I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations jumping into the second (or technically 3rd? or 4th, maybe?) installment in Visceral Games’ sci-fi survival horror series. I generally enjoyed the first game, even if it did result in me banging my head against a wall during those nightmarish turret sequences or the memorable y-axis flip during the final boss fight. But, it’s that “methodical, save that *** for later, jump scare gameplay” that grabbed me, just like my first time playing Resident Evil, but in a far more approachable package. Dead Space 2 continues to fan the survival shooter flame, with a new, more polished, and terrifying adventure. You’ll be cuttin’ plenty of limbs, stompin’ plenty of dudes, and constantly wondering when the hell it’s ever going to get old.

The story picks up years after the events on the USG Ishimura. You’re awoken from a coma, can’t remember what you’ve been doing for the last three years, and begin seeing visions of your assumed deceased girlfriend as you wander about the Sprawl trying to process what the hell is happening. But, the overarching story didn’t interest me nearly as much as the writing and performance of Isaac’s dialogue. I may be mistaken, but I don’t recall Isaac speaking at all in the first game. They seemed to be going for that silent protagonist sort of thing, but his character is handled really well this time around. I love his reactions to situations and interactions with other characters for the same reasons I loved Trip and Monkey from Enslaved. Because, instead of insane dialogue or dumb quirks seemingly required to create a memorable video game character, they’re memorable because they’re believable, reacting and interacting like a regular-ass human would. Isaac and Ellie have some subtle and genuinely funny dialogue with each-other that only deepened my endearment for the cast of Dead Space 2.

Don’t expect anything new in terms of combat. Strategic dismemberment will still serve you well. There are plenty of weapons to choose from, but sticking to your trusty plasma cutter is never a bad choice. I, somewhat regrettably, limited myself to only two weapons the entire game. I used and constantly upgraded the plasma cutter, kept the pulse rifle on hand for crowd control purposes, and sunk all other nodes into rig and telekinesis upgrades. During more difficult points in the game,  I knew that buying a bigger gun or one that required less precision would’ve helped me out, but at the same time, upgrading my rig allowed me to scrap my way through plenty of fights that I should have never walked away from. One of the most interesting things about replaying Dead Space games is seeing how much those spec and load-out choices effect the way a combat scenario plays out.

There aren’t too many negative points I can make about Dead Space 2. It’s really everything you could ever want in a sequel; more of what you loved from the first game, minus all the annoying bits from the first, plus zero gravity sequences that make me wish Visceral Games would follow this game up with a hardcore space station repair sim. I did experience what felt like weird spikes in difficulty towards the end of the game, including the final boss fight. But, nothing that couldn’t be overcome with a bit of creative problem solving. The occasional bout of trial and error ruined some moments for me, but not nearly enough to shape my overall experience.

Dead Space 2 does so much to improve on its predecessor and still manages to throw in some new stuff for good measure. Great characters, a satisfying combat system, and a whole truckload of re-playability are just a few of the reasons you should be playing this game. Oh, dude, and it totally has multiplayer too.