Reviews: Dead Space 2
Isaac Finds His Voice
Boy, does he talk a lot now. It's like being experimented on unlocked the part of his brain that lets him form sentences, instead of grunting and yelling loudly while stomping the floor (he still does that, but now curses profusely while doing so...it's quite amusing.) Anyway, I enjoyed this game a lot too, despite it losing a bit of that horror/dread aspect. Didn't matter as much to me, it was still damned creepy on a lot of parts and it continued Isaac's development curve. Seriously though. He's had enough of it by the end of this game. (and he's STILL not done!) I was hooked through the whole thing to make sure the space engie managed to live through hell. Again. It's still gross as hell and sure to please the gore junkies. Nothing like being killed via acidic vomit down your throat... I must note, for those who found the romp through the Ishimura a chore, this one feels...simplified. It doesn't feel as long, or as difficult. The Sprawl is still big, but not a convoluted maze of corridors and shafts. I didn't mind it much, but I still kinda miss that feeling of being hopelessly lost in a big, dead place. Eh, either way. It's a solid sequel, and quite important for Isaac's character.
A Wonderful Subversion of the Original
I liked the first Dead Space well enough, but what I didn't like was it being billed as a survival horror game, which is a genre that I never saw it fitting into. It relied too heavily on jump scares and gore for it's "horror" and the necromorphs, while somewhat scary at first, lost their effectiveness at delivering scares after you cut down room after room filled with them. Monsters that are always in your face and die by the hundreds at your hands are simply not scary. The only legitimately scary parts of that game involved Nicole and those were few and far in-between. Dead Space 2 is a gory third person sci-fi shooter, and a pretty good one at that, but what really makes it shine is the contrast to the original. Where the first game tried and failed to be a horror game, this one was stuck with that label and actively resisted it every step of the way. Their design philosophy seems to have been: "You think something horrifying is about to happen? Fuck that! Let's do something awesome instead." Isaac is no longer the silent automaton who just follows orders, he is instead a human being with a personality, opinions and ideas of his own. The supporting character actually shows up more persistently and doesn't only contact you over an annoyingly screechy vidcomm, and is actually competent and capable of saving your ass if need be. There is still plenty of gratuitous gore and dark moments but without that this wouldn't exactly be a Dead Space game. The jump scares are less prevalent and the developers seem to go out of their way to raise the tension in certain scenes just so they could subvert it a moment later. I won't give specifics on that because it would consist entirely of spoilers but suffice it to say that this game likes using moments of sheer awesomeness to undercut ones with some shallow pretense of living up to the survival horror label on it's description. And, just to kill any remaining sense of fear that the game might instill, Isaac is now essentially Iron Man, with repulsor boots in his Powered Armor. How can lowly necromorphs scare you when you're playing as this guy? Just shoot em' up and move along.
Different, but not a failure
Dead Space 2 is the Resident Evil 4 of the Dead Space genre. It changes genres from survival horror to more of a survival action title. Gone are most of the tight, narrow corridors with plenty of vents for smart AI moves, instead they've been replaced with wide-open rooms that allow you to be attacked by massive groups. The voice acting is amazing and I love Ellie. Issac's voice actor is great, and the whole talking hero adds a nice touch to the game, as well as allowing Issac and Ellie to have plenty of fun banter. There's still plenty of jump scares, as well as plenty of things that are really creepy, but it's just not the same as the first game. The best comparison I can think of is Alien vs. Aliens. The original Alien gave you almost no clear glimpses of the creature up until the end, it was more of a horror movie. When Cameron took over, it was less about the scares and more about the intense gunfights and showing just how stupid soldiers can be. Dead Space 2 isn't different really. The first DS gave you time to get immersed in the atmosphere and feel creeped out as you wandered the ghost ship, running into the creatures only a little in the beginning. DS 2 doesn't even bother trying to go for that. Instead you have to just survive and fight your way around right after the very first cut scene, overall it takes about five minutes or so before you're just dumped into the action. I liked it, but again, it was flawed. What I find sad is just how much potential this series has but it doesn't bother to actually try harder. It's more of the same old, same old, through most of the game. Again, 4 out of 5 stars, just because I find it fun enough to make up for the disappointments. Here's hoping they can make it really scary and creepy for the next one!
It is Its Own Beast
When going into Dead Space 2 (Electric Boogaloo) you need to realize is that it isn't at all like the original. This is the Resident Evil 5 to Dead Space's RE 4; more action, more story, less scares, Mac Gyver weapons. Issac being voiced makes him more likeable, and gives him more humanity, but at the cost of his Gordon Freeman-esque immersion factor. By that I meant it's harder to project onto him, but fortunately they handled it better than I expected. The new weapons are range from very useful to profound wastes of time. For example, the pre-order rivet gun is only really useful against the exploding babies and demon children, while the Seeker Rifle can knock baddies out in two shots and and has abundant ammo. The Pulse Rifle is more like an assault rifle now, complete with grenade launcher, and the Ripper is more like a chainsaw than the uber powerful gamebreaker it was last game (they also fixed that problem where the game spawns shitloads of ripper blades at the exclusion of the other ammo types.) The scares aren't as... impactful as they were in the last game, and the boss fights are almost non existant, thankfully made up for by the new and improved Zero-g sections, but on the other hand, there aren't any battles with tumble dryer shoggoths, or outer space slugs which was disappointing. All in all, if you liked the first game, you'll probably like this. If you're a hardcore survival horror player who measures his fun by the browness of his pants, then you'll likely find it underwhelming