48 Reviews

Dead Space 2

It'll all end in fears...

When you finish the ten-hour campaign of Dead Space 2, you'll be mentally and physically exhausted. That's a recommendation, by the way.

Following on from the excellent yet cruelly overlooked original, EA's talented Visceral Games studio has taken an already terrifying game and spliced it with some grandly spectacular action moments. The result is a true emotional rollercoaster.

From its opening eerie minutes to the ridiculous, television-shaking conclusion, Dead Space 2 immerses you to the max. Only thing is, it immerses you somewhere not very pleasant and plays with your feelings like no game we've ever come across. At times, it's like a twisted episode of Deal or No Deal - where Noel Edmonds has got a gun.

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This is adrenaline-pumping, cushion-chewing entertainment. It's sitting on the edge of the couch wishing that light in the corner could just be a bit brighter, a bit less scary. It's horrific fun.

We've not had a video game fuel this much energy through our bodies since... well, the original Dead Space. They really should put a weak heart warning on the box.

CITY OF SIN
Set some years after the first DS (there's a catch-up video for you lot who skipped the first game - you know who you are), Dead Space 2 opens with protagonist Isaac Clarke awakening on the floating space city, The Sprawl, based off Saturn's Titan moon.

For reasons that later become apparent, the situation on the starry metropolis is just as dire - and monster-filled - as when Isaac last passed into a coma, when leaving the Ishimura - and the story has more than a few gigantic twists that plunge Isaac's plight into even more desperate areas.

The Sprawl is infested with Necromorph horrors, which - in case you're one of the shamed few who missed the original - are a sort of alien infection that mutate and infest dead human host bodies. You wouldn't want to kiss one, let's put it that way.

Luckily for those who bypassed the first title, catching up on the story is over in seconds; within a blink of an eye, you're what the blazes is going on, with Isaac is running (and shooting) for his life through the burning city.

The Sprawl is a far more lived-in setting than Dead Space 1's rusty mining ship, and this domestic contrast enhances the horror element brilliantly. Thankfully you explore it in a far more freeform and unpredictable manner than via first game's rigid tram system.

In the opening hours you'll navigate through shopping malls, apartment blocks and schools as civilians flee through the atmosphere-soaked hallways and nail-biting sonic scares.

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Everything in the city has a connection and context - if you're feeling brave you could even make comparisons to the ultimate gaming locale, BioShock's Rapture. In the school, for example, you'll fend off armies of corrupted children and screeching babies, while the Church of Unitology has a very Andrew Ryan-esque animatronics display explaining the origins of the shady religion.

Text and audio diaries also litter the streets and buildings. These have a notable focus on retelling the story of how things came to be, recapping ordinary citizens' ordeals as the city in which they live descends into outright chaos.

EXPLODEMON-STER
It's these kinds of elements that piece together Dead Space 2's rollercoaster pacing - which often had our hearts thudding so strongly we had to pause the game, before twaddling off to sweat it out in the corner.

Visceral is excellent at building tension - although it relies a little too heavily on the player running out of ammo to build panic. That said, you're going to be bullet-happy here: We can recall the first moment in the 10-hour campaign when a screeching Necromorph exploded into our moving elevator - but from then on we were ironsights-up for every single trip.

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