Dead Space 2 Made Me Turn On All The Lights In The House

Dead Space 2 PAL boxDead Space 2 is easily one of the scariest games I’ve ever played, possibly only surpassed by the original and perhaps more recently by ZombiU. I really did have to turn all of the lights on when playing it one night – it creeped the hell out of me. I think it’s the sound effects that conjure up the scary atmosphere so successfully – the clanks, moans and unexplained noises that regularly pop up as background ambiance do wonders at sending your imagination into overdrive, so every door is opened with bated breath and an itchy trigger finger.

Special mention has to go to the opening scene, which is probably the best I’ve ever witnessed in a game. The first 15 minutes is a non-stop rollercoaster ride that draws you into the game convincingly and lays down the gauntlet in terms of creating immersion while teaching you how to play. Brilliant stuff.

I also like the way that the designers have chosen to give Isaac Clarke a voice in this one: in the original Dead Space, Isaac was mute, á la Gordon Freeman in Half-Life. I can see the reasons for doing this, in the sense that having a mute character allows the player to imprint their own personality on the avatar they’re controlling, but I also think it’s quite limiting in terms of developing that character’s story. I think giving Isaac a voice really brings the character alive in this sequel, and it leads to some memorable scenes with a few other characters who are introduced along the way.

Dead Space 2 screenshot 1

Another big improvement is the zero gravity sections, which have been beefed up considerably to allow much more freedom of movement. These sections were a particular highlight of the original, and they’re even better here.

I’m still not entirely sure about the plot though: I’m as big a fan of an obtuse and nonsensical sci-fi/horror drama as the next man, but I’m still not quite convinced that any human would willingly unleash the carnage seen in this game deliberately, no matter how crazy the religion they belong to. Is there something I’m missing? Do write in and let me know if I’m being thick here…

Anyway, apart from my slight misgivings about the plot, my only gripe with Dead Space 2 is the sudden massive increase in difficulty in the final act. The game is far from easy at the best of times, but at the end it suddenly goes completely bananas, throwing every enemy under the sun in your direction, including a Nemesis-style baddie that can’t be killed. After many, many restarts I finally got to the final boss, only to die again and again and again and again… Part of the problem was that I’d been upgrading my suit over my weapons for most of the game, so killing the final evil dude proved a little tricky with my underpowered peashooters, but even taking that out of the equation it was a pretty irritating and frustratingly difficult confrontation.

Dead Space 2 screenshot 2

Eventually, after fifteen (fifteen!) attempts at finishing off the final boss, I did the unthinkable – I gave up and just watched the ending on YouTube.

Yes, I can already feel the scorn from your accusing eyes on my ashamed face, but sometimes you’ve just got to cut your losses and move on with the rest of your life. And at least I don’t have to listen to the noise of those scary ghost children chasing me round in circles any more. Brr.

[As penned in anguish by a visibly shaken Lucius Merriweather.]

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4 Comments

Filed under Backlog - The Mantelpiece of unfinished games

4 responses to “Dead Space 2 Made Me Turn On All The Lights In The House

  1. Oh, for shame, Mr. Merriweather! *frowns and sends scornful looks* Though, I understand the frustration – I have played the first Dead Space on my PC and started it with a controller. I was quickly taught a lesson in dying a lot, because my aim is utterly lacking. Thus, I put my heavy hand back on the mouse, which increased my skill in monster killing considerably. The only downside was that it decreased the horror. But not completely! The atmosphere was still fantastically sticky and scary.

    Bah, I need to finally play the sequel too.

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    • lewispackwood

      You do, you really do! You’re right that the slightly cumbersome controls definitely add to the horror, just like in Resident Evil – it’s all about generating panic.

      That last bit of the game was a joke though – it’s basically just an insane run of the gauntlet through every enemy the game can throw at you. I even reloaded a previous save to try to improve my meagre stash of ammo, but to no avail…

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      • Oh, but the first one was the same! In the final moments of the game, there was this long long tunnel, and you were ordered to push a cart through, at the same time shooting monsters left and right. That was quite silly, though still tense.

        But, yeah, I’ve heard that the last stretch in the sequel is even more ridiculous.

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  2. Zoltan

    Lewis- nice review. The original literally scared the poo out of me, just as well I don’t have the time to play this… For scariness I’d recommend Doom 3, Amnesia, and the orphanage section in Thief 3 (if I recall). I’d like to see your take on those sick buggers. all pc though. The killer plants in the spectrum game Potty Pigeon were also pretty scary…

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