Dead Space was a really enjoyable game to me. It was a wonderful homage to Alien, The Thing, Event Horizon, and just about every other good science-fiction horror movie made during the Eighties. The game suffered for the fact there were too many killable monsters and after slaying your 60th or 70th Necromorph, they're not really all that intimidating. Despite this, I was entertained and decided to pick up the remaining two in the trilogy.
The premise of Dead Space 2 is Isaac Clarke has spent the past three years completely off his rocker in a Jupiter Space Station insane asylum. His doctors seem less interested in curing our demented protagonist than trying to extract whatever information he might have gleaned about the Necromorphs and the mysterious Marker which created them. So, of course, one day a new Necromorph outbreak occurs within a major metropolitan area in the same system as Earth.
|The straight-jacket section neither lasts too long nor is too short.|
If they wanted to do a horror game then shouldn't they have done what they did in spin-offs by having a new protagonist? Perhaps another one with a funny name derived from science fiction authors or actors? Howard Phillips? Sigourney Hamilton? [note: Howard Phillips actually shows up as a dead NPC in this game.] Isaac Clarke's return was a welcome one but he couldn't react with newcomer's eyes this time around. No matter what, Isaac is an action survivor and knows how to deal with the situation.
|The Church of Unitology is one of my favorite parts of the game. Creepy and atmospheric.|
It is an extremely fast-paced adventure where you're constantly shooting enemies which have the potential to overwhelm you at any moment. Things never let up in the game so there's not an easy break between chapters the same way there was in the original game. You never get to catch your breath in Dead Space 2 as one disaster invariably leads to the next and this has both its highs and lows.
|I hate, hate, HATE the monster kids.|
Isaac Clarke is also a voiced protagonist now so he no longer is silent during ridiculously perilous scenes like when he's covered with monsters trying to rip his body apart. Admittedly, a large portion of his vocabulary is exclamations of surprise or profanity but that's pretty much how most people react to constant unexpected disaster.
|My other favorite part of the game is where you visit an elementary school.|
The villain is nothing to write home about as the EarthGov Station Commander wants Isaac to be killed and it's not until halfway through the game you even get an inkling as to why he's expending massive amounts of force to get at our protagonist. Even then, I find his motivations weak as Isaac is every bit as devoted to stopping the Necromorph threat as he is. This is compensated by the addition of Ghost Nicole, who exists to torment Isaac with accusations of letting her die as well as reminders that he failed to stop the first Necromorph outbreak from spreading. She wears out her welcome but I think the fact the game avoids forgetting about Nicole's existence like so many others would have to be a plus.
|The action is fast-paced and lethal.|
Besides, it's not exactly easy to cross a space station full of literally millions of monsters. The situation was tense and claustrophobic the first time around onboard the Ishimura but this feels outright apocalyptic. Wandering through familiar seeming places like apartment complexes, food courts, shopping centers, and offices adds a sense of groundedness to an otherwise space opera-esque setting.
|Ellie is a great character, even if I was distracted by a badass Brit in pig-tails.|
The world's background gets a good deal more development as we come to understand the role of Unitology in the setting, its influence, and a little bit more about what the Markers want to achieve. I also give props to the developers for creating many well-designed levels with a minimum of backtracking.
The aforementioned Church of Unitology is a great place to fight monsters in and so is the creepily traumatic elementary school level. They don't shy away from the fact kids are murdered and turned into monsters in this game. I also loved the zero-g sections which are fun and not at all tedious, unlike the previous game. There's also an unexpected benefit of everything being silent in zero-G, so you can't hear the monsters coming. Jump scares are replaced with gore as Necromorphs explode in spectacularly splatterpunk fashions.
|The best possible weapon against vampires is a solar satellite weapon.|
In general, none of this offended me because the violence was rarely against people and Isaac is usually in his Iron Man-esque suit. Still, you get to see a human being dismembered from the inside out as he turns into a necromorph in your first five minutes of gameplay. The game might have benefited from dialing it down a notch.
So, was it a good thing or a bad thing to change up the game? Well, it's a different sort of game but certainly not worse. I also think it improves in several respects. I also respect the transition in genre as similar to the one which happened between Alien and Aliens. As a result, I'm going to heartily recommend it.