I’ll start with saying I was late to the Dead Space train. Only picking it up late last year (2010) after ignoring the handful of people who said I would love it and then getting sucked in to early trailers for part 2, I decided I better play the first one if I have any intention on picking up the sequel. So after playing through the first game four times and getting every achievement (except for one, those damn asteroids) all within the span of about a month and a half I figured I was prepped and ready to go for part 2.
The Nightmare Returns
So the game picks up right where the last one left off, well not really. There is a wonderful little recap of the first one in the main menu. If you’ve played Dead Space Ignition, and you actually finished it, you’ll have even more back story going in to this one. The one thing you need to know is, yes you are still Isaac Clarke and Yes, you still have a plasma cutter… eventually. First you’ll have to survive the first bit of the game in a straight jacket. Good luck.
The game is great. I have very few complaints and the ones I do have are rather petty, so rather than just talk about how good this game is I figured I would look at how it differs from the first.
The controls: while basically the same, they are are (in my opinion) better. Switching the reload button for a more standard approach, giving you a dedicated “quick heal” button and remapping your inventory to the start button. I honestly may have looked in my inventory only three times on my first play-through thanks to the new quick heal function.
Zero G is amazing: free floating movement is now possible instead of hopping from wall to wall thanks to a much needed propulsion system RIG upgrade. It really just feels natural and with a quick click of a button you can reposition yourself upright just in time to attach yourself safely to land. One complaint however is the lack of interactions while in the zero gravity zones. It was great moving around but I wanted some action. I am actually having a hard time recalling any sense of danger while floating about. That, and you can’t punch while weightless (I told you my complaints were petty, remember?). While this isn’t game breaking by any means I often found myself floating up to a breakable box, thinking I could melee this sucker open only to find my arms useless.
I found my inventory management problems almost non-existent thanks to the lack of air cans and the fact that stasis packs now stack. Great improvements for overall fun and ease of play but make the game a little less challenging in the “should I keep this on me” department.
The new weapons: like all the other weapons in this game take a bit of use to appreciate. The javelin gun at first is a fun toy — throwing enemies through windows and pinning them against walls. It really shines however when you master the alternate fire and coat an entire room in electricity. The seeker rifle is nothing but a single shot sniper rifle but trust me, a few upgrades and you’ll have yourself some beastly firepower. This of course can be said for most any weapon available and the plasma cutter/line gun combo will still get you through the whole game with no real issues.
Chaos on the Sprawl
This game flows from chapter to chapter, unlike the previous edition where you find yourself back tracking more than once, this one keeps you moving forward. I feel like Visceral made a real solid attempt at keeping the surroundings fresh and challenging but never letting your feel lost. You get to experience a lot more on the Sprawl (malls, churches, etc.) than on the stuffy USG Ishimura you were stuck in before, but watch out — if you’re not paying attention you might find yourself sucked out to space.
Now, this game isn’t perfect but it’s pretty close. I do have a few complaints, and I found some things played out better in DS1. The sound in this game is incredible — turn it up, put on the surround sound, and get freaked out. But one thing that really got to me was my lack of ability to understand what some people were saying. In the last game I felt they paced the game in such a way that when someone was talking the game would slow down, background levels would drop and you could understand what the hell the person was saying. I played through the entire second game only grasping a handful of words from Isaac’s ghostly apparitions. I didn’t even realize there was a “subtitles” option as I never had a need for it in the first game. If you want to really follow the story…turn them on.
Master the Terror
I also found on numerous occasions I would mow through a horde of Necromorphs, escaping low on ammo and in need of some looting. But where did the bodies go? They disappeared. I never seemed to have this problem in the first game. I’m assuming with the beefed up graphics the amount of information on screen has to be kept to a certain level and the game has to get rid of some of those bodies. But to poof away all those precious health packs and bits of plasma energy within those corpses (especially on Zealot or Hardcore difficultly) after a big fight just seemed like a step backwards compared to the first game.
Other new features / and improvements include:
- New Game Plus – Restart the game after you beat it on a new difficulty and still keep your old stuff!
- Isaac Talks – He isn’t a mute anymore, he actually gets pissed now…but he’s still a little errand boy.
- New suits – So many suits, all with different bonuses and appearances. Gotta buy em all.
- No mini games – While there are moments of non-traditional game play those moments fit so well you barely notice.
- Multiplayer – Plays as humans or Necromorphs…it’s actually really fun.
Overall this game surpassed my expectations and trumps the first game in nearly every way. And now there’s multiplayer — play it and play it again. Just remember to aim for the limbs, as if you didn’t know that already. Happy hunting.