Ryan Wilson

Review: Dead Space 2

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The world’s most badass engineer Isaac Clarke is back, but was the wait worth it?

Author’s note: This review of Dead Space 2 is based upon experiences with the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

Dead Space 2 picks up three years after the events of the original Dead Space, with Isaac confined to a hospital and restrained in a straitjacket. The events of the first game and the frightening visions of his dead girlfriend, Nicole Brennan have left him mentally unstable, which provides another level of terror to the already scary series.

Remember how the first game eased you into the terror of the Necromorphs? Keep that memory, as the game throws a group of them right at you in the first minutes of gameplay, with Isaac still in a straitjacket (so fighting back is impossible).

Despite this, the game finds plenty of opportunities to surprise you. The first surprise came with Isaac Clarke himself. Our former “silent protagonist” has grown quite talkative in the past three years. While you wouldn’t think much of the addition of a voice, this really helps boost the terror into new heights. Before, Isaac seemed more like a “meat tank”, and his numerous deaths and struggles only served as gory eye candy. When I witnessed my first real death animation in Dead Space 2, I had to put my controller down. I watched as Isaac struggled to keep a sharp spine from piercing through his mouth, to no success. I could see him writhing and attempting to shriek in pain. The terror ended as his head was ripped from his torso. Even as an avid horror movie fan, this sight left me uncomfortable.

Graphically, the series has improved leaps and bounds. While the first game was wonderfully rendered, everything took place in the claustrophobic halls of the USG Ishimura. Dead Space 2 takes a chance by providing a number of expansive environments to fight in, showing off the full capabilities of the game engine. The physics, however, still leave a lot to be desired. Occasionally when using the telekinesis ability in tight corridors, the object will get stuck inside of Isaac, annoyingly clanging until it eventually forces itself out.

SOUND: 95%

Where Dead Space 2 really shines, however, is in the audio work. Voice acting, especially for the newly vocal Isaac Clarke, is top notch and believable. Playing Dead Space 2 with anything less than surround sound is not only a disservice to the game, but damn near suicidal. The aforementioned clanging, while annoying during physics botch-ups, is effectively unnerving when wandering around an isolated corridor with a sliver of health left. The monsters will startle you, but your own paranoia from accidentally bumping into something and knocking it over will downright scare you.

Dead Space 2 is a worthwhile addition to any survival horror fan’s collection. The solid story, backed up with beautiful graphics and terrifyingly effective sound mixing will guarantee a long lasting effect, even after the credits roll.

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