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"Dead Space 2" The saga continues

Started by Kaldrak, May 31, 2016, 10:30:47 PM

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Oh no.


Not this again.

Make us whole.

NO. No making anything whole! Nothing good has ever come out of that sentiment in this series. NOTHING.

Oh, it's just you. It's good to see you again and it's time for another entry in the critically acclaimed Dead Space series. And that means more spooky whispering from the shadows in the dark spaces and another super creepy rendition of a popular children's song.


Some pretty hefty plot spoilers for the first game follow, as it's kind of impossible to discuss the story of Dead Space 2 without going into exactly what went wrong during the first time around. You've been warned.

When last we left Isaac, he was listening to a hallucination of his dead girlfriend, Nicole, who urged him to give the crazy Marker artifact back to the Hive Mind. He did so, but was betrayed by the only other person to survive all of this mess, right before she was messily slain by said Hive Mind. She had apparently released the gravity tethers on the Ishimura holding the planet's core up in the atmosphere, so Isaac defeats the Hive Mind in heroic single combat and barely escapes the smashing impact of the planet's core as it descends directly on top of what's left of the colony and the Marker.

Whelp, that's one horrible, insanity causing alien artifact destroyed. Now it's time for Isaac to take off his exterminator robo helmet with the glowing eye slits, sit down in his escape shuttle, relax and—oh, hey it looks like he's not alone in his ship. I wonder who this could be with the horrible glowing eyes?

Oh, hi Nicole. I thought you were, re-dead as it were. No? Just me?

Alright, crazy it is then.

In the words of a particularly well respected individual, "I've had a perfectly good evening, but this wasn't it."

And that's how the first game ended.

I can only assume someone picked up Isaac's shuttle and found him curled in a fetal position somewhere, rocking back and forth and either babbling incoherently or still unable to say anything.
Either way, the second game starts up with Isaac in a straightjacket, being interviewed by a nice man in a white lab coat on the other side of the desk with the big lamp he keeps shining in my eyes.

Oh and there's Nicole, climbing over the desk and screaming in our face.

Good times, good times.

The nice man wants Isaac to remember the events in the first game, which he hallucinates happening in midair between the two of them. It's kind of a cool way to do a recap, but I do wish Nicole wasn't hanging around.

It's really kind of over between us, baby. You're way too clingy.

Oh and not to be uh...mean about this or anything, but why the drastic overhaul on Nicole's character model? She was pretty darn cute in the first game and now...not so much. I mean, beyond the glowing red eyes and super wide screaming ghost mouth and psycho disposition and all. They even redid the iconic message from the first game that Isaac watched like fifty times on his trip to the Ishimura in the first place with the new model, plus a flashback scene that adds some context to their relationship.

I suppose with the transition from girlfriend to psycho ex/ghost/crazy hallucination she lost a few points of charisma. I think this was probably intentional. You tried to save Nicole in the first game (not knowing she was already dead) and even interacted with her during a few scenes. She was a literal manifestation of the Hive Mind, manipulating Isaac into returning the Marker to it. It was only when Isaac was betrayed and the Marker taken again that it attacked him. In short, even when there were signs that she prooobably wasn't actually Nicole, you still wanted her around, because she was helping you.

Now she's actively trying to harm you, preying on Isaac's guilt about Nicole and the Ishimura and surviving everything the first time around. So of course we can't have her look all sweet and innocent. Wouldn't fit the bill at all.

Anyway, the nice man in the lab coat keeps urging Isaac to remember what happened and we receive another shocking revelation.

Isaac can talk.

Wait, what?

I could've sworn the man was mute! He never said a single word in the first game, even in the numerous life or death situations that happened with the other survivors. Nobody who interacts with him treats this as abnormal though, so maybe he just really didn't like any of them and refused to talk to them at all.

That's like, super passive aggressive Isaac. I think you need counseling. Probably not here though. I don't really care much for the décor and the attitude of the staff is particularly off-putting.

There is a thing called selective mutism. Maybe that was it, but whatever the case, he sure doesn't seem all that reluctant to talk now. Plus we get to see his face during the cutscenes as his helmet sort of dismantles itself. These measures are pretty effective at humanizing Isaac, even though his personality isn't anything too complex. There's not much time to develop him, honestly, between all the monsters and insanity and Unitologists and whatnot.

I have to say I wasn't all that impressed with the pacing in the beginning of the game. It seems like we're barely sitting down for a friendly chat/interrogation when we're sent back to our cell and then some kind of...freedom fighter dude breaks in. There are bad bad things happening offscreen, but don't worry, you'll get to see them in just a second.

