnerving moments in Dead Space 2. Everything that was once meant to establish a happy and pleasant children’s environment is now effectively part of its eerie setting. The variety of enemies certainly keeps you on your toes. You’ll have to respond appropriately to each enemy. Lurkers will attack from all angles, while Spitters will attack from a good distance away, while others, still, opt to charge at you directly.
Adjacent to this enthralling single player experience is a more fast-paced multiplayer one. In a similar vein to Valve’s Left 4 Dead franchise, Visceral has created a multiplayer versus experience which allows players to alternate rounds between playing as a mob of Isaacs or one of four different Necromorphs.
Within the five maps available, players on the human side will have various goals suited to the map. Within the Titan Mines, for instance, players will play as Tiedemann’s security force as they attempt to construct a shockmine to stop the outbreak of Necromorphs. In the Marker Lab, however, the human team will have to destroy Marker experiments. Because humans are always given an objective, it consistently feels like an unfair burden against the rapidly spawning Necromorph team whose only objective is to detain and kill the humans. Ultimately, although each map’s objective is unique, all it requires is holding a button for a boring amount of time while you are undoubtedly being attacked by swarms of Packs and Lurkers. In the end, no matter what team you play on, it always seems as if the Necromorphs are predetermined to win given their much easier objective as strict predators.
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