Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Dead Space 2 - A Very Guilty Pleasure

Killing undead babies from hell is my new hobby. The disturbing thing is…I’ve been here before. This game is seriously wrong. Is it awful that I love it?

There are certain moments in my gaming history that have left me wondering if I ought to seeking professional help. One was whilst playing id’s reboot of the Doom series on PC. I had found a quiet corner of a terrifyingly empty room in which to cower and to my surprise discovered a chainsaw waiting…just waiting for me. I couldn’t believe my luck. My ammo reserves were getting low and here was a weapon that didn’t need any. This was a trusted old friend. I grabbed the chainsaw. Click! The room went dark. I was suddenly surrounded by hordes of undead that only wanted one thing – fresh brains! But fate had dealt a kind hand. As the throng heaved and pulsed around me, what can only be described as maniacal laughter spilled from my belly as I carved my way through the swarm. “Who’s laughing now, bitch?” I said, remembering a classic moment from Evil Dead.

Dead Space 2 is full of these gloriously psychotic moments. It’s a dirty vice; a secret that you shouldn’t admit to anyone; not even those who share it. The first time that you encounter the Pack, you will know what I mean.

What’s that sound?

That would be the booty-call of the lesser-spotted Necromorph. It is unmistakable. The best way to play Dead Space 2 is in the dark, with surround sound. This is the only way that you will be truly and completely gripped with fear to the point of pant-wetting proportions. Without surround, your experience might be restricted to barely audible yelps and cries of “what the f**k is that?” The sound effects and music are astonishing in this game and help transport you firmly into the world of Isaac Clarke, the protagonist of the game. The developers have thought carefully about every moment of the game and even in sections of relative calm, the sounds are relentless. Let’s be honest, wandering around a futuristic ghost-ship that has become the trendiest holiday spot for flesh eating Necromorphs is something we all hope to avoid, but we can’t just leave him there to deal with it alone – we have to get Isaac out of there. It’s been three years since we last dug Isaac out of this Hell, but, rather irresponsibly, he finds himself, once again, at the center of this inhuman invasion.

Isaac wakes up in the ‘psych’ ward of a remote city, floating around one of Saturn’s moons. The first ten minutes of the game are a baptism of fire as you run for your life whilst imprisoned with a straight-jacket. No weapons. No tools. No friends. It is a thrilling introduction to the game and once it has you, it doesn’t let go. You eventually find some not-long-for-this-world chump to cut you out of the jacket and give you your first weapon in the fight against the Necromorphs. A torch! You gotta be f*****g kidding me… Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I gladly take the torch and watch in horror as my newest friend slashes his own throat. Shit. This is…really bad.

To the toolshed…

Turns out that Isaac is a resourceful chap. Soon enough he is interrupting some invasive surgery and fashioning his first weapon; the glorious plasma cutter. It’s the weapons in Dead Space 2 that make it such a triumph. Too many games churn out the same old, bland hardware. The Dead Space team has clearly spent far too long thinking about which methods of ‘strategic dismemberment’ (yes, it’s a real thing) might yield the most comical results. My personal favourite has to be the Ripper – a remote industrial saw that brings back the glory days of Unreal Tournament in a flood of nostalgia. The Ripper is a delight, and a short spell on ‘the bench’ will tune this weapon into a powerful, economic harbinger of death.

The bench is where good things happen. Isaac, being a ‘geeky’ engineer, has the ability to upgrade each of the tools and weapons at his disposal. Power nodes that you find scattered around the place can be placed in certain slots allowing you to unlock various power boosts to your chosen muse. Upgrading is a mini-puzzle in itself and provides a surprising amoung of personalization to the gaming experience. My advice would be to concentrate on the weapons you have the ammo schematic for, and that use ammo effectively. 

The plasma rifle, for example, has a high rate of fire, but a secondary fire that will expend half a clip with each use. Although this secondary grenade launcher is a useful addition, it doesn’t really deal enough damage to warrant the cost, so I chose to steer-clear. With just one upgrade to the duration of the rippers primary attack, you will have increased the damage and reduced the consumption of this baby-chomping war-bastard. There are enough choices here to give Dead Space 2 real re-play value, and the “new game+” function allows you to start again with all the toys that you found on the first run available from the first store. Brilliant. 

(To be continued…)


  1. Another great write-up. I, too, really enjoyed this game. I did a review on my blog if you're interested.

    I think my favorite weapon was probably still the plasma cutter, though I also liked being able to impale necromorphs with rods and claws and stuff, too.

  2. Thank you.

    The plasma cutter is good, I just had way more fun with the ripper ;)

  3. There's some quality posts in this blog, Human! Both entertaining and well-written! I'm glad I followed the comment on Logan's blog over here. It's been a while since I've had a new blog to pimp over on my blog. I think I'll point some people your way.

    As far as DS2, I still want to get further than an hour into DS1 before I add DS2 to my collection. For some reason, I have a hard time getting into 3rd person games. If it was first person, I'd be all over it, I'm sure.

    Great post.

  4. Thank you for the comments.

    Since playing DS2 I am kicking myself for not playing the original. I know what you mean about third person games; they are not usually my type either, but after a while you stop noticing. Get playing! You won't regret it.