There was a time when survival horror games were content with scaring gamers. Today, a sense of catharsis is equally important. After skulking around in the darkness for hours on end, wetting their pants at sudden noises, players want to inflict some serious pain on their tormentors. Dead Space 2 feeds that primal urge. It allows you to dismember, stomp and eviscerate the enemy in gruesome ways that would give the weak hearted nightmares for days. It is one of the few games that treads the line between horror and action with such flair, it would make Clive Barker (or Stephen King for that matter) proud. It is without a doubt, a must buy.

Dead Space 2 takes place nearly three years after the events of Dead Space on an enormous space station called the Sprawl. Isaac Clarke, the protagonist from the first game finds himself on the Sprawl but his traumatic experience aboard the Ishimura has messed him up for good. His memory is failing him and he’s constantly haunted by the images of the girlfriend he failed to save. This overpowering guilt, mixed with trauma gives way to a severe case of dementia where Isaac has trouble differentiating fiction from reality. As if seeing random flashes of his dead chick wasn’t bad enough, another Necromorph infestation breaks out on the Sprawl leaving Isaac to fight for survival and figure out why his luck sucks this bad.

Should have packed my parachute

Should have packed my parachute

Since the action has now shifted out of the Ishimura, players are treated to tons of environmental variety that was lacking in the first game. You see Dead Space largely took place aboard a derelict ship so players were subjected to a lot of metallic corridors, labs and – more corridors. Without spoiling anything for you, I’d say that problem has been taken care of as Dead Space 2 will have players exploring some truly diverse and messed up levels. Don’t let the word “explore” throw you off; you’ll still have to move from Point A to B killing anything and everything that crosses your path. However exploration is encouraged as breaking away from the pre-defined path will allow players to come across money, ammo and audio logs that provide a certain amount of backdrop to the story.

Gameplay in Dead Space 2 is pretty much the same as its predecessor. Played from a third person, over the shoulder perspective, Isaac must slowly navigate dark or dimly lit areas and kill… well, everything. A lot of the game’s tense atmosphere stems from the fact that Isaac controls like a tank as opposed to a feeble ninja. Slowing down players' movements like this definitely ups the dread factor significantly. Newer gameplay mechanics such as the ability to navigate and fight in space have also been introduced. In addition to this, Isaac now lives up to his moniker of Engineer and will have to fix and hack a lot more stuff than he did in the first game.

Space-d Out

Space-d Out

Thanks to this engineering background, Isaac can also use the tools of his trade like plasma cutters, line guns etc. to inflict some serious pain. Expanding on his arsenal from the previous games are a bunch of new weapons, all of which pack a mean punch. Special mention goes out to the Javelin Gun that allowed me to impale Necromorphs across walls and ceilings.

Spread out across the Sprawl are tons of upgrade stations where players can improve several attributes of their weapons like capacity, damage, reload speed etc. Killing enemies, stomping on random crates and looking around will grant Isaac currency that he can use to pick up newer weapons, health packs and better suits. Weapons, unfortunately, can only be upgraded via power nodes that have to be found or bought.

Yup, I hate kids allright

Yup, I hate kids allright

EA’s head honcho, John Riccitiello has proclaimed his love for multiplayer and keeping his wish (and their jobs) in mind, Visceral have introduced competitive play into the world of Dead Space. I would have been miffed if Visceral had compromised on the single player campaign to work on the game’s MP, but thankfully it isn’t so. Multiplayer in Dead Space 2 pits humans against Necromorphs in a series of objective based maps. The soldiers wield a bunch of weapons from the campaign while the Necromorphs have to be content with projectile attacks (vomiting, spitting etc) and/or up close and personal melee attacks.

It may seem relatively simple at first, but it does require a certain amount of strategy and skill to succeed – especially while playing as the aliens. Racking up kills and generally playing well will level players up allowing them to unlock newer armor and weapons. MP in Dead Space 2 may have been done better in Left 4 Dead already and it’s certainly no Call of Duty or Battlefield, for that matter, but it is entertaining nevertheless.

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

Visually, Dead Space 2 is stunning. It's still a very dark game but you can make out Visceral upped the visuals significantly. Blood and gore are still a very integral part of this franchise and this game features more blood and guts than pretty much anything in recent times. Voice acting is actually pretty nice and Isaac has been given a lot more personality this time around. He’s no longer a mute and expresses fear, anguish and rage like a normal person would. Well as normal as a person thrust in the midst of un-dead, reanimating aliens would.

Dead Space 2 is not for everyone. It’s unrelenting, violent, incredibly gory and downright creepy. It does a bang up job of completely immersing players in its twisted world, grabbing them by the family jewels while pummeling them with non-stop thrills. And just when you think your fragile little mind can take no more, the game hands you some serious firepower and encourages you to go completely medieval on your enemies.

No I will not kiss ya

No I will not kiss ya

Besides the rather hefty 12 hour single player campaign, it also ships with an interesting and enjoyable multiplayer mechanic that increases its life significantly. If competitive gaming is not your thing, you can always head back to replay the campaign once again, with all the weapons and armor you unlocked in your first play through. Whichever way you look at it, Dead Space 2 is a solid game that provides ample bang for your buck.

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