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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

“They’re coming to get you, Isaac…” Dead Space 2 Review

Chad Hunter

The undead have haunted us in Pennsylvanian farmhouses; Midwest cities under corporate control and with EA’s Dead Space, the shambling reanimated had found their way into space. Now, with the latest installment in the Dead Space universe, we found ourselves pitted against the resurrected clawing at airlocks and craving our flesh. With Visceral Games and EA’s newest survival horror entry available everywhere today, the question is posed: is Dead Space 2 (DS2) worth the wait or a greater loss than the crew of the Ishimura?

Set your worries for the growing hordes of Necromorphs coming for you. There is no need to ponder the wonder that is Dead Space 2. It is a worthy successor to the Dead Space universe. You will once again find yourself in the role of Isaac Clarke, engineer and unfortunate hero battling the insane, the corrupt, the zealot and the Necromorphs: a race of twisted and savage horrors born from hijacked human flesh and enigmatic alien influence. Dead Space 2 begins with Isaac defenseless and only able to run. Blood pressure will rise. Tensions will grow. DS2 starts off with a pounding pulse and never lets go.

The graphics of Dead Space 2 are beautiful. When you’re not running and gunning for your life, take the time to look around. The scenery of the Sprawl, the colony where the terror begins, is marvelous. While it may be hard to witness the work that goes into the threats attacking Clarke, the detail in the Necromorphs is masterful. Dead Space 2 has to be one of the most visually acclaimed games in a very young 2011.

Dead Space 2’s sounds match its sights. When the plasma cutter fires or the Puker launches a storm of acidic vomit at Clarke, it sounds like it. Every shock of laser or splat of blood and intestine is resounding and clear. The only issue with the sounds in Dead Space 2 is a subjective one. Isaac, who was previously silent in the first game, now speaks. While there is nothing wrong with the voice acting, there was something unique and personifying to the silent protagonist. Beyond that gripe, hearing DS2 is almost as good as seeing it.

The plot is driven by the action and vice versa. You are notified through the game by various personnel of the Sprawl. Fans of the series will be familiar with the theme of Unitology, the mysterious Necromorphs and the ominous Marker. While it is still at times unclear why all Hell breaks loose, it is enough to know and hear the directions and objectives for Clarke. A very nice touch is that the game literally starts right at the end of the downloadable Dead Space: Ignition.

Dead Space 2 controls like a charm. It is well-oiled and moves smoothly and the challenge is never about how to move or guide your character. The single player mission is worth playing repeatedly and the multiplayer does offer unique perspectives. Players can either be human’s moving about various maps or Necromorphs themselves, out to thwart their human counterparts.

Zombie factor?

Dead Space 2 is a great game but how high is its zombie factor? High. Dead Space 2’s application of corpses being brought back for alien purposes in mass hordes gives players the feel of fear. You are put in situations where running is the only sane choice and you can’t. The appeal of the zombie is its mindless, unending pursuit of horrific goals and the nightmare that it was once like us. The necrotic walking abattoirs remind us of just that: we are all potential monsters. Several times in the game, other characters come apart as they realize the nightmare of killing those that were once family and friends. These monsters do not rise from cemeteries or morgues but they crawl from space suits and ships, nonetheless terrifying.

In the end, Dead Space 2 is a gratifying run and a necessary addition to any gaming library. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are beautiful and the PS3 Limited Edition offers a download of Dead Space: Extraction for the PS3 Move. The game is fun, frightening and does everything it is supposed to do. Dive into the universe of the Marker, hold on to your sanity and remember that aiming for the head is pointless; dismember, hope and pray.

Support Zombies & Toys with your purchase of Dead Space 2!

Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Window
Release date: January 25, 2011

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