Dead-Space-2

So I played about 14 hours of DeadSpace 2, got to the final chapter of the game and then gave up. I make every effort to finish every game I review and so far, I’ve done that, right up until this one.  My thoughts on the game are below.

Back in Issacs boots I begun the horrifying trek to discover where I was and why the necromorphs were once again doing their thing. The followup story is decent enough, bad things are happening and apparently most people including the military aren’t as good at killing stuff as plucky ole engineer Issac Clarke.

The visual and audio quality of Dead Space 2 are evident throughout the game, as with the original the atmosphere is fantastic, with creepy ambient sounds and a sense of foreboding around every corner.  The graphics as with most sequels have improved aswell, everything looks sharper, smoother and with more detail. I particularly like the lighting and shadows of this series, they capture a horrifying sense of what Issacs world is like.

Sequel means more stuff right? more guns, more suits, more bad guys etc. Perhaps though the designers took this a little too litteraly, it gets increasingly shooty. The more you end up dealing with waves of enemies that just keep coming, the less horrifying it becomes and the more it just feels cheap and gamey. This is especially true with a couple of elevator rides and a mining drill section, where you just basically stand in a confined space and shoot stuff constantly until it ends.

There is a stage later in the game, where you return to a place from the original game, I won’t spoil it, but it is the one time when they do try to recapture that sense of fear and anticipation, but it is short-lived and then you’re back shooting lot’s of stuff in the face…or limbs. If you imagine any encounter in Deadspace where you face two or three bad guys, double it and then you’d pretty much have the average encounter in Dead Space 2. In fact…that is probably part of the design document…double stuff to shoot.

There are plenty of new guns, although I found myself mostly sticking with old favorites from the original, I tried the Javelin gun, which fired long steel spikes that you can electrify the area around them, upon impact and also the ripper, which fired circular saw blades or doubled as a short-range melee weapon. They were both interesting to use, but given how I loved the plasma cutter, line gun and pulse rifle, I dropped the Javelin. I think perhaps the game would work better if you didn’t have to buy the guns but rather you found them, then you could test them out before deciding what you wanted. It was the same issue in the original too mind, I was just afraid of buying guns I didn’t like, wasting my limited cash in the process.

I seemed to spend most of my money on nodes, med kits and new suits, generally always opting to get tougher and more survivable than experiment with new guns, so unfortunately I can’t comment on the other guns as much. I noted I definitely needed to buy more medkits this time around, still playing on normal, I always seemed to be in a state of constant near death shortly after healing up. I would get full health, and then for some reason the next fight would drop my health a ton but not enough to kill me, meaning i would just struggle on.

As with the original, upgrading the guns is a hard choice, while they definitely perform better with upgrades, often the path to the upgrades requires sacrificing some points into “dead” relays along the tree. Even so, I only managed to get about half way along three of the four guns I carried. Fortunately none upgraded guns are still reasonably effective for the whole game, which both makes sense and is a good design I feel. Nothing worse than having guns that aren’t “good enough”.

The different suits come with perks, such as the security suit which I used for most of my playtime, which gave a 5% bonus to the pulse rifles damage. You always retain the best suits armor bonus and inventory space, which was a great way of allowing you to keep your look/perk while still benefiting from a new suit upgrade.

I made it to chapter 14, which is pretty much 10-15 minutes gameplay away from the end. At that point I had spent all my money, upgraded everything I could afford to and was locked into my choices. I then had to suffer an encounter with an invincible boss necro, as in the original this isn’t particularly fun, you have to shoot his limbs off and then stasis it while you try to hack a control panel before it can regenerate and attack you again. Well, turns out I couldn’t manage this, possibly because I hadn’t upgraded my stasis ability enough.

I tried time after time, the one time I did manage to hack the control panel, I was treated to an instant kill animation immediately after, because my health was too low and the regenerating boss necro had silently off camera crept up on me again, leading to some audio of my own… At this point I decided I’d had enough. Normally I’d probably just turn on god mode to get past such an obstacle, but there are no cheats which don’t involve already finishing the game sadly, at least not on pc anyway, so that wasn’t an option.

I went off to youtube to discover what I had missed and it turns out that was the beginning of a supposedly fun sequence of being chased by the invincible necro boss for an entire chapter. Given that didn’t look like it was something I wanted to experience, I gave up playing, after that bit there is one more fight and then the games pretty much over anyway. Annoyed I couldn’t finish it myself really, I would be tempted to go back and try again but then judging by what happens after, there isn’t any reason to, because it didn’t look that rewarding anyway.

Deadspace 2 is a frustrating if well made game, I think it tries a little too hard to throw enemies at you and doesn’t have enough confidence in its own ability to maintain engagement, when not shooting something between cut scenes. Maybe this really is what console gamers want, personally I think it loses something from the original by doing it. The final chapters for me at least, were about as fun as chewing glass, so naturally I’m not too impressed by whoever thought that was a good idea. The fact I checked how many levels this game has, twice during playing it, implies perhaps I just wanted it to be over anyway.

If you enjoyed the original, the sequel still has some excellent elements from that, its flaws are mostly where it tries to “improve” upon them. Although I will say the controls are definitely smoother and more intuitive this time around. It does the triple A look well, but it has some questionable design choices in gameplay, you’ll either like that more “action” feel to it, or you’ll be as disappointed as I was.

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