Vault Play: Dead Space 2
Vault Play is Splitkick’s backlog series. Here, staff members will reach into their personal vaults and give scoreless reviews of games they’ve bought and have meant to play, but never got around to… until now.
I almost immediately fell in love with the original Dead Space. Within the first thirty minutes I was completely drawn into the terrifying sci-fi horror universe that Visceral Games created. What made it so great was the feeling of suspense and tension, evoking a similar atmosphere to films like The Thing and Event Horizon. For all my love of the original game, I let the sequel completely slip by me into my backlog… until now.
I was hesitant to play Dead Space 2 because I enjoyed the original so much I felt like a sequel could only be a let down. The addition of a “tacked on” multiplayer mode didn’t really help my outward impressions much either. Luckily, now that I’ve beaten the game I can say it’s a worthy sequel, even if it doesn’t match the original in terms of sheer terror.
Visceral made some key changes in Dead Space 2 that were slightly off-putting at first. The most obvious being Isaac Clarke changing from a silent protagonist to a voiced character. This could have easily been a total disaster, but actor Gunner Wright did an excellent job bringing personality to the character. While some will argue putting a voice to a formerly silent character can break down immersion, Wright’s dialogue which is peppered with plenty of well timed (and humorous) profanity makes it hard to dislike Isaac as a reluctant hero.
Pacing is another, more subtle change from the original Dead Space. This next installment errs on the side of action more than its predecessor. From the opening sequence where Isaac wakes up, you move through the game at a fairly quick pace. There are still moments of extreme tension with dark hallways, flickering lights, and horrible noises, but a good portion of the game is combat heavy and pushes you through the story at a much faster clip than the original. Some of the intense scares have been replaced by larger more “action oriented” set pieces. Not that this is a bad thing however, since many of these (especially any action sequences in zero gravity) are impressive and will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Much of the action is enabled by the large array of weapons at Isaac’s disposal. Almost all the originals like the line gun and the plasma cutter make a return, plus some new weapons like the seeker rifle and the javelin gun. Between the expanded arsenal and the new suit variations that can be found, Isaac feels much better equipped to take on the Necromorph menace this time around, which also detracts from the game’s fright factor a bit. It’s harder to be scared of monsters when you’re packing so much heat and there’s plenty of ammo conveniently lying around.
Since I did not purchase Dead Space 2 new, I did not have a chance to play the multiplayer mode which was gated behind an online pass, although a quick Google search will show you less than stellar reviews of it, and a dwindled player population. In my mind, the main draw of the Limited Edition is the included on-rails shooter Dead Space: Extraction. A surprisingly solid game, Extraction details the events leading up to the first game through multiple characters trying to make their escape from the Ishimura. It’s a PS Move title, but is still plenty of fun and playable using a standard Dual Shock controller. Clocking in at about six hours to complete, it’s some great couch co-op fun, and a welcome addition to any fan of the game’s lore and universe.
I can wholeheartedly recommend picking up Dead Space 2 if you were a fan of the original. While it may have a few key differences from the original, and exchanges some scares for shoot-outs, it’s still a great entry to the franchise. Coupled with the included Dead Space: Extraction if you pick up the “Limited Edition” (which clearly wasn’t that limited since it is still widely available) you’ll get two games for a low price point. If you’re a fan of horror and haven’t played any of the Dead Space series, then do yourself a huge favor by picking up both this and the original, and then play them immediately in sequence for some of the most intense science fiction you’ll experience this gaming generation.