Despite its critical acclaim and status amongst fans, Dead Space apparently under-performed in terms of sales. We heard from Visceral Games’ press release that the game shifted over 1.4 million copies, so although it’s no Halo 3 or Modern Warfare 2 (or indeed Wii Sports which apparently sold into the 70 million mark!) it’s a highly respectable figure. And thus, Visceral and EA launched its sequel, Dead Space 2, in Europe today.
To get you a little up to speed, Dead Space 2 takes place in 2511 just three years after the events of the first game (and the animated feature Dead Space: Aftermath). You are Isaac Clarke, as you were previously, but now you are tortured by what you have been through. You are breaking down, driven to your demise, tormented by hallucinations of your dead girlfriend. And you are wrapped in a straight jacket.
Almost instantly, we are thrown into a high-octane thrill ride dodging oncoming Necromorphs. Still sporting our fetching straitjacket, weaponless and practically helpless, the only thing to do is run and dodge. Visceral have really played around with the claustrophobic elements with this game, rendering another level to the nightmare-inducing gameplay and further embedding that sense of never knowing what to anticipate.
The combat has been ramped-up too. It has been packed this tightly with action, but haven’t lost the atmosphere and ferociously nerve-wrecking gameplay. Some of the newer enemies bare some resemblance to those from the Left 4 Dead franchise, particularly the ‘Puker’. However, it hasn’t just stolen it wholesale. A particularly interesting, and annoying, new Necromorph is the ‘Pack’, who attacks in, you guessed it, packs. They’re childlike and move quickly. They also scream like little girls when you kill them which is particularly horrific.
On top of all that, the developers have explored Isaac more in depth. They’ve humanized him, and given you something to care about. You find out a lot more about the man himself, and, for one, you see more of his face in the first ten minutes of the game than you do in the whole of the first one. His state of mind plays an important role in the game, when often you’re maybe not sure whether what you are fighting is real or not.
One of the most satisfying parts of the game, for Pop Culture Monster, was the fight just after you slide frantically through the train. You’re left dangling upside down, fighting Necromorphs with your aim and balance askew. It’s a particularly ingenious aspect of the game and shows that Visceral are not short of ideas for taking steps forward with the survival-horror genre.
The multi-player is the only really disappointing aspect to the game. It’s much the same as many games before it, 4 vs 4: 4 humans, 4 Necromorphs. There’s not much to it, and while it doesn’t take away that much from the actual game, it will disappoint in terms of replayability and longevity.
Overall, Fans will enjoy this game, but might be disappointed with the multi-player option. However, this game is a must for any shooter fan, bridging tension, anticipation and fear with insane graphics, an engaging story and action-packed adventure.
A list of the achievements and their requirements are on the next page.