Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dead Space 2

Resident Evil has met its match, Dead Space 2 is outstanding
Review By DC47
It comes as no surprise that a follow up to the very successful and well done Dead Space was put into motion almost immediately after the first games release. Dead Space 2 picks up some years after the first game left us. The general survival horror game play has remained untouched, but plenty of other changes have been made, mostly for the better. Visceral Games, with this release, has shown that they truly read all the fan mail, both praising their work and constructive criticism of it. With this new installment, I would say that Resident Evil has now met its match. Please note that this review is based on the SINGLE PLAYER ONLY. I have not played the multi-player at all, and I'm not planning to anytime soon.

GRAPHICS: Personally, I don't see too much improvement between this game and the original Dead Space in general. Most of the improvements are just sharper and more detailed character models. For example, you can now clearly see from a distance if the enemy coming at you is wearing armor. Another example I noticed was the “weak” points on the larger enemies look more organic this time, which is nice. Something else that is done better is the lighting effects. Flashlights, lasers, high-powered light beams…these all are rendered nicely and add quite a bit to the atmosphere of the game.

SOUND: The most notable difference is that the main protagonist, Isaac Clark, is no longer a silent protagonist. Interestingly enough, the voice is perfect for him. The voices in all characters are done very well as well as the ambient screams and howls you will be hearing through-out the game. General “space” sound effects are perfect as well, very realistic especially when Isaac goes into the vacuum. There are plenty of times when you will hear your enemies before you see them, and what is great is that there are some you won't here until they are right behind you.

CONTROLS: Veterans of the first Dead Space will be able to jump right in. Fans of Resident Evil 4 and 5 should also feel right at home. Newcomers may or may not fit right in. The controls themselves are easy enough, they are basic 3rd Person/”Over-the-Shoulder” controls. The problem is that you are immediately thrust into a quick thinking situation at the beginning of the game, although its mostly just walking and running. The camera also works the same way, the mouse, as most 3rd person games. Once you acquire Telekinesis and Stasis, you will be prompted on how to use it, which is the same as the previous game.

All movements are very responsive: the aiming, the running, the shooting, and the reloading. That is good, as you are often put into situations where you will need to be aware of the full 360 degree environment and have to make adjustments. It should also be noted, that when you bring up the inventory, the game is NOT paused. Guns can be switched real-time as well, although you can only carry 4 at a time. One final thing that is new from the first game: you have to actually “hack” into the electronic circuitry. You will see a gears symbol on these places, and you use the mouse to match up the cursor to the “sweet spot” which is indicated by turning blue. This is normally done to open doors.

GAMEPLAY: When the game was announced, there was a lot of attention given to a developer commenting that the “pace” of the game was going to be slower than the first. A lot of people got extremely scared during the first 5 minutes of the first game, which was extremely intense. Then all the “hardcore” people came out of the woodwork and started complaining that once again, a great game will be turned more “casual” and ruin the experience. Let me start off by saying that, while Dead Space 2 is certainly less scary than its predecessor, it is FAR from a casual game. This game still falls under the category of Survival Horror no matter how you slice it. Despite the fact that there were not any parts of the game that were as “intense” as the first part of the first game, I was on the edge of my seat for the majority of the game.

Dead Space 2, for the most part, plays just like the first Dead Space. You need to survive attacks from “Necromorphs” which are basically dead humans re-animated with tentacle-like appendages. Just like in the first game, you need to concentrate on shooting off the appendages rather than shooting at the main body mass. Most of your “old friends” from the first game will return, along with a few new ones. The most obvious new creatures are the smaller and younger looking “kids” and there are even infants that will attack! There are not any “bosses” per say, just a few larger creatures that are more like mini-bosses.

The guns in this game are also mostly the same but with some additional ones. You have access to a flame thrower as well as a type of machine gun among others. As with the first game, its probably a better idea to pick 4 or 5 guns and stick with them rather than try to get all of them. Each gun requires a slightly different strategy to master and is good in different situations. A good example is the Line gun, which can shoot a wide horizontal energy beam that will cut through enemies and keep going through them. This is perfect for when you have multiple enemies coming at you. For the very small enemies you might be better off with one of the machine gun types so as the enemies are easier to kill and amount isn't as rare as the other guns. 

It also depends on you playing style, as there are plenty of people who play the whole game with JUST the Plasma Cutter which is the only “gun” given to you. And, of course, there is Telekinesis which allows you to pick up sharp objects, and dead body parts, to shoot them across the room with enough energy to damage your attackers. Harder difficulty levels will require you to master this as enemies are tougher and ammo becomes scarce.

There are a total of 15 chapters in the game. Playing on casual and taking my time, it clocked just over 10 hours. There is a New Game+ feature that lets you start a new game with all the equipment you had from your previous play through. I was able to play through Normal mode rather quickly as I had so much ammo from my causal run, I was able to complete a second run in 8 hours. The only mode that you can't access items from a previous play through is Hardcore mode. Hardcore mode also only lets you save 3 times and there are no “checkpoints”. So, while the story mode will take about 9 to 10 hours to be once, you can challenge yourself by going for the Hardcore mode. There is also multi-player, however, I did not play it so I cannot comment. 

It should also be noted that you need to create an EA account and sign in to play the game. It doesn't say that a persistence internet connection is required, although it is worth noting that I had one the whole time. The bright side is that you don't need to game disc to play. There is an option to de-register the PC you installed the game on, which is good so you don't get treated like a pirate for wanting to play the game on your new PC in a year or two.

STORY: The story takes place 3 years after the end of the first game. Isaac is on a Metropolis-like space station that is built on what is left of Titan, the moon of Saturn. Not much is revealed at first on what happened during those 3 years, except that you have been kept under observation. Apparently the “marker” from the first game left its…well…mark on Isaac. He is starting to degrade mentally. You start by being released from the mental ward but you are immediately thrown into danger. The nightmare that happened 3 years ago is happening again….and this time it's not just contained on a ship, it is destroying a whole city. You are contacted buy someone who is claiming to lead you to safety, then you run into another mental patient who tells you a contradicting story, and a security office who was left to die. All of you are trying to survive not only from the Necro's, but from the government officials who are trying to silence you. Isaac's ultimate goal is to destroy the new Marker that is on the space station. As the game progresses, you witness Isaac start to degrade some more, wondering if he will ever be 100% again.

Really, the only complaint I can really find with this game is that it is “more of Dead Space”. Although, there are certainly plenty of improvements added to the game. There are not as many “Mr. Fixit” missions as there were before, although you will still need to fix things now and again. The story has evolved to where it is much bigger than an engineer on a ship trying to survive, as was the case with the first game. The developers do make it easy for newcomers to pick the game up, as there is a video you can watch that sums up all the events of the first game. Not to mention its not as scary, unless you play on Hardcore mode. Some better “boss” battles would have been nice, but again, these are some minor complaints.

Fans of both the first Dead Space as well as Resident Evil should love this game. The games pacing and fairly easy learning curve make it an easy game to pick up if you just want to try it out as well. I must also mention that the PC version has dropped in price; this is most likely due to EA stating they will not be supporting the DLC for the PC, which is a shot in the face for PC Gaming. However, the lower price combined with the fact that I personally have yet to purchase or play ANY DLC more than makes up for it.

SYSTEM: PC, Play Station 3, XBOX 360



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