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Review - Dead Space 2 - A Proper Sequel

 

Dead Space set a high bar for itself. Though it could have easily ended with a single game, the demand for a sequel became immediately apparent. Sequels aren't always guaranteed success though. Some sequels feel exactly the same, and some drift off in search for greatness, and end up leaving that very greatness they had behind. Dead Space 2 is not one of those games. 

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PRESENTATION

The original Dead Space took place on the Ishimura, a massive mining ship. Dead Space 2, on the other hand, takes place on the Sprawl, a massive space station-city, so if you thought the Ishimura had a lot of ground to cover, the Sprawl has even more. The variety of environments is much larger here, along with the color pallet in general. One paticular area will surely please those who have already played the first game. 

The graphical makeover does decrease the creepy feel you got when exploring the Ishimura however. There won't be too much to make you hesitant going along your way. That's not to say the scare factor isn't there though. If anything, the less-creepy atmosphere set's you up for such moments as you let your guard down. Enemies will pop out of vents and the ceiling when you least expect it, and Visceral has worked the environments into scaring you as well (such as pipes popping open loudly, ect.).

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The controls have been remapped, and though they are not as original as in the first game, they are definitely an improvement. They feel comfortable, and actions such as reloading are more accessible.

Sound on par with the previous game, as the haunting screeches of the Necromorphs return. This time with a much larger cast of killing, morphing alien beast! The number of Necromorph variations has nearly doubled since Dead Space 1, enticing new strategies to take them down. The most efficient being cutting off the limbs.

The weapons again work together with this strategy. This time around Isaac's arsenal is much more capable; not only is he fighting with just mining equipment, but now he has access to more able, military grade weaponry. All the old weapons return, and a good number of new ones have been added in.

Dead Space 2 is dressed to impress, and well, it certainly does.

STORY

After Isaac's escape from the Ishimura, he's later found by Earth Gov drifting amid space in a crazed state. Next thing Isaac knows, he's waking up in a mental hospital during the middle of yet another Necromorph outbreak. But that's not all; Earth Gov has issued an order for his death, and the Unitologist (religious group that worships the Markers) are attempting to capture him. As if that wasn't enough, Isaac's now seeing things, and he has to find a way to face these delusions.

What? Did I insinuate Isaac having emotions? That's right, Isaac has personality this time around. I can't say it's the character that I would've imagined from the first game, but he fits the role well, and he's grown on me. Cast improvements are found everywhere, not just with Isaac. The characters Isaac interacts with are all more developed, and the story flourishes because of it.

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The story is still propelled forward with one problem being presented after another, but now having more motives behind doing them makes it feel less like a chore as it did in Dead Space 1.

Some of the story pieces, particularly involving Isaac's  halucinations, do feel a bit generic for a horror story, but it's still a very enticing story that is way more on a personal level than the story that came before it.

GAMEPLAY

For the most part, Dead Space 2 plays a lot like the original. The pace has quickened, and the action has been heightened, but everything you loved from the first Dead Space has been brought over. This generally means the methodical means of killing the Necromophs. As before, this keeps the combat interesting and prevents the game from becoming stale in a matter of hours.

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The old weapons return along with a number of new ones, including a new favorite of mine: The Seeker Rifle; a semi automatic rifle that packs quite a punch. All of the weapons work well, and each has it's own strategy to it's effective use in combat.

The kinesis module used in the first game for moving objects, and throwing them at enemies, has now been fully integrated as a weapon. You can even rip the spiky limbs off dead Necromorphs and shoot them, impaling attacking foes. It definitely adds in some variety and more reason to make use of Kinesis for other than solving puzzles. This also provides a way to fight when low on ammo, which is increasingly handy on the harder difficulties.

The zero-G portions are much better this time around. Isaac can now hover around, making space entirely accessible  Before, Isaac relied heavily on an open flat platform to jump to and fro, which really limited his abilities outside in space. Now that he can hover, zero-G areas are much easier to navigate, and the plane he can now move on in space has increased significantly. 

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You can still upgrade your weapons with collectible nodes, but with more options. Some guns even have a special ability at the end of the upgrade tree, which is pretty sweet.

Boss fights are still fairly easy, but the action that usually occurs is really exciting. Dead Space 2 has quite a lot of good action scenes as well. Not too much to where it's overdone, but a decent amount that will keep you interested, and they play as good as they look.

MULTIPLAYER

There is a multiplayer this time around, though I didn't spend a whole lot of time on it. It's humans versus Necromorphs. The humans are tasked with a series of objectives, while the Necromorphs have to do all in their power to prevent the humans from completing them. 

Playing as the humans is a lot of fun, but playing as the Necromorphs wasn't. I felt highly disadvantaged. Though the Necromorph team has the humans out numbered, thanks to the additions of some AI allies, the fire power from the human team still seems to outweigh it. I died a whole lot more as a Necromorph, and the humans seemed to win almost every time. 

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Each match consist of 2 rounds, the second of which both teams switch factions, and tackle the map and challenges again, but on the other team. The multiplayer has a good idea behind it, but it's not a huge hit. Perhaps with a bit more polish, it could have been better, but the single player is where it's at anyhow.

RECAP

Dead Space 2 is an amazing sequel. Everything I loved about Dead Space is back, and several new additions to the series make this game a ton of fun to play. I was grasped by the story and addictive gameplay mechanics. Not to mention a number of different difficulties and the new game plus mode (which let's you start the game from the beginning with all you're unlocked gear), will definitely have most coming back for round 2.

The multiplayer isn't amazing, but it's there if you wish to play it. However, I wouldn't say it's worth buying an online pass for if you bought the game used.

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