Dead Space 2 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC)
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
To be released: 2011
Anyone that's seen the original Dead Space knows just how good that game looks. Yet Dead Space 2 is somehow able to surpass the last game, as everything looks vastly superior. From what I saw, the graphics were very smooth and crisp, and it's almost hard to believe that the Visceral team is using the same game engine. The lighting and audio quality design was looking as good as ever too.
The Sprawl is a huge metropolis-like environment and the graphical improvement does justice to the variety of colors and textures we'll be seeing. There's still that industrial feel you got from the first game, but you can also expect to see a lot of natural, earthy textures thanks to the mining operation on Titan.
With the new setting comes some new enemies, four of which were shown off. The first new Necromorph was the Stalkers, raptor-like creatures that charge the player. Catch one by itself, and you'll see that it's pretty cowardly. In a group, however, Stalkers work together to gang up on Isaac. The Pack, another new enemy type, are the child-like Necromorphs that attack in groups like the Stalkers.
Later we saw some Cysts, environmental hazards that stick to one place. Once something gets too close, the Cyst will shoot out an explosive pod, often times killing itself, since the explosive pods fall right back down. Another creature, the Crawler, is a twisted, baby-like monster that will explode upon contact.
The new enemies were pretty fierce and overwhelming, but new and improved weapons will aid Isaac in his mission. Two of the new weapons shown off were the Javelin and the Detonator. The Javelin is a high-powered spear gun that can unleash an electrical blast as an alt-fire. Once the spear is stuck in a enemy or the ground, players will be able to manually trigger the electrical charge. The Detonator is a trip-mine-laying device that shoots out a mine and trip wire. Once an enemy crosses the trip wire, the mine explodes.
Just like in the previous game, you want to make every shot count. With some of the new features, however, you'll probably find yourself using your guns a lot less. The Kinesis module is greatly improved, and it will be an integral part of your arsenal. You can now rip off body parts from the Necromorphs with Kinesis, and then impale the creatures with their own body parts. The environments are destructible as well, so if you find yourself short on ammo, just smash up a room and toss objects like wall paneling at Necromorphs.
Another tool of destruction available to you is the vacuum of space itself. Some areas on the Sprawl are under construction, and players will be able to decompress a room by shooting out certain windows susceptible to damage. Isaac can get sucked out as well but there's an emergency switch that players can shoot to release emergency shutters. If you're too slow though, you'll get sucked out -- or the emergency shutter will close on its own with Isaac halfway out. Oh yes, the grisly death animations are still intact, and they're as brutal as ever.
All of the new additions to Dead Space 2 are part of the series' evolution; they give the player more strategic options. Earlier I mentioned the Cyst. A good tactic with those creatures would be to slow down time on the Cyst and then lure another Necromorph over. The Necromorph will run by just as the explosive pod drops, nailing two birds with one stone without even firing a single shot.
That type of gameplay option even goes into how you'll upgrade Isaac. In the event you don't like the new look of the badass power suit, you can opt out from getting it and buff out your current suit. You'll be able to upgrade an older suit that will be equal to the final suit of the game. Players will also have a greater choice in how they upgrade weapons, and the store and work bench will be a lot "cooler than last time."
I played the original game four times in a row just to be able to upgrade all of my weapons to their fullest potential. Needless to say, I'm very excited for Dead Space 2. I was extremely impressed with everything I saw, and the Visceral team is going in the right direction from what I saw.
My only concern with the sequel is the mission structure. The first Dead Space got way too tedious and stale, since every mission was about Isaac fixing one broken thing after another. So long as the mission structure is actually varied this time around, I think we're going to have one amazing sequel.
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