Regular readers will notice that the following article is a slight departure from our usual preview style. For gamescom 2010 we've adopted a streamlined structure, allowing us to cover as many games as possible while giving you the important juice and info. In many cases we'll be running longer, more detailed previews upon our return to the UK.
What is it?
Isaac Clarke returns for another heart-pounding third-person adventure, taking the fight to the Necromorphs in this sci-fi horror sequel. New tools to gruesomely slice and dismember the Necromorphs complement Isaac's signature plasma cutter, empowering him as he meets new characters, explores zero-G environments, and fights against a relentless Necromorph onslaught.
What was shown?
The demo began about half way into the Dead Space 2 campaign. Isaac is out in space in a zero-g environment and must realign some panels on a solar array in order to return power to the floating metropolis The Sprawl. This time around zero-G sections feature full 360 degree movement, enabling Isaac to dart around in space and use his telekinesis powers to alter the position of each panel.
After fixing the solar array and dealing with a nasty beast called 'The Nest' - a monster which fires off small explosives - Isaac found an ejector pod and launched himself toward The Sprawl. After the initial blast, Isaac is ejected and sent hurtling towards the space city with nothing but his suit to protect him. This free-falling section requires Isaac to pass through the atmosphere, dodging debris as he goes.
Unable to slow himself down, Isaac crash lands in a transportation hub and the demo came to an end with a fight against a pack of necromorphs - including a Slasher variant with armoured legs and a Puker. The latter managed to grab hold of Isaac, rip off his helmet and vomit into his face. The toxic sludge was enough to cause a rather grizzly death.
I was also able to go hands-on with a section from earlier in the game, in which Issac makes his way through the Sprawl, fighting off necromorphs as they appear, and solves a telekinesis-based puzzle. This puzzle activated zero-G and opened a path through to another area of the complex.
First impressions are hugely positive, with Dead Space 2 looking and importantly sounding great. The first title nailed the creepy sci-fi vibe and it's back for more scares in the sequel. The view from the top of the solar array was spectacular and the new 360 degree movement in zero-G is a welcome change to the rather stilted point-to-point travel in the first game.
If the demo sequence is anything to go by then the full game will also provide plenty of variety, mixing puzzle sections such as the solar array, with classic necromorph slicing and dicing, and a range of adrenaline-filled 'Epic Sequences' such as the free-fall to the Sprawl.
A few minutes with a controller in hand also confirmed that the gameplay is just as solid as expected - it's not like there was much that needed fixing. Even Isaac's position on the screen, dominating the left side of the viewing area, remains more or less as it was.
When a game's success rests on its ability to scare and provide exhilarating action sequences in equal measure it's nigh on impossible to know how the full title will turn out based on 15 minutes of game time. That is enough time, however, to ensure we're very excited to spend more time in The Sprawl.
Dead Space 2 is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on January 28, 2011. The PS3 game will be available with Dead Space Extraction, as part of a special Collector's Edition.