Dead Space 2 was a very enjoyable game. Itís very atmospheric in the beginning levels, particularly at the start when Issac is stuck in a straightjacket and must dodge the necromorphs. This was such a strong opening and the game continued increasing the tension and fear up until the second half, which unfortunately, did not meet the standards set in the first half.
While the game does not have any backtracking, I did notice that events forced Issac and Ellie to revisit areas again. (Not the Ishimura, because I haven't played the first Dead Space. I mean areas like the shopping mall.) This is even commented on in-game. Ellie actually says to Issac, ďWeíve been going around in circles!Ē I feel that the game could have benefited from being shorter.
I'm primarily a console gamer and Dead Space 2 is the first game I've played on the PC, which meant for the first three chapters I was wasn't controlling Issac with ease and rapidly shooting enemies like a pro. Not that I play like a pro normally, anyway. Nope, I was mostly flailing about; moving around so tortuously slowly it would put a tortoise weighed down by heavy shopping bags to shame.
I am aware that it is possible to complete the game in a shorter time thanks to hardcore mode, where the player only has three saves and must rely on checkpoints. If I had an Xbox copy of the game, I think I might have attempted this (after practicing on zealot mode).
It's a scary game but it's not survival horror. I'm not scrabbling around for supplies as enemies drop a lot of them anyway. The game does like to leave you running into empty rooms and empty corridors for a long time before they drop a load of crazy, frothing necromorphs at you.
The graphics and design are amazing. The necromorphs are disgusting and horrifying. Their limbs are bent and shaped at odd angles and some of them vomit on you to slow you down. The creepiest ones I thought were the Stalkers and the Guardians. With Stalkers, itís the not the rushing that creeps me out, itís the way the head peeks slyly behind a box or wall, looks at you, turns to another Stalker and then lets out a cry before running at you. They communicate with each other and use group tactics to try and take you out.
The Guardian is just disgusting to look at; a human attached to wall with tentacles flailing from a cavity in the stomach. Itís constantly crying out in pain before spewing out smaller monsters that can attack at a distance.
Funnily enough, I found Nicole, Issacís girlfriend to be the creepiest thing of all. I was never sure if she was real or a Marker-induced hallucination. I think it gave an insight to Issacís character, since it made clear that he suffered from a lot of guilt over her death and was angry at himself for not saving her. I know some people thought he was a whiny character, but I thought he was a strong character. As a comparison, I thought Marcus Fenix from Gears of War 3 was a lot more annoying after Donís death. Whereas Issac tried his best to cope with the flasbacks and hallucinations, he didnít burden anyone else with his problems and tried to help others as well as trying to find a way of the situation he was placed in. He was calm to Ellie and only killed Stross because of the Marker influencing him. Marcus, on the other hand, let his temper out on others and felt his grief over Don was far more important than anyone elseís problems. He got angry at a man who lost his whole village to the lambent infestation!
Another thing that was creepy was the NoonTech Diagnostic Machine. It involves sticking a needle into Issacís eye just to get Marker information. A needle! In your eye! Thatís just wrong, and itís just painful to think about.
On a side note, I thought Issac Clarke was named after the scientis Issac Newton, who apparently did stick a darning needle in his eye until he poked the backside, in order to study optics. But heís really named after the science fiction author.
My favourite levels were the Church of Unitology levels and the nursery levels. The Church of Unitology is made up of empty church pews and vestries splattered with blood, with monsters crawling in the darkness while angelic statues gaze serenely at the ceiling. Accompanying this scene is a recorded message on a loop, detailing the church's belief that humans will be eventually unified into one conscious. On top of all that, Issac gets debilitating flashbacks every so often. The nursery levels are equally creepy and the bright, cheery atmosphere is slightly jarring. Itís like Nís room in Pokťmon Black and White turned up to eleven or something. Also, baby necromorphs are just horrifying.
The transition between cutscenes and gameplay was seamless, though it was so good that sometimes I didnít realise I had control of Issac until I actually died. I also wish there was a bit more focus between the two factions: EarthGov and the Church of Unitology. There could have been a great science vs religion subplot going on there. However it might have been covered in the text and audio logs, which I didnít pick enough of.
As mentioned previously, Iím a console gamer, and I found using keyboard controls on the PC a bit difficult. I couldnít switch between weapons quick enough and I found it hard to tell what weapon was assigned to what key. At the start, I was using the Plasma Cutter, Bloody Flamethrower Triage javelin gun and Agility Rivet Gun. By the end I had switched to the Plasma Rifle and Line Gun. The Seeker Rifle was only useful for the zero gravity levels in order to take out the nest at a distance. I like that each weapon has alternate fire, and I started using kenesis and stasis a lot more. Necromorphs do drop a lot of ammo, so thereís none of the tension with conserving ammo and scrabbling for supplies.
Overall, I did enjoy the game, I did find some parts of it genuinely scary and I will probably get Dead Space 3 and 1 on the Xbox. I'm particularly intrigued by the co-op mode - I hope the atmosphere will be maintained and that the new necromorphs will need proper teamwork to take them out. What do you guys think?