Visceral Games are back visiting the terrifying Dead Space universe, after a somewhat disappointing adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Those of you who missed the first installment of Dead Space ought to know that it was the most remarkable release of that year and even among the best games of all time in its category. Its most outstanding feature was a fresh and very successful take on player’s heads-up display and weapons that were mostly extensions of an engineer’s tools. Rest of the game was a solid tight-corridor shooter, making apparent the developer’s firm grasp on what it takes to make a thriller sci-fi game.
The resilient and persistent engineer, Isaac Clarke, is back to reprise his role as the game’s protagonist. The game begins a few years after the incidence of Ishimura, with Isaac finding himself in a medical facility of a colony on one of Saturn’s moons. Isaac is troubled by the memories of his experiences during the first game and his mind is haunted by an apparition of the Market. Looking at the plot from a bird’s-eye view, the premise is almost exactly the same as the first game, with different locales and characters.
Going into Dead Space 2, the studio had a clear disadvantage, in that the game’s key design elements had lost its novelty. With the task of delivering two titles in almost as many years, it is understandable that Visceral Games could not have accommodated being as adventurous with the sequel. Dead Space 2 will be all too familiar to returning players to the series and with relatively few new ideas. The good bit is that the single-player campaign is considerably longer, spanning over two discs on the Xbox 360.
The new content in the game comes mostly in the form of new weapons, armor and enemy types. The game-play is almost exactly the same and locales are not much different from the first game. There are a few sequences in the game when rays of innovation do shine through the typical drudgery of sequels. I won’t get into the specifics of these instances to avoid giving away spoilers; however, they are readily recognizable by being effective in alleviating the monotony that sometimes seeps into the game.
Fortunately, Dead Space 2 inherits the tight and mostly engaging game-play from its predecessor and with some added sheen. Isaac’s necromorph annihilation war-gear has received a major expansion with new weapons and armor joining the familiar stuff from the first game. Beating the game unlocks ‘New Game+’ mode which carries over all the weapons and armor, along with all unlocked upgrades. This mode also features collectible alternate versions for all armor sets, and the game in general now allows respeccing of upgrades. Another mode called Hardcore also gets unlocked which, true to its name, challenges the player to beat the entire game without dying with just three saves available.
Dead Space 2 is chockfull of content compared to the first game, but little in terms of innovation. There is great value for the purchase, but not much in terms of inspiration.
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Survival horror, third-person shooter
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: M
Price: Rs. 999 (PC), Rs. 2,499 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Value for Money: 4.5
Overall: 4 out of 5