In about five or six seconds, in fact.

Our would be rescuer is killed and exploded from behind by those gosh darn Necromorphs before you can say ohgodthisismessedup and it's time to run away screaming once more. Don't worry though, Isaac's still in a straightjacket, so you have literally no chance to fight them. You must run! Or stagger. Stagger as fast as you can Isaac! No, don't go that way...ooooh that looked nasty.

Okay, let's try that scene again.

I wasn't pleased to be caught completely defenseless by multiple Necromorphs hell bent on dismembering everyone in the patient wing of the asylum. As they rip the others to pieces, a few of them chase after you and it's possible to either be too slow, because you start injured, or just charge off in the wrong direction and get messily disposed of.

This is no way to gradually build suspense. This is chucking the player headfirst into the action and going, RAAHRGRAAAH ME KILLL YOUUUU!!

Bit of a gamble, but it works for other games. Maybe we'll get back to the slower paced survival horror afterwards.

I managed to limp, bleeding and unhappy, away from the awful carnage going on behind me and straight into an area where there were no apparent enemies, but there is a familiar figure up ahead...ah, it's the friendly man in the white lab coat. Surely he will help us.

Wait, what are you doing with that scalpel? No...stay away...don'tdon'tdon't—!


He was only cutting Isaac's arm bindings. Nice use of the camera angles. You really had me going for a minute there, guys. What, there's a health item behind me? Why thank you very much. You really are a nice guy. Such a smiling, friendly doctor. Why I could just...oh.
Saving the scalpel for yourself, I see.


I think I'm going to have to check myself out of this place. No, no, don't get up Dr. Friendly, I can find the way.

The next bit is one of the more enjoyable parts of the game for me. You have no armor, you only have Isaac's kinesis module and these sharpened stake things for weaponry, and eventually you get the plasma cutter in a truly horrifying sequence involving a patient on a medical gurney...mid surgery. Suffice it to say the doctors are gone and he's awake and very much not happy. A helpful Necromorph tends to him while you frantically hack your way into the machine and retrieve the plasma cutter.

And then...and then I found the first store.

I have to take a break from the narrative here and bring up the DLC issue with EA. I don't want to, but in order to explain my experience in my first playthrough, I need to go into it.
So...I had no idea why, but when I gained access to the first of the in-game stores, I suddenly had access to every weapon in the game. For free. And they were modified versions with stat bonuses. Also, there were several armor variants with bonuses as well.

I stopped and looked at it and went, "What the hell?"

To go from desperate, poorly armed, in a straightjacket and injured, to bristling with armaments and wearing sleek, awesome armor, was more than a little game breaking, to say nothing of tanking the immersion factor by letting Isaac win the arms race ten minutes in on my first playthrough. Although I suppose it might make a little bit of sense if you look at it as if there were some big red EMERGENCY button on the store that you could hit if the place was under attack. It would make this happy little 'ding' noise and then release all the weapons free of charge for you to use for self defense.

I didn't see one of those, however, so that explanation doesn't fly.

Needless to say, I immediately chucked my wimpy plasma cutter in storage and outfitted myself with all the new goodies and some old favorites. I even had a few credits with which to buy ammo, which was the main problem for me at that point. Oh so many weapons, but no ammunition. Fortunately, like the first game, DS2 drops ammo only for the weapons you carry, whether it's wimpy plasma cutter ammo or awesome seeker rifle ammo you shouldn't be able to get until later. This allowed me to focus all of my remaining time in the game to retooling my weapons and armor and pouring all of my resources into making Isaac the most well armed and armored person on the space station.

Good times.

Way too easy for the normal difficulty though. I should've started on hard, but who knew that was going to happen?

I mean, EA, just giving away paid microtransaction content for free? Wow that's almost nice of them. Oh but they compensated for it by forcing PS3 users to pay for the same content and screwing us over by never releasing the DLC campaign on PC.

Ah, that's more like it.

Fuck you too, EA.

Fuck you too.

Why should I have to buy two or three different versions of a game just to get the 'complete' experience? I know corporations are essentially money grubbing, soulless entities who look at me and everybody else as wallets with legs, but this shit just pisses me off.

Anyway, it's the job of reviewers to hold them accountable when they do stuff like this...and it seems to be the job of fans to ignore us and keep rewarding bad behavior anyway. Heck, I understand. I'm still buying these things. I grumble a lot and then just roll over and take it, because we can't really force them to change the way they do things.

