The ‘survival horror’ genre in gaming has long been defined and therefore dominated by one franchise, and rightly so. Since 1997, the Resident Evil series has shocked, horrified and captivated gore loving thrill seekers across a number of different platforms. The combination of a deep involving plot, intense tactical combat and mind-bending puzzle sections made what fans affectionately termed ‘Resi’ a hit, time after time.
The series has of course spawned imitators – Silent Hill anyone? But nothing has really challenged Resi’s crown until now. In 2008 Dead Space came along, a 3rd person action-horror game that combined the helpless isolation of deep space with blood hungry beasts and a slew weaponry that could blast a hole in a barn door. The tense storyline complete with obligatory twists completed the picture and lead many to question if Resident Evil had met its match.
The second instalment of Dead Space confirms that the adventurers of Issac Clarke, a deep space engineer thrust into a world of religious cults, grotesque scientific experiments and deadly, mutated beings (Necromorphs) certainly holds its own against the original survival horror brand.
While Dead Space 2 doesn’t offer anything particularly revolutionary over its predecessor, it does deliver more of the same unbearably tense thrills that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. This time round Isaac must navigate a vast space station that was once inhabited by humans but now lays in ruins, destroyed by corporations carrying out medical experiments.
The setting is far more shall we say, familiar than the original which took place on a ship, locations are recognisable as Apartment blocks, Schools and Churches, albeit futuristic interpretations. This does not make the game anymore ’homely’, in fact witnessing infected infants crawl towards you in a School hall emitting a piercing scream is unsettling to say the least.
The weapons and upgrade system makes a return, old favourites like the Ripper, a powerful buzz saw are present alongside a few newcomers. The detonator emits proximity mines, useful for protecting yourself against hoards of enemies, while the Javelin gun fires metal bolts that pin Necromorphs to the wall where you can finish them off with a swipe of the fist, conserving ammo for later.
One welcome addition to Dead Space is an overhaul of the zero gravity sections. Now, by tapping the left stick Issac can use the thrusters on his suit to glide around freely in the environment , touching down where ever he pleases.
The fact that not much has changed in Dead Space is largely irrelevant, the format is still as fresh and chilling as it was back in late 2008, and the development of the gripping, unpredictable plot will be enough to tempt most fans back for a second helping. Dead Space 2 proves that the franchise can really it cut it with the best and in my opinion, beats Resident Evil at its own game.
A true masterpiece: 9/10
Joe is a gaming enthusiast working for a company that sell Ford Fiesta lease deals, he could do with the biggest and best people carrier to trasnport all his games from place to place! You can follow Joe on Twitter @joe__johnson__
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Dead Space 2 Review by Steve