Isaac is more than just a suit.
There was a time when I would go out every weekend with friends to enjoy a good horror flick. I would get a rush from the thrill of watching disturbing things (like clowns!) jump out at me, which would cause me to flinch in my seat. Video games since then, however, have matched that perfect horror mood that most movies today can’t recreate. Since you have control over your character and can explore a creepy virtual world, while experiencing horrendous things right in front of you, you’re much more involved in that moment than if you were sitting in a theater. In short, horror video games scare the shiitake mushrooms out of me much more than horror movies do.
[image1]And what more could I be graced with than the chance to preview the latest survival-horror video game, Dead Space 2? Yay! Fortunately, I had people with me to hold my hand in case I cowered into the fetal position at any moment.
Dead Space 2 begins three years after enduring the terrifying ordeal that started on the USG Ishimura in the first Dead Space. Isaac Clarke is faced with more necromorphs (as well as new ones with super ugly faces for your enjoyment) on a vast space city called the Sprawl. His powers are upgraded, his weapons are bigger… and he exposes his face for the first time. What? The reason behind this is that the developers want to pull gamers into the Dead Space realm unlike before. The former silent protagonist, who grunted and yelled, now has a voice and shows emotion. You can now empathize with Isaac other than controlling what feels like a random person on a scary ship.
Even in the short demo, there are plenty of scenes where you think you’re alone, but a necromorph suddenly jumps out of a ventilation shaft instead. You’re grabbed, twisted violently, and the camera angle shakes and turns. Of course, we have all seen this before from the first game. If there is one thing that developers have mastered, it’s the horror factor and they have managed to emphasize that in Dead Space 2. But now you have those grotesque enemies come in hordes, not just one or two. Mix in some eerie music and gloomy atmosphere, and you have a fantastic first date night.
[image2]That said, several new necromorphs were nice enough to show their lovely faces. One is called The Puker (the name fits), which vomits on you and even when the creature is on the floor with its lower body blown to bits, it crawls and still tries to vomit on you. When you think of toddlers, you think innocent and cute, but in the Dead Space 2 universe, that does not apply. Lanky-looking and beyond creepy-looking toddlers, aptly named The Pack, with fingers wanting to claw at you definitely raises the bar on the horror factor.
Even though Dead Space’s environment is known for its dark corridors and claustrophobic areas, there are larger rooms here for a change of pace. In the demo, The Pack attacks you in a spacious church, which gives you enough room to evade and defeat the gross toddlers.
Dismembering is still the main solution for taking out the bigger necromorphs. There are several different and creative ways to do so as well, such as using their appendages to take out other necromorphs or using one of the new weapons, the Javelin Gun, to impale an enemy to a wall or any surface. And then electrocuting them or setting them on fire. It was brutal, but totally necessary to survive.
[image3]The control scheme has also changed. Both health and stasis, as well as reloading, are each assigned to a button which you couldn’t do in the original while you were in combat. Zero gravity has also changed a bit. I was able to roam around freely; unlike before, I could change direction, rotate, and even shoot things without any movement restrictions. Since developers made Isaac quicker, they also wanted the controls to feel more natural such that Isaac can move while doing multiple things at once without having to stop awkwardly instead.
The numerous improvements in this sequel are on track to create new and intense, yet similar, gameplay. Although I am easily frightened horror games, I was able to survive through the demo with bravery, and the courageous idea of trying out Dead Space 2 alone and in the dark for the full effect (not a chance). If the sequel turns out to be anything like what I previewed, then the full game, set to be released in January 2011, should be a thrill of dismembering fun in an dark, and creepy atmosphere. Can’t wait!