Horror is a fickle, fickle thing. For example, to some people the pure embodiment of fear is a spider. To others, a spider is nothing more than a pet to be adored, played with and treated with respect. And to a third group, they are simply target practice.
In terms of the metaphorical spider that is Dead Space 2
, I would fit into the latter category.
Dead Space 2
takes place 3 years after the original. Isaac is now on Titan Station, on the moon of Saturn that bears the same name, being 'treated' for his troubled mind after the events aboard the Ishimura,
otherwise known as Dead Space 1
. He is woken up just in time to see someone Necromorph-icated, and is then sent on another limb-severing journey through the station, now under siege and pretty much entirely within the undead zombie mutant alien claws of the Necros.
Which would seem like a tragedy were it not for the fact that anyone genre-savvy enough would have seen this coming from a mile away. Seriously. The people in charge knew
what happened to the crew. They knew
that it was the Marker that did it. So, why oh why did they make a NEW Marker? AND why did they tow the Ishimura to Titan Station?
Half the blood on the walls must be from people banging their heads at this monumental stupidity.
Well, they probably didn't see it all coming, anyway. There are a few new Necromorph forms to deal with now, and thankfully less of those overly annoying wall-screamer ones that weren't so much a pain in the arse, as they were a pain in the ears. The new forms include one that vomits acid on you, slowing you down, exploding babies, Necromorph-icated children cannon-fodder and a couple of larger nasties that also have glowing weak spots like the other bigger Necros from the first game.
They're also a lot more frequent than in the first game, which brings me to my main criticism: The horror is gone. Dead Space 1
was not overly scary, mostly because you always had a way to combat them, but there were moments of uneasy tranquility where you weren't under attack, but were wondering when you next would be. Dead Space 2
attempts to solve this... by adding more creatures. Which totally ruins the only moderately scary part of the first one, being the final nail in the coffin for Dead Space 2
in terms of fright power. And, unlike the many dead guys in the game, this isn't going to be getting back up anytime soon.
This would be forgivable, had the game not tried to be a horror game anymore. But, everything about it just seems to scream horror at you so much that it's rather sad. So much so in fact that I have decided to no longer refer to this as a Survival Horror franchise, more a Survival Grossout one.
There's a few new psychological elements added in too, but for the most part it's nothing more than indecipherable double-meaning sentences babbled at you incoherently by an obvious hallucenation in an un-interactive manner. And by the time it gets important to know
what it's all about, your ability to care has left for another planet.
Mind you, it's not all bad. The new Zero-G micro-boosters-floaty-jetpack bits are very well done, a marked improvement over the 'flying-squirrel-leap' method from the first game. The new suits are a lot nicer to look at than the previous ones, the difficulty's been ramped up a tad (though, perhaps a little too much.), it is now a lot harder to go through the entire game with just the Plasma Cutter (but not impossible), Isaac's more relatable as he now has a face (visible outside the opening and ending cutscenes) and a voice. He even swears repeatedly when repeatedly stomping in the face of the undead monstrosity that caused you to restart the last section over and over and over, which adds to the therapeutic value of doing such an action. He's as pissed off as you are, and he's not afraid to tell you, not to mention the fact that there is now credible and visible evidence that Isaac is an engineer, by him doing engineer-y things, like dismantling medical gear to get his Stasis back, or how he hot-wires panels to open doors and such.
The most impressive part is the seamlessness of it, though. There are no chapter-switching loading screens like there was in the first one, which is a factor that adds to the immersion, which is never a bad thing in games like this. It does seem like an attempt to make it more scary, as the more immersed you are, the more the game's monsters seem legitimately able to hurt you and not just Isaac. Big props for that.
Of course, the game is longer now, but this is not the all-positive point you think it is. As there have been only a few new 'morph forms added, the constant battles boil down to the same types over and over again, the same as the last game. Which means that the combat quickly begins to drag as you find yourself going through the motions again and again.
Which, in a game like this, is not a point in it's favour. Adding length to this monotony only serves to make us dread picking up the controller again, making us suffer through the rest of this horror-but-not-really Survival Grossout game.
Oh, and the evil church from the first game is back. Damn religion.