Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2 Review for PS3

On: PS3Xbox 360PC

Isaac Clarke returns for another heart-pounding adventure, taking the fight to the Necromorphs.

Review verdict Read Review
8Out of 10
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Dead Space 2 screenshot
Dead Space 2 screenshot

There's a bit where, over the radio, Isaac Clarke is told that under absolutely no circumstances must he never ever... and then the transmission cuts to static. Still, blind obedience to a tried and tested bag of clichés is never necessarily a bad thing, and it's always a reassuring eventuality that moving into a monster-infested funeral parlour is never going to end well.

As the big-budget sequel to the 2008 survival-horror epic, developer Visceral Games is attempting to solidify the series' exemplary shooting and top-tier jumpy frights by rounding out the human element of its protagonist. Formerly little more than a mute conduit for the player, giving Isaac a voice and a face is a move which may come back to haunt Visceral Games more than Derek Acorah does Living TV. Personally, I kind of preferred Isaac Clarke when he was just a wheezing death rattle, but now he's into serial cussing and showing off his oft-visible bonce with a range that spans expressionless to completely bemused.

The game, however, is much the same as before: an unrestrained exercise in violence, set around Titan mining colony the Sprawl, three years after calamitous events of the original, and it's all still wrapped up with overarching themes of shady capitalistic enterprise and quasi-religious Unitology fanatics. Before long it becomes clear that the Sprawl is home to another Marker, one of the twisted double-helix structures at the root of the universe's mucky Necromorph problems, and that everybody has been transformed into a monster. Again.

Things kick off pretty quickly, too, and seconds after the opening montage there's a person getting stabbed through the head, with the player watching their grisly, close-up transformation into a gibbering, flailing Necromorph, and gleefully continues throwing up well-designed shots of nasty brutality until its bombastic denouement. The whole game is never anything less than visually stunning, either, with the signature minimalistic UI and a near-unparalleled attention to detail across its many creepy crevices and flickering corridors.

Dead Space 2 is a poster boy for violent carnage, but the unnerving clash between Visceral Games' desire to refocus and remodel Isaac and the situation he finds himself in is epitomised nicely about two-thirds of the way through the game. During this moment the player finds themselves staring at something horrible and iconic from the first game, and the growing sense of dread and unease is neatly undercut when Isaac turns to his female sidekick and cheesily says "I'm full of bad ideas." So was the scriptwriter, evidentially.

I imagine the intention was to replicate something like Ripley's character shift from Alien to Aliens - Dead Space has always been an unashamed attempt to replicate the coolest bits from dozens of sci-fi influences in a survival horror mould, with the mix of borrowed ideas even trickling down to the protagonist's compounded name. But here it doesn't always mesh right. A creeping traversal through a Unitology church is enough to make your palms sweat, but during a section where you stand on top of a massive mining truck as it's driven through an underground tunnel of Necromorph gore, the game errs dangerously close to the point where Isaac might as well take off his helmet, put on a pair of sunglasses and try dual-wielding plasma rifles.

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EverTheOptimist's Avatar

EverTheOptimist

This review is exactly what I DID NOT want to hear, because it'll make me forget that I felt fairly 'meh' about the first game and I'll buy this and probably never finish it. Or maybe it'll spur me on to complete the first one and move on to this. Time will tell!
Posted 17:17 on 02 February 2011
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams@ Joey_Bananas

Haha, totally what I did.
I'm on my third play-through now.
Looking forward to one day completing it on Hardcore... one day.
Posted 13:36 on 01 February 2011
Joey_Bananas's Avatar

Joey_Bananas

Good review. I agree with most of your points but I found the game actually got BETTER towards the end. Around chapter 7 onwards I began to become more interested in the story as it took a decent twist. Still, the end boss was completely disappointing and I don't remember any notable boss encounter throughout the whole game (unlike in Dead Space 1, where I can count a few).

It took me 9hrs 5mins exactly to complete the campaign which is 15 chapters long. I could've probably shortened it to around 8hrs, but I'm a sucker for exploring every room and deliberately going in the opposite direction of the objective just to see what's laying around. :)
Posted 19:36 on 31 January 2011
calvinlo's Avatar

calvinlo

Now with hindsight, giving Isaac Clarke a voice may seem like a double-edge sword, but I think it is a necessity. One element of Dead Space is its religious, conspiracy-driven storyline, which makes most of us stand still in a corridor reading data logs while the necromorphs are lurking around. With this rich background, it is inevitable to give Isaac some human elements, rather than to leave him as a heartless stomping machine.
Posted 10:09 on 26 January 2011
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Wow, very surprised but still extremely happy with this review.
Brilliant read Martin.
Posted 07:57 on 26 January 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

Right - once this arrives, I have 2 weeks to clear DS2 and try and hit level 100 in ZP2KXX before Test Drive Unlim. 2 hits - then all my gaming time shall e spoken for until, I should say, early April.

Any thoughts on the weapon/costumes DLC that hit the marketplace today? Are the weapons new styles and types, or just reskins, does anyone know?
Posted 22:31 on 25 January 2011
thompo555's Avatar

thompo555@ squidman

Nice long campaign then. I'm interested, just need to do Dead Space 1 now!

Great read as usual!
Posted 19:47 on 25 January 2011
GeNeCyDe1993's Avatar

GeNeCyDe1993@ squidman

Thanks! Great read as well Martin.
Posted 19:40 on 25 January 2011
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Ooh, good review Martin. Wasn't going to get this, but I might be tempted.
Posted 19:17 on 25 January 2011
squidman's Avatar

squidman@ GeNeCyDe1993

From the other journos I know who've completed it, it ranges from about six hours (if you charge through) to ten. I clocked it at just over 9, mainly because I'm a bit softy and had to slowly creep around all the corridors.
Posted 19:10 on 25 January 2011
GeNeCyDe1993's Avatar

GeNeCyDe1993

Sorry if its in there and i missed it, how long roughly is the campaign?
Posted 18:58 on 25 January 2011
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

If I remember correctly the first Dead Space was a bit of a slow burner, coming out as it did practically the same day as Fable II. What I do remember is getting both on the same day and being surprised at Fable II gathering dust whilst Dead Space sucked me into its horrific immersion.

Whilst I didn't think a sequel was warranted (the first game was one of the greats) I'm delighted for the attention Visceral (formerly EA Redwood Shores) are getting now that they've made one. I really hope it sells well for them, that they make a bucket load of money, and that they come out with another great new IP further down the line.

From the review it sounds like another couple of BAFTAs will be headed their way.
Posted 18:57 on 25 January 2011
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Nice read Martin. I expected a 9 before reading the review, but this has certainly surprised me to say the least.

"giving Isaac a voice and a face is a move which may come back to haunt Visceral Games more than Derek Acorah does Living TV."

Best line so far this year. Neon has competition to make me chuckle.
Posted 18:50 on 25 January 2011
Neon-Soldier32's Avatar

Neon-Soldier32

Nice review, sounded like a 9 though. And 8 I think is the lowest score I've seen for Dead Space 2
Posted 17:51 on 25 January 2011

Game Stats

Dead Space 2
8
Out of 10
Dead Space 2
  • Lingering sense of dread.
  • Satisfying combat.
  • Production values are excellent.
  • Momentum stalls towards the end.
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 28/01/2011
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 14,623 2
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