It’s not often that a video game played with a controller can be physically exhausting, but it seems that the crew at Visceral Games has made it their mission to bring that level of intense game play to consoles, and that they’ve succeeded. Say hello to the best survival/horror game to date.Dead Space 2 is home to the most white-knuckle, scream-like-your-little-sister moments in this generation of gaming, and possibly ever. It’s a game you have to play in small doses because, as I mentioned before, it’s incredibly tiring. After only five or ten minutes of play, you may find yourself wanting to stop for a while, let in some sunlight, and play some Disney music.
I don’t want to give anything about the story away for newcomers, but protagonist Isaac Clark’s wavering sanity is the driving point of the plot. As early as the opening cinematic, you’ll be able to see why his sanity is in question.
The atmosphere of this game is much varied from that of the first. You used to be confined to the cut-and-paste, bleak corridor designs of the Ishimura; now you are on The Sprawl, an occupied space station, which keeps the levels dynamic. You never know where exactly the next corner is, what’s waiting around it, or whether there’s anything at all. The developers did a fantastic job never giving you a sense of security.
New to the franchise is online multiplayer, which adds much-needed replay ability to an otherwise terrifying, exhausting, once-and-done experience. It’s not nearly as tense as the story mode, but it still does a great job of keeping the player feeling uneasy. The game splits up the players into two teams; the humans have to complete an objective within a given time, and the Necromorphs have to effectively ruin their day. This can feel a bit unbalanced in favaor of the aliens at times, but there’s a great sense of accomplishment when a human team coordinates their efforts to win a round. There’s not a moment in gaming more satisfying than plowing through alien opponents and being the catalyst for victory in a Dead Space objective game.
If you’re looking for an extremely well-constructed scare-fest, buy Dead Space 2. If that sounds fun but you haven’t played the first, buy both of them. You won’t regret it, but you may end up with far more ammunition for your nightmares.