Don’t play “Dead Space 2.” Don’t buy it, don’t rent it; don’t even walk past it in the store.
That is, of course, unless you enjoy sleepless nights of insomnia plagued with paranoia and fear, because every sight and sound within “Dead Space 2” has a singular purpose––to find you and scare you to death. And it does its job very well.
For those of you unfamiliar with the “Dead Space” franchise, it burst onto the survival horror genre in 2008.
The original entry in the series followed protagonist Isaac Clarke, an engineer who lands with a small team on a mysteriously derelict spaceship, the USG Ishimura, to discover its inhabitants have been transformed into horrific monstrosities called necromorphs, which can only been killed by severing their limbs.
Isaac Clarke returns in the second game, this time finding himself on “the Sprawl,” a gigantic city space station and, once again, the necromorphs have come to reap chaos.
Make no mistake, “Dead Space 2” is not about hunting necromorphs. It’s about escaping and avoiding them at all costs; they are hunting you; and boy, do they want you dead.
The gameplay in “Dead Space 2” is very similar, if not identical, to that of the original “Dead Space.”
Players use an array of weapons to sever limbs like nobody’s business and make their way through nightmarish environments filled to the brim with tension in a desperate attempt to survive. If there is a hitch in “Dead Space 2’s” gameplay, it’s during the sequences in zero-gravity.
While many of these moments are entertaining and provide a welcome change of pace, they can be frustrating beyond belief if you aren’t exactly certain what you’re supposed to do to solve the puzzle that goes along with the floaty controls.
The gameplay does offer an exciting new feature in its difficulty settings, namely the hardest setting––“hardcore.”
Unlocked only after players have made it through the story once, “hardcore” mode challenges you to make it through the entire game with limited health and ammo and limits you to only three save points the entire game.
However, while the original “Dead Space” confined players to the small, claustrophobic corridors of spaceship, the new game features larger, more varied and more horrifying environments.
I defy you to keep your cool as the deformed and reanimated corpses of children rabidly attack you through the cartoonishly happy hallways of their former daycare.
Isaac Clarke himself is even improved upon in the sequel.
Whereas in the first game, Isaac was entirely silent and hid behind the mask of an engineering suit for all but the very end of the game, in “Dead Space 2” he is a much more prominent presence and as such players are able to become much more invested in him and his well-being.
Changing Isaac from the strong and silent type to more of an average Joe is a definite improvement.
While the plot of “Dead Space 2” isn’t awful, it’s not awe-inspiring either.
The game is filled with its share of plot twists and surprises, but nothing the story offers compares with the excitement of simply wandering through “the Sprawl,” hoping against hope that that clatter in the distance is just space wind.
“Dead Space 2” is exciting, entertaining and at times absolutely terrifying. It does a phenomenal job of immersing players within the world Isaac Clarke reluctantly finds himself in––a world where screaming, rabid space zombies bent on tearing flesh from bone can only be held at bay by severing their rotting limbs.
So don’t play “Dead Space 2.” That is, unless you’re okay with having nightmares.
4 and a half stars out of 5.