Dead Space 2 Review

Dead Space 2 (Available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1-8
Genre: Survival horror/Third-person shooter
Publisher: EA
Developer: Visceral Games
Release Date: Jan 25, 2011

Dead Space came right out of left field from EA, of all companies, which most people think of as releasing Madden every year. Around the time they were picking up new studios and talent for their large stables, no one was sure of their plans.  Well, EA really kept its word and had used this collected pool of personnel to create fun and exciting new IPs, Dead Space, obviously, is one of them. 2008 saw many AAA releases: Metal Gear Solid 4, Grand Theft Auto IV, Fallout 3, LittleBIGPlanet…etc.

Yet no game caught my attention and impressed me more than Dead Space. That was my 2008 Game of the Year.  I reviewed it for COE back when our old layout was still in use.  I’m pleased to return for the sequel because EA did such a great job on first.  The bar was already high, and I’m here to tell you if it’s been exceeded.

The Great:

+ Another great experience, if not better. From the moment you start DS2, it’s obvious how great it is.  Everything feels right. The same great gameplay is there, with polishing changes to improve matters.  The graphics also are more impressive, especially the shadows and lighting.  But Dead Space doesn’t look bad at all, so it says a lot about the work put in to this sequel.  There are cool new weapons and suits, and the story maintains relevance throughout the game. There’s nothing to hate about it, so keep reading to learn more.

The Good:

+ Scary! It’s interesting that Visceral was emphatic about upping the action in DS2, to include more sequences to make Isaac a fearsome force.  Apparently some gamers didn’t play Dead Space long because of the lack of chaos.  For many this spelled out: DS2 will be less scary. I didn’t think so at all.

The pacing is excellent, with some moments of downtime and others with lots of action.  Thanks to a chilling atmosphere and sound design, I never really felt safe on the Sprawl.  That’s a feat.  There are predictable occasions, but the mission provides plenty of surprises and exciting circumstances.

+ Begs to be re-played.  You have to play at least twice to feel ownership of the Sprawl.  The “New Game +” feature after initially finishing is great because your gear is transferred, and more hidden goodies pop up.  It’s also a great way to mop up those remaining achievements/trophies. With all the cool equipment and knowing what’s in store, Dead Space 2 feels a good deal different.

+ Better weapon balancing.  Before, the weapons’ effectiveness wasn’t consistent.  It was too easy to stick with four or less throughout the campaign.  In DS2 however, every device is useful, making it difficult to choose.  The same upgrade trees return to strengthen your gear of choice.  Plus, melee is improved, leading to more dead necromorphs and less skewered Isaacs.

+ New team-based multiplayer.  I’m honestly mixed on this.  It’s not bad (it wouldn’t be written here otherwise), but seems unnecessary.  I don’t like shoehorned multiplayer, but in DS2’s case I’m overlooking the inclusion because it doesn’t detract from the rest of the game.

It has a Left 4 Dead 2 sort of vibe: humans versus necromorphs in objective-based matches.  The pacing is understandably faster, and teamwork is a must.  Experienced can be earned to upgrade your arsenal, but I’m skeptical of the mode’s legs.  After all, people buy Call of Duty simply for multiplayer, and likely won’t with Dead Space 2. You can skip it entirely and still be satisfied with your purchase. The single-player campaign is the main attraction.

+ Special PS3 user treatment. Too bad for 360 and PC owners, but hooray if you own a PS3.  DS2: Limited Edition ships with an HD version of Dead Space: Extraction right on-disc that supports Sony’s Move controller. The on-rails shooter, and a great prequel, was a favorite of mine for Wii.  Odds are most PS3 owners missed out on it, so I’m happy Extraction is receiving more exposure.  Who would turn down another full game for free?

The So-So:

± Not much new.  The additions and graphical/gameplay tweaks doesn’t necessarily equate to a new experience.  This isn’t bad though, hence why you’re not in the Bad section yet.  Dead Space 2 is just so great as a whole; it’s difficult pin legitimate criticisms for it.

The Lowdown

As you can see, there isn’t a ‘Bad’ section at all.  The polish is excellent, as are the graphics, atmosphere and replayability.  Dead Space 2 is engaging and hooks you in from start to finish.  2011 is starting off strong for gaming, with DS2 leading the charge.  This is a must-buy.

8 thoughts on “Dead Space 2 Review”

  1. I liked your review on this game. I bought it day 1 and have now finished my second playthrough and still loving the game now i must try and get the hardened mode trophy which is i must say intense where u can only save 3 times during the whole game and checkpoints don’t work reverts to your last save which makes things interesting. i tried my first run died 10 minutes in lol and i wasn’t going to wast a save that close in and now have to start over lol. I must say tho that playing the campaign twice helps in knowing which locations you would have more difficulty with also what upgrades and weapons to best use on your journey. I havn’t had a chance to try out multiplayer because i was sceptical about this game being a mutliplayer i might hold off on it until i finish dead space extraction or hardened more and plat the game :). I for one agree tho that i see no bads about this game and it should be a must own for anyone who has played the first and enjoyed it or even people that never played the first one which i found cool that they added a video log in the extras about dead space 1 for people who just go straight do ds2.

  2. Right now I’m enjoying every minute of it, but the course I’m taking at university coupled with my ‘day job’ and another course I’m taking is kicking my butt. I’ve never been this busy before, and yet I’m still finding time to play DS2. That just goes to show how impressive of a game it really is. Justin, you outdid yourself with the review. Hat’s off to you good sir.

  3. Awesome game, I need to buy my own copy of it. My older brother has it and absolutely loves it, I really liked the first game quite a bit, so this one will be sure to suck me in. The harder difficulty modes sound intense.

  4. Thanks guys, I’m glad you enjoyed the review. This is a serious runner for my personal game of the year, but I have to wait until November for Uncharted 3 before I can say for certain, haha.

  5. Hehe, yeah Uncharted 3 is in another league completely!

    But I’m glad Dead Space was created! Resident Evil has long since lost it’s scariness and Silent Hill is alright but very buggy everytime….

    We have a new King in the Survival Horror mode!

  6. Silent Hill 1 was SO trippy. I remember being incredibly excited for part 2, but it never really lived up to my expectations. Ever since then the series hasn’t been the same. RE has completely changed from what it used to be. That’s where Dead Space comes in. I wasn’t too sure about the first part, but then I found it was like a mixture of the original Resident Evil and BioShock, and it blew me away. This one is a bit different in the sense that you’re not confined to a spaceship, but rather an outpost. Either way, fantastic game and certainly a contender for GotY 2011.

  7. Silent Hill was one of the best i actually have it form the psn lol couldn’t help myself when it came out lol…. I just wanna say tho dead space 2 hardcore mode try #2 failed lol died 1 hour in and didn;t wanna save at chapter 3 lol :(

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