$60 Game Review: Dead Space 2(PS3)
Published by EA, Developed by Visceral Games
By Matthew White(Chtulu80)
The first blockbuster game of the year from EA has come in the form of the sci-fi/survival horror game Dead Space 2. Once again you take the identity of engineer Isaac Clark. For those you are not familiar with the first title in this series, there is a video in the main menu you can watch which will catch you up on the events of the first title. The game explains that your shuttle from the end of the first game was found adrift around the orbit of Agesis 7 and the “Ishumura” where the first game took place. New players will have no problems jumping into this game with both feet. As the game starts you find yourself on the “Sprawl” which is a base on Saturn’s moon Titan in a straightjacket with no weapons or armor and running for your life. The game takes you both in and out of the station and also into a somewhat familiar place. The story in this game keeps up with the quality that is found in the other titles ( both animated movies, and the original game) in this series.
Through my playtime, I feel this title has a few problems with the controls. They do what they need to do, but could have been done better; such as I found myself accidentally using health and stasis packs. The majority of the controls were good and intuitive. The “run” function worked really well and didn’t feel like he was moving like a tank, a common problem in the survival horror genre. The layout of the aim and shoot buttons where very comfortable mapped to the shoulders. The signature inventory system for the previous title returns and remains unchanged as it would have taken away from the players sense of the immersion, which is vital to this genre. The surprising part of the controls were how well the “Zero-G” sections were. They were greatly improved over the last game as now you have a full 360 degrees of control. All you have to do is click the right stick to get off of the floors and you then have total control. While floating you do have the option of using boosters that are in your boots to help maneuver across the rooms.
The sound in this game definitely kicks it up! Sound is very important to this game as it helps greatly to set the mood and atmosphere of this title. I would recommend a good sound system to play this through, or, a quality gaming headset. Everything sounds as it should, gunfire has that explosive snap to it and explosions have just the right amount of bass to them. The enemies in this title make different sounds to help you realize what you are to be going up against. The stalkers have a higher pitched screech to them, they reminded me of the raptors from “Jurassic Park” While the pukers, a type of necromorph, really had that stomach gurgling sound that you knew a big stream of vomit was going to be coming at you. The main, but controversial addition to the sound of this game is Isaac speaks. In the original your character didn’t speak, but in this title he has to work with others and has to communicate. They do not over use this and add it to spots where it seems natural. This is one of the main area where this game had to perform and does it well.
Graphically this is the best I have seen on the PS3. The lighting effects where great and worked right along with the sound to set the mood of the game. The blood flows freely and does look great. The space station looks like what you would think that a space station should look like. To get a good idea of what it would seem like, think back on movies like “Aliens” or even “2001: A Space Odyssey” as good examples of what things look like, just more of an updated, “lived in” look. Though starting out brightly lit and somewhat clean looking it doesn’t stay that way for long as the tone of the game changes. The lighting gets darker; you start to see more things out of place and more areas that look like they were trashed either by survivors or by the necromorphs. The sections where you are outside of the station are spectacular. In the sections where you are floating outside of the station you can see small rocks and dust that really enhances the atmosphere and experience. The light from the laser sights on the weapons contrasted against the dark so well you wanted to go into the aiming mode even when there were not enemies on the screen just to look at it. The flash light that is attached to your weapons also help greatly in sections where there is no power. The new enemies in this game are well designed and intended to be gruesome. While in the previous title the enemies looked nasty and gruesome, this game just does it better. The returning enemies look sharper and crisper. All of this is well and good, but I did run into one issue; one area of the game I was trying to break the game by doing a lot of things such as changing weapons, going in and out of menus, and repeatedly pressing the aim buttons and the graphics seemed to tear apart a bit. I do not believe this has to do with frame rate at all, but to do with all the action on screen and information that the system was processing. I tried to replicate this in different areas with the same amount going on in the game, but had no success.
The difficulty of this game seemed to be spot on with the last title. There are 5 difficulty levels in this game with the hardest being unlocked after completing the game. My first play through was on normal difficulty and it played as how medium difficulty should. I did die quite a few times, but didn’t have too many problems figuring things out. There are puzzles in this game that with some thought are not too difficult to figure out. “Hardcore” difficulty lives up to its name. It is set to the second highest difficulty rating, but what adds to the challenge is that throughout the entire game you get 3 saves. Also on Hardcore, you are not allowed to use the “new game +” feature which allows you to carry over upgraded weapons, suits, or anything that is in your inventory safe. I would say that the length of this game is good for a non rpg game. My first play through, on normal, took me 10 hours and 38 minutes. It is not too long of a game but to me it was well worth every minute that I put into it. On my second play through I was able to shave off about 3 hours off that time. The puzzles that I mentioned above do add a small amount to the time of the game but once you know them, the game does go quicker.
Now since I played this on the PS3 I did not earn achievements, but trophies but they are the same. After I had finished the game I had checked my progress and I had earned 43% of the trophies. While I like to earn at least 50 % of achievements or trophies in the first play through I do not think that it was set up as a cheap way for a person to replay the game. I am sure if someone had tried they could get quite a bit more as there are weapon specific trophies/achievements. The only achievement that encourages replay is the one for finishing the game on “hardcore” difficulty. I had picked up the collectors edition of the game and also included as a bonus were the PS3 port of the Wii title “Dead Space: Extraction”, a special “zealot” suit and force gun, the games soundtrack, and a replica plasma cutter. All in all a good special edition well worth the higher price.
I really enjoyed my time with this game. A couple of nights I had stayed up with the lights off and headset on immersing myself into the game. I would say it is a great game for fans of the original game and a must buy. While this game does have a few problems, they are nothing that will majorly impact your game experience. If you have not played the first game I do have a word of advice, do not try the demo. The demo for this title, and for the previous game, was not a very good representation of the game. If you want to try this game, I would either rent this or the first game to get a feel of the game. I liken this game series to the “Alien” series of movies. The first title pretty much sets the atmosphere while the second still having the atmosphere ratchets up the action. If you want a great game, even for a 10.5 hour experience, give this game a try as I highly recommend it. So sit back, dim the lights, put on a good headset and enjoy the ride.
Score: 4.5 out of 5 – Get It.