Published on June 27th, 2010 | by Cameron Woolsey
Dead Space 2 Impressions
In the entertainment industry, sequels mostly exist to take the original IP and improve on what made it great while fixing any issues that brought it down. With games, sequels allow the original creators to try and fully realize the game’s potential or even try to change the style of the game. EA has reported some time ago that Dead Space 2 will feature an evolved Isaac Clarke; one who is more proficient with fighting hordes of monsters and who can survive wave of enemies with more skill and speed. In my mind, this sounded like EA was going for a sequel the likes of which we have seen from the Alien franchise where Ripley returns after some time, pissed and ready to kill dozens of aliens. This, of course, is somewhat of an antithesis to what we expect from the survival horror genre.
For some time I was concerned that the Dead Space franchise will go from a slow, hallway crawling horror game, to a game that is based in survival horror but has become more of a shooter, eventually losing track of what made the original so fun in the first place. Really though, we have all witnessed what happened to another survival horror franchise, which will go unnamed. Let’s be honest, we‘ve all experienced what that feels like.
However, I was able to check it out recently and I’m excited to report that you should have no fear, Dead Space 2 is still Dead Space-not Deader Space or even Dead Space 2: Space Harder, but the survival horror game that had previously sliced and dismembered its way into our hearts. During the demonstration, which I believe was taking place early on in the game, we witnessed the kind of slow-paced, nerve-wracking crawl that made the first game so tense and satisfying. Necromorphs still hide in the shadows waiting to jump at you, scaring the big metal pants off of Isaac.
But EA was serious when they said that the combat is different, and it is. The combat isn’t necessarily designed to be faster as it is designed to be much more streamlined. Switching weapons seemed to be a much less complicated affair, and Isaac has learned a couple new tricks. Those who have played Dead Space before know that necromorphs are pretty nasty. They have blades for arms and the only way you can kill them is by severing their razor sharp appendages before they get too close. So why not use this to your advantage? In Dead Space 2, Isaac can now use his Kinetic Module (his gravity weapon) to pick up a severed blade and then throw it right back at the enemy with enough force to send the mutated puss-bag flying through the air before being impaled against a wall. Hell, yes! There can be nothing more satisfying than that. Well, at least that’s what I thought until we ran across an exploder necromorph. Using the Javelin Gun, a new weapon to the series, we watched as the exploder was pinned to a wall far across from Isaac. An attack from a bladed necromorph allowed Isaac to sever the creature’s razor-like arm and send the monster screaming across the gap and right next to the hanging exploder. As a smile curled my lips, Isaac took aim and shot the glowing yellow bag attached to the exploder and I watched as the two monsters detonated in a cloud of red and yellow mist. Now I have played all of Dead Space but that was possibly one of the best necromorph kills I have ever seen. Now I’m satisfied and I can’t wait to try it myself!
During the demo we got to check out one of the newest additions to the necromancer ranks: the Pack. The creatures that make up the pack are small child-like necromorphs. They aren’t so much grotesque as they are plain creepy. A pack member on its own is hardly worth a challenge, but they are not called “the Pack” because they travel alone. We watched as Isaac was assaulted by over a dozen of them at a time. The line gun made quick work out of quite a few of them, but they move fast and their small statures make it difficult to draw a good bead on them. However, the Pulse Rifle, making its return from the first game, makes easy work out of the Pack. I have to be honest, I have fought against many necromorphs in my time, but the Pack with their gray, pale skin and child-like demeanor made them the some of the creepiest creatures I’ve seen in some time.
Anti gravity sections are making a return but now gamers will have far more control than ever thanks to Isaac’s fancy new suit. While floating about, players will be able to use tiny jets attached to the suit to gently or quickly change their direction in full 360 degrees. In the demo, we watched Isaac complete a simple hacking puzzle to turn off gravity and gently nudge his way through the air to get to the next level above. I believe this will create many new environmental challenges for players to navigate while they play-definitely a big improvement over being stuck moving in only one direction. EA has said that there will be hacking puzzles littered throughout the game. Some can be complicated while others are as simple as the previously mentioned puzzle which simply turned off gravity in the area.
The first Dead Space took place mainly aboard a mining ship. The team did a good job making many unique areas to prevent the environments from feeling repetitive. But the small ship still reduced the amount of environments that players could experience. Dead Space 2 fixes that problem by providing players en entire city to explore. Named, The Sprawl, this massive city will allow players to become exposed to more than rusted ship hulls. The Dead Space team has told me that The Sprawl is larger in both scope and variety, offering new areas such as churches, hospitals, schools, and more for players to fight through.
Dead Space helped to reinvigorate the weakening survival horror genre. Dead Space 2 is looking like it will be raising the bar again, from graphics, to sound, to well, everything-the game looks just simply amazing. The only disappointing thing about it is that we won’t be able to play it until sometime next year. After watching this demo, the wait for it suddenly seems a lot harder.