Electronic Arts – Dead Space 2 review

This time it's more. Much, much more...
Photo of Electronic Arts – Dead Space 2
£34.99

Dead Space 2 has a bag full of tricks. Most of them have been gleaned from classic horror movies of old – but it’s a game that also learns lessons from games like the Alien Vs Predator series in its heyday.

Classic sequel
Picking up after the terrific original, Dead Space 2 puts you back in the shoes of Isaac Clarke, who just about scraped his way through the first game. Not without some damage, though. Isaac is slowly losing his mind – a process that isn’t helped by the reappearance of the necromorphs, the nasty aliens of the first game. This time, the necromorphs are slightly more varied, but no less unpleasant – and the game bends over backwards to make the most of them.

This, ultimately, is what an alien computer game should feel like. The music and dark, moody visuals are all akin to those of the brilliant original. Even though it overplays its hand from time to time, Dead Space 2 excels at making you jump out of your seat.

Playing the game
Dead Space 2 also does its damnedest to avoid just telling you to go from location to location, shooting things. Many videogames have failed to liven up this formula of late – not least Sega’s last Aliens Vs Predator game. Dead Space 2 throws in some classic moments along the way, adding some very welcome variety.

The guts of the game remain the same, though. With finite weapons, finite health and finite technology, Isaac embarks on a struggle for survival, upgrading where he can, but generally facing insurmountable odds. One thing PC gamers will appreciate is that they’re not left battling the controls anywhere near much as they did the last time. It’s hardly a secret that the PC controls for the original Dead Space were nothing short of rancid, bearing all the hallmarks of a fast and cheap console port-over. Not so here. As a result, the game fits the PC that bit better.

Long lasting satisfaction
And although Dead Space 2 doesn’t exactly shakes things up from the first instalment, it’s still a game that will keep your interest for long periods. Instead of innovating, it wisely accentuates what made that original work. Of course, it adds a bit of fresh weaponry and technology into the mix, but it’s still best to follow the first game’s tactic of shooting for the limbs of your foes one by one, rather than the traditional headshot.

The setting of the new game deserves special mention, too. This time, we’re in a city, and while it has something of the vibe of BioShock to it, it works effectively, giving developer Visceral Games enough space to flex its creativity.

On the downside, the silly little mini-games are annoying, and there are moments where the in-game camera does you no favours whatsoever. Being attacked by four or five necromorphs and hardly being able to see a thing isn’t recommended at all.

Yet Dead Space 2 is still some piece of work. It’s a fairly conventional sequel, in the sense that there’s no radical overthrowing of the original formula. But it’s still a quality game, and one we enjoyed a lot. A rumoured third outing for Dead Space would be very welcome indeed – for everyone except Isaac, at least…

Company: Electronic Arts


Verdict
Very tense, very enjoyable, and with high production values, Dead Space 2 is more PC-friendly than its predecessor. A thoroughly smart sequel.