I mean, what do you want, for our corporate overlords to not subjugate us?

Not gonna happen.

This is one of the reasons I love the indie game scene so much. You deal with different bullshit of course, but at least you don't deal with this kind of bullshit.

Well, not usually.

My horrible anti business attitude aside, I really do enjoy Dead Space 2. It's sleeker, smoother, and better than the original Dead Space in almost every way. With the exception of horror, that is. The game is much less scary than the first one, though there are some really creepy moments midway through.

There was this nursery and...y'know what? Don't ask.


Gameplay and combat are significantly improved over the first game. Aiming is much easier and more intuitive and now that Isaac has ditched that heavy, clunky old mining suit, he can run around much faster, which he'll need to, as there are a variety of nasty new enemies who attempt to slice and dice him to bits. To combat these horrible, ghastly new foes, Isaac has a large arsenal of weaponry available to him. No, not just repurposed mining tools and the occasional gun this time, I mean actual weapons.

My favorite is the seeker rifle. It's basically just a long range gun that you can zoom in on stuff with, but it works so well and packs such a nice punch that it's pretty much my go to weapon for almost any situation...except when things get too close and I'm scoped in on something. That kind of sucks.

Also added to the game is a rockin awesome laser mine throwing gun. This, this thing is fantastic. You can deploy up to ten of these explosive mines that detonate when you or anything else walks through the blue lasers that deploy from the front of them. It usually doesn't take more than one mine to incapacitate/kill most normal enemies and they stick to anything, so...remember the vents? Remember how our Necromorphy friends are always attacking us from said vents? Now you can look around and go, "Yep, this looks like an ambush. Think I'll just mine the crap out of everywhere and then cross the room."

At that point, all you have to do is sit back and listen to the fireworks...or get horribly killed and/or injured due to improper mine placement...and it is glorious.

Oh and you don't have to worry about wasting ammo, as you can use the alternate fire to deactivate your mines and pick them back up.

Glee and jubilation! I am so happy with this gun.

There's also some old classics from the first game like the levitating buzz saw gun and of course the combat rifle and flamethrower, though now the flamethrower works in areas with no oxygen, which is kind of disappointing.

But what of the armored suits?

Well, I'm glad you asked. Isaac now has, right at your fingertips, a wonderful selection of sleek, shiny new combat/space suits available for use. I don't know if I mentioned it in my first review, but people in the future have like, the most terrifying way of changing clothes ever. Isaac steps into this pod o' doom looking thing, which seals him inside and light buzzes down the middle of the pod. Then presto chango, he comes out wearing something else.

The future is neato, kids! Also quite frightening. And doomed, but first, clothes!

Many of these new suits have different combat bonuses, but I just love the designs. These things are so cool looking. They make that rusty old mining suit we clunked around in in the first game look positively lame by comparison. And I don't ever really say this about male characters, but Isaac can really work these suits. I mean yowza. Some of these things are like, super tight.

What? I only said what we were all thinking. Gimme a break here.

Anyway, these things are awesome and they come with some significant advantages over the ones he wore in the first game. The most noticeable one is the movement jets you use to control yourself in the zero gravity areas. Isaac can now do an Iron Man impersonation as well, cause he's got boost jets in his hands, however the hell that nonsense works. My point is that you can fly around in space, which is just freaking cool and you can even fight enemies while flying upside down...or maybe they're the ones who are upside down or...urgh. Look it's all relative and somewhat disorienting, but also majorly cool.

Just don't run out of air looking at the scenery.

Speaking of air, someone somewhere decided that only having forty-five seconds worth of emergency oxygen in their space suits was kind of a really stupid idea, so you start DS2 with almost five minutes worth, if I remember correctly. Woot! No more dying from lack of air unless I act really stupid. Waaaaiit a minute. That means there won't be any more super tense sequences where the life support fails and I have to run around with no oxygen frantically looking for the way out or more air. I mean, they could do that, but I have loads of time now. Not nearly as tense.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, pretty much sums up the entire game. It's just not nearly as tense as the first one. Isaac's crazy hallucinations where Nicole tries to kill him and awful visions of the undead screaming and howling at him in certain areas notwithstanding, this game just doesn't have as frightening an atmosphere as the first one.

