Tuesday, 7 February 2012

I wish things in space would just be dead!

Dead Space 2

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to playing Dead Space 2, the original game is one of my favourite horror games ever. In fact it’s probably in my top three, right under Silent Hill and Resident Evil (the PS1 originals). I simply enjoy being scared senseless, and with modern surround sound and a darkly lit room Dead Space delivered this with glorious (or should that be gory-ous?!) graphics and sci-fi atmosphere.

Dead Space 2 continues to follow the main character from DS1, Isaac Clarke, fighting his flashbacks of his deceased wife and nightmares from the spaceship Ishimura. He wakes up in a mental ward at a huge space station and quickly he realises that the alien race, the Necromorphs, are loose and killing everyone. Right from the get-go you get an understanding that the storyline is far better presented and the main character is given much more depth.

This involvement in a deeper and more developed storytelling is obvious throughout DC2. Isaac is no longer so anonymous, has opinions on different matters and meets interesting personalities along his journey. In fact the storyline is excellent. It is only slightly marred by too many radio interruptions with distressed callers. They should have made more cutscenes and avoided some of the radio chatter, simply because it breaks with the feeling of being alone.

The small baby-like monsters are rather disturbing.
Removing limbs is the key to taking the monsters down.
A fact the original Dead Space proved was that you can make really smooth and fast controls, like in other more action orientated third person shooters, without compromising the feeling of balancing on the edge of defending yourself from monsters and being afraid of dying. Resident Evil’s tank controls can once again take a hike and go shamefully to the corner and cry for being useless and annoying. DC2 then, luckily follows its last iteration perfectly. Visceral games, the developer, have even added a wider variety of interesting and distinctly different weapons for your disposal and hard earned in-game credits. Each weapon also has an alternative fire button and the ability to be upgraded.

Combine these great controls and weaponry with a large “cast” of horrific aliens, and you have yourself the best horror gameplay on the market. The aliens range from small exploding baby-like creatures to enormous brutes that literally smash your face in. There is even a new type which throws liquid that slows you down; making fights with hordes of enemy types a real challenge. The challenging gameplay however never feels clunky, and is entertaining because you constantly need to improve your skills and be even more cunning in how you use the little stasis (slow-mo liquid), ammo and objects you have to throw at the enemies.

The outdoor, weightless segments are really good and add variation.
Getting close and personal with the Necromorhps is not recommended!
If there’s one complaint to be made about weaponry and aliens; the game is to mean with the amount of credits and nodes you get to upgrade you guns and suit. It should let you at least upgrade weapons faster; the ammo amount though seems very balanced. The aliens are sometimes a bit cheaply released at awkward times, simply to make you die and have to try again and I hate the part where they once again had an invincible enemy. I hate enemies with invincibility that constantly rush you. It did add a sort of stressful factor and lasts only a short while, but still it feels like a letdown not being able to kill off an enemy completely.

The graphics and sheer detail within them is incredible. Easily one of the best looking games around. I really liked that the environments in DC2 are far more varied in both location, style and colour palette than DC1. However the more user friendly “A to B” layout of the whole game is shameful. Literally the whole game is a long corridor. This shows that the developers have tried to get more mainstream gamers into the series. DC1 at least let you traverse each area of its spaceship more freely and without going simply from one place to the other. DC2 should not have been different. Thank god they have got rid of the mission screens though.

Some of the scenes are breathtaking!
If you enjoyed the original DC and are into horror games you probably should  purchase DC2. be warned though, it has far more focus on action than horror at times. It's layout is simpler than DC1, and the gameplay slightly more action focused than it needs to be, but all together it’s a good game from Visceral and a fairly lengthy one at that. Recommended, but damn, this game is seriously violent and disturbing!



Dead Space 2: Severed (DLC)

I purchased this DLC for DC2 since it was an extension to the singleplayer. It tells a separate story from Isaac's with its own characters (apparently taken from Dead Space: Extraction). The DLC takes about 1-2 hours to complete. It reuses some of the locations from DC2, but takes place slightly before when Isaac roamed around, and branches out to new areas as well. Severed quicker rewards you with upgrades and has a more hectic feeling to it than DC2. The story doesn’t really do so much interesting, but the ending is really good. All in all it’s a nice expansion of the DC2 universe.