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Yesterday, while cleaning up my media center, I found my copy of Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus, which I bought sometime before Christmas last year. I had been pretty excited about this game pre-release, what with it being the first "traditional", albeit shorter than usual,...

Rewrite of IGN's Dead Space 2 Review

Posted on Wednesday, January 26 @ 15:10:18 Eastern by

[In short (especially if you skipped reading everything I wrote on page one), I recommend opening the original review for a handy side-by-side comparison. You can even read Jesse's Dead Space 2 review on our site for extra credit. Either way, snarkiness aside, you should see the difference. The included images are there only to break up what would otherwise be a wall of text.]

Dead Space 2 is an amazing game - scary moments, cool kills, and an endearing story enriched by the main character's internal struggle. But it's much more than that. Even after I beat the game, my heart continued to race. When I finally calmed down, I started my second playthrough. And when that was done, I started my third.

It's been three years since the events of the first game, but protagonist Isaac Clarke still can't catch a break. At the beginning of Dead Space 2, he finds himself on a space station known as the Sprawl, overwhelmed by an outbreak of reanimated corpses called Necromorphs. Isaac quickly swipes a plasma cutter, dons an engineering suit, and scours the station in search of the religious idol known as the Marker, the source of all the mayhem.

But beyond the common fight for survival, it is Isaac's internal conflict that humanizes the story. Unlike Uncharted's Nathan Drake, who can kill a few hundred pirates and remain seemingly unfazed, Isaac has been traumatized by his experiences, racked with guilt over endangering and failing to protect his girlfriend on the USG Ishimura in the first Dead Space. Though he acts as if nothing bothers him, the player comes to understand that this is just a fragile facade that hides his true thoughts and hallucinations.

Most people around him wouldn't know this, though, because Isaac plays the role of the badass exceptionally well. He's fast and light on his feet, stomps crates with ease, attacks corpses for loot, and grabs objects with telekinesis. He can even slow down a Necromorph, blow its arm off, and use the severed arm to impale the foe on a wall.

No longer a scared engineer tossed into hell, Isaac is the kind of hero who is meant to survive what is the most spine-chilling haunted house ever conceived by a video game. By stripping out the backtracking and sporadic disorientation from the first Dead Space, this sequel remains fast-paced, suspenseful, and scary. The purposefully linear environments of confined hallways and corridors, of pitch-black rooms and cheery schoolhouses, heightens every sound and silence. Was that a monster making its move or just my dog rummaging in the living room?

Getting through Dead Space 2 alive means making good use of returning weapons, such as the saw blade-spitting Ripper, as well as new items, like the three-laser Detonator trip mine. Each of these weapons - along with your suit, telekinesis, and stasis module - can be upgraded for maximum ass-kicking, and then saved and carried over to your next playthrough. Suffice it to say, wanting to obtain a new suit or pimped-out weapon is enough of an incentive to play the game over.

Also included is "Hardcore" mode, and it's nothing less than sadistic: tough enemies, limited supplies, no checkpoints, and dying means restarting from the last save. Oh, and saves can only be made three times. Good luck with that.

On the downside, how missions are relayed hampers the overarching story. Though having Isaac wrestle with his inner demons enhances the narrative, Isaac is constantly told what to do and where to go by characters whose only purpose is to do just that. The search for the Marker should lead Isaac down the path of maturity as a protagonist, but these rigid orders don't allow him to take charge of his own fate.

Another stumble is the barebones multiplayer, which has five modes played on separate maps. Players are broken into two teams: the humans have an objective and the Necromorphs are out to stop them at all costs. All this boils down to humans running to some vague objective, holding out as long as they can, and then dying, while Necromorphs hope to deal what little damage they can to a weakened opponent or set the kill up for a friend. The droll pacing feels out of place for a Dead Space title.

On console specifics, the PlayStation 3 version comes with Dead Space Extraction, and getting it in HD with Trophy support is a win. It also supports the PlayStation Move and the regular controller, both of which work well.

Dead Space 2 is more than just an action game or a survival horror game - it reveals the scars lying beneath a hero's skin. This is only bettered by rewarding combat, shocking enemies, and a world that's unforgettably creepy. Although the multiplayer isn't interesting and Isaac should be less of an errand boy, Dead Space 2 is an excellent game whose extraordinary single-player is well worth your time and money.

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