By Michael Torelli
Dead Space 2 is the second installment in the horror/survival series focusing on engineer Isaac Clarke on his mission to learn more about the mysterious Marker. Taking place in the Sprawl, a massive space city, Clarke has to battle the monsters called necromorphs, surviving both reality and the hallucinations that now haunt him.
After Isaac made his escape from the USG Ishimura, a mining vessel in space, he thought his run in with the Unitologist Marker, a device created by man with negative effects, was over when he crashed the Ishimura into a neighboring planet.
Developed by EA, Dead Space 2 is a vamped up version of its predecessor. Waking up in an insanity ward, Clarke had tests run on him for the past three years after the Ishimura was abandoned and Clarke was found in space. Players will instantly realize that Clarke is stronger, faster and knows more about the situation at hand. He takes control of issues, whereas in the original he was the messenger boy for the other characters of the game. Clarke now has a voice, showing the player what he’s thinking and giving some actual human emotion to Dead Space 2. Clarke is also unsure of what is real and what is a hallucination due to the close contact with the Marker and is haunted by his past, which gives the players a new dilemma to face.
The graphics themselves have become smoother than the original, but still contains the eerie feeling that the player cannot really see farther ahead. Items are easier to see on the screen and players will be able to comprehend a lot of the tools on the screen. Players will be able to pick up brooms, poles and anything else at their disposal to throw at the necromorphs. Clarke has an upgraded kinesis module, allowing him to do more damage with the environment.
The soundtrack to Dead Space 2 is what makes or breaks the deal in regards to the scare factor. Just like the original, players will have music increasing in noise as the player nears a door, readies to turn a corner, and players will not be sure if a necromorph will appear or not. The music does not always imply that an enemy will appear, but it’s certain to keep players on the edge of their seats.
New necromorphs have also shown up in the game. One is called the pack, which are mutated children that, hence the name, hunt in a pack. One of the pack will confront Clarke, while the others sneak up from behind to attack him where the player cannot see. They are quick but take only a couple of shots to kill per child, which can quickly drain the player’s ammo if they aren’t careful.
New weapons have also made an appearance. One is called the javelin, which is a heavy duty gun that projects javelins that can impale necromorphs to the wall. The secondary fire that the javelin has electrocutes the impaled necromorph with the last javelin shot.
The game consists of fifteen chapters, each having a difficulty increase. Players are still able to upgrade their weapons, armor and stasis module. Stasis allows the player to freeze oncoming necromorphs, giving Clarke the upper hand. Stasis also recharges over time in Dead Space 2, a nice improvement from the first game.
There is also a multiplayer, which pits players against necromorphs. Players can either be humans or necromorphs, which keeps the fighting interesting. As players get better, they will level up and be able to receive new upgrades to their disposal.
This game doesn’t have too much wrong with it, but there are a few things that could be fixed. One is when Clarke is in zero gravity. The new “zero-g” concept is that players have complete control over Isaac while he is floating in space. However, Clarke is very quick to flip upside down and disorient the player at some points. Players can easily fix this by pressing a button on their controller, but it’s a nuisance when fighting necromorphs.
Another thing that was noticed was trouble understanding some of the players, namely Clarke’s dead ex-girlfriend, Nicole. She makes reappearances in the game, and when she does, it’s hard to understand her at some points without subtitles helping out. If her voice was a little clearer, this game would be near flawless.
If someone is interested in horror games, then they should pick up Dead Space 2 on either their Playstation 3 or Xbox 360. It’s very driven on story, so it’s recommended to play the original Dead Space first.