Part of the reason is the change in location.  The first game took place almost entirely on the Ishimura, which was fantastically creepy and claustrophobic. DS2, by contrast, takes place on a large space station called the Sprawl. Isaac is also right in the middle of a giant Necromorph outbreak. The things are swarming everywhere, killing anyone they can find, which is exciting, don't get me wrong, but it does mean that there are a lot more people around, even if most of them are dying. With more people there is less solitude and creepy tension on the player. Plus Isaac gets a partner in his exploits. Somewhat early on, he meets a lady named Ellie, who is fighting off a mob of Necromorphs with a plasma cutter. She does not want Isaac's help. In fact, she wants him to stay away from her because she figures he'll get her killed, which isn't what happens, but it's close.

Ellie is tough and fierce, apparently surviving a trek through the Sprawl in the opposite direction Isaac is going, as she is very unhappy about being forced to go back. Her entire team was killed and she was the only survivor. She helps Isaac through a few different areas and though I kept expecting her to get gacked, she somehow made it through to the end of the game with me...and even ends up saving Isaac's life after he attempts to send her away to safety.

Isaac's other companion is a fellow inmate from the asylum named Stross, where they were both apparently designing and making Markers for the government.

I'll let that sink in for a moment there.

These things can be made? Why in God's name would anyone ever do such a thing? I mean, I thought they just found the other one somewhere and...what's that you say? There's a giant one in the middle of the space station?

Well of course there is.

Isaac's nutty pal attempts to help him figure out some of his hallucinations and even gives him the key to destroying the Marker...right before he completely loses it and attempts to kill Ellie, stabbing out her eye in the process, which she is not happy about. "You owe me an eye!" she yells at Isaac at a later point, wearing an eye patch.

Hey look, it's Ellie the space pirate! Heheh...sure am glad I'm on this side of the unbreakable glass. Don't worry though, she gets revenge on him through drastically unsafe use of large mining equipment. I'm pretty sure she was driving like that on purpose. It was not a fun ride on top of that thing.

Anyway, Isaac ends up having to kill Stross when the guy tries to kill him as well. And after all of that escaping from the asylum together. There's gratitude for you.

So who's responsible for all of this madness? The Unitologists, right? I mean, it's always the...oooh, they all get killed off really early in the plot. Nice twist there.

So the irresponsible maniac who used Isaac to design and create a massive the administrator in charge of the space station. Why would you...unlimited energy? How about unlimited death? In what way was any of this a good idea? Didn't you learn anything at all from what happened on the Ishimura? I mean, you'd have to be some kind of total idiot not to....

Why is the Ishimura docked here at the Sprawl?

Why do I have to go back on it?


Back onboard the USG Ishimura we go. Surely this will end well.

I mean, what could possibly happen? All of the Necromorphs are back on the space station, not this ship. Now it's completely...totally...empty.

Good God, it's creepy being back on board.

It's arguably one of the best parts of the game, moving through the darkness and looking at what's left of the beleaguered efforts by the cleanup crew. Isaac is completely alone with his memories and steadily worsening hallucinations. The darkness whispers at him as he walks through the scenes of old battles and past violence.

Ah, I remember this place. What happened here was not good. Not good at all.

Whew! Finally the Necromorphs followed me onboard. Way to relieve some tension guys. The creepy atmosphere and isolation in here was really starting to get to me.

So Isaac uses the gravity tethers on the Ishimura to do some really unsafe maneuvering, resulting in the total destruction of the ship. Dang. There goes the USG Ishimura. I'll miss the hellish place....


Anyway, we face off against the evil administrator who caused all this mess and then go on to fight against Isaac's own remorse and guilt personified by this new Marker as a manifestation of Nicole. There are all kinds of crazy space shenanigans and a rather disappointing final boss battle, which wasn't quite what I expected, and then they blow the whole place up and Isaac and Ellie jet on out of there.

Another Marker added to Isaac's kill list. Just, ignore the fact that he apparently made that one. I mean, he was legally insane during that period, so you can't really hold him responsible.

Ah, happy endings, gotta love em. Oh, except for the thousands of people who died on the Sprawl of course...and I feel kind of bad siccing that huge mob of Necromorphs on all those soldiers trying to defend the military base.

Oh well.

All's well that ends well.

"Do what you want to do. Do what you like doing. Write the stories you want to see written and give other people the same courtesy. That is all that is important."


Awesome read, Kaldrak. Did you write this? It sucks that we might never get a new Dead Space game after the studio went down.
Make sure to check out cpap machines here and learn more about them.


Is this a real person?  That's gotten kind of rare.  Yeah, he wrote it.
Well, Goodbye.