The lights are on
Dead Space took many by surprise with its creepy atmosphere and dark, ominous feel. Will Dead Space 2 uphold The Marker or succumb to its fate?
There are no real changes to DS 2 when compared to its predecessor. It plays like a third-person shooter and does so very well. The aiming is accurate and crisp, as it needs to be to dismember the necromorphs, the melee attacks are hardly strong enough to be worth anything and the curb stomp is still nice and squishy.
The weapons you can carry are varied in usefulness. The plasma cutter is still, by a wide margin, the most useful gun in the game. The contact gun, force gun, and ripper are a close second because of crowd control use. But the flamethrower and javelin gun are plain worthless, ironic if you think that a gun that lights flesh on fire and one that impales a body are worthless against bio-form enemies. I know I left out the line gun, seeker rifle(a sniper basically), detonator and plasma rifle. They are all middle of the road type weapons.
The reason behind all of this is simple, the confined space the game normally takes place in. While this is a blessing for atmosphere, more on that in the story section, it is a curse for most weapons. The plasma cutter has a small, tight reticule which makes aiming in those hallways easy. The line gun has a massively spread reticule meaning most of your shot hits the wall.
Honestly thought if you played DS then using the plasma cutter almost exclusively shouldn't be that big of a change for you. I felt that the other guns would have been more useful in the second installment but I was wrong.
The enemies are relentless in their pursuit to rip your limbs from your body. They will come at you in waves and numbers that dwarf the original game. They are, for the most part, mindless tossing themselves into your bullets. Lucky for you if you stomp on them they might just drop ammo or credits to buy more ammo if you need to. This adds to the "oh ***" factor as you back away trying to unhinge their limbs from their bodies. When there are four or five in a room coming after you your aim might be a little more off than you remember but it adds to the effect.
The game retains the stores and benches from the first game. While I get that you need a way to upgrade and buy new things, I love the power node system, I still feel having stores is out of place. Think about it you just ran through 40 necromorphs in the last room, their blood and guts strewn across the floor, and when you walk through the door you go on a shopping spree. It just feels weird to me.
Overall there is nothing wrong with this game, or at least nothing new from the first game. Most of the guns still seem worthless but that's fine, I'll stick with the plasma cutter.
This game starts you off in the middle of some bad news and is one of the best openings I have ever played. The setting and atmosphere are built almost instantly and yet you know nothing of what is going other than you are about to fight for your life again.
The story picks up a few years after the initial Marker incident ended. There is a cast of new character, other than Isaac Clarke, and they play their parts very well. I won't ruin names or spoil anything but I will say things aren't how they seem with the characters you interact with.
That said there are more of them and DS 2 is more dialog heavy then DS was. With that comes one of the biggest changes to the story, Isaac's voice. The voice acting all around is done extremely well and the writing is pretty good most the time even managing to toss in some jokes along the way. However, I do not like Isaac with a voice and that is something I almost never say.
Main characters require a voice 99% of the time. The few that don't say anything, Link, Mario, Gordon Freeman to name a few, don't need a voice and should never speak within their titles. Without a voice in the first game you really get the feeling of being alone, isolated out in space with only a few people still alive. I felt the bond between the characters in the first game was closer because of that. With Isaac having a voice the rig communication seems more like an objective updater than a way to get to know the characters. That isn't speaking down to the voice-actors mind you. Also the rig-com is still a great way to see the facial expressions on the people you are trying to get out alive with.
A few more things are explained about the story along the way and the pacing feels right. Isaac is slowly giving into insanity the further he goes into the Sprawl, the name of the station you are on. He starts hearing things and seeing things that are meant to creep you out. They are hit and miss most the time but it is more about understanding what he is going through.
Something that I thought was lost was the overall sense of creepiness. I feel that DS 2 relies more on surprise creepy than it does building up noises, ambient sounds, lighting, tight spaces and the like. Instead of trying to break you slowly it just jumps a bunch of necromorphs into a room and tells you to deal with them. Don't get me wrong many of the settings are creepy and the sounds, lighting and all that other stuff is still there at times but I just don't think it was done to the same extent as the first game was.
The end boss is a little...odd...but I guess it fits into the context of the story. Something that I didn't really like was that none of the other characters you meet really ask about the necromorphs. At first O thought it was because they knew about the Ishimura and what happened on it. However, you find out that isn't the case, at least with some of the characters.
The story is good, the setting and atmosphere are what makes you keep playing it.
I'll say this now, if you bought Dead Space 2 for the multiplayer you got it for the wrong reasons. It isn't because the online component is bad, it is simply very basic and gets old quickly.
The games are 4v4 engineers vs. necromorphs. The goal is for the engineers to take objectives and for the necromorphs to stop them. Both sides have unlimited respawn and the necromorphs are helped out by NPC Slashers that spawn in a decently high number. You can come in as one of four necromorphs, the more powerful they are the longer your respawn. The engineers have a set respawn of five second.
The level cap is 60 and along the way you unlock perks for both sides. Better weapons, suits, more powerful puke ect. They help but don't make the player using them impossible to take down. the balance between the two groups on a whole seems much more balanced than something like Versus Mode in Left 4 Dead 2 where the humans always seem to have the upper hand on the zombies.
On a whole nothing is wrong with this mode. However, there is nothing left to done once you have played 10 or 12 matches. Sure you can unlock everything and it can be fun to play with a few friends for a bit but it isn't something that most will sink tons of time into. It is a nice add-on but is in no way the reason to pick up the game.
Some of the best use of non-moveable lighting I have seen on console. You can even pick up some lights and they give a cool effect being tossed down a dark, empty corridor.
The enemies look freaky and scary, the blood and gore look real enough to set the mood. Very little is freakier in a game than to look down a once dark hallway just to see two yellow eyes now staring back at you.
If I have one slight qualm it is that the people that are still alive don't have a "real" look. It isn't that they don't fit or look cartoony or anything. they just look odd I think.
The game banks more on atmosphere than graphical wowing but the graphics are still pretty good.
You can replay the single player a few times and still find new ways to kill things or hear new noises in hallways. Sadly the game is only about 11 hours on normal so the trip isn't a long one. The multiplayer won't give this game much more legs for most gamers.
My main issue with this game is that it doesn't feel as creepy as the first one. I feel that they tossed a bunch of enemies on screen a few too many times and relied more on surprise scare factors than trying to break your mind. That being said the title is still wonderful and should be picked up if you liked the first one.
(My review is not an average of my numbers but what I feel the game as a whole should get. The numbers under each category are based on what I think those categories are in general when compared to most games on the market today.)
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