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TSA’s Top 100 of 2011 – #5 Dead Space 2

Dead Harder.

Proving that all those endless sequels have to start somewhere, EA released Dead Space back in October of 2008 to critical and commercial acclaim. Modifying the relatively static survival horror genre, developer Visceral Games decided to place its taciturn protagonist on a waylaid ship, the mining vessel Ishimura, along with a handful of NPCs in a quest to find out why the planet-cracking craft was no longer responding to any attempts at communication.

In terms of setting, it’s hardly original. Immediately we think of Event Horizon, Alien(s), even Danny Boyle’s exceptional Sunshine (2007), all celluloid renditions that share elements of marrying the unknown of dead space with common fears such as claustrophobia, intense isolation and paranoia. Dead Space was designed to toy with these phobias, the game guilty on more than a few occasions of playing the “something jumping through a wall/ceiling” card to incite untold terror in its players. It worked, the game a truly well-honed exercise in pant evisceration. It had its flaws, though, shortcomings that, from looking at footage of its upcoming – and inevitable – sequel, appear to have been remedied.

For a start, Isaac is no longer mute. A massive faux pas in the first game, if anything because there is no logical reason why the oft called upon engineer is speechless whenever anyone addresses him, we can see where the designers were going with the decision. In theory, by giving Isaac a voice, the player becomes slightly disconnected from him; the feeling that these horrible scenes discovered on the stricken Ishimura are not necessarily happening to you but to someone you’re merely directing through the viscera. A noble endeavour perhaps but one that falls flat on its bucket-headed face. Isaac merely comes across as doltish, a puppet called upon to fix every bloody part of the ship while the other loquacious, smarter members of the CEC order him around. Just once you wanted Issac to chime back: “Eh, no, Daniels, you go traipsing around outside the ship and deal with all the tentacles flying about the place. I’m looking for whatever is the equivalent to Ten-forward on this rust-bucket and getting suitably hammered before the inevitable spilling of my guts.” In Dead Space 2 Isaac has not only grown in experience since his first encounter with the Necromorphs but also in terms of gaining a personality. He will speak, words spilling out of a mouth we’ll actually get to see more of this time.

Other issues in the first game included a slippery map system (thankfully the pulsing way-point device was more than sufficient) and an overly-convoluted, barely explained plot about the Church of Unitology and some religious voodoo goings on after a certain alien artefact is discovered on the surface of the planet. It was wafer-thin but we hardly cared. You got to slice, dice, liquidate, dismember and practically blend the now unrecognisible and unfortunate Ishimura crew as they leaped toward you at every opportunity.

Dead Space 2 sees Isaac leave the frigid expanse of deep space and take up on a space station known as The Sprawl. The psychosis affecting the intrepid handyman caused by exposure to the Marker (the aforementioned alien artefact), an affliction hinted at the end of the first game, is expanded upon in the sequel, with Issac witnessing first-hand the terrifying transmogrifying infestation of the Necromorphic scourge in its early stages upon the station.

Probably the biggest addition to Dead Space 2 is the talking-point of multiplayer in the game. From our (limited) exposure to the add-on it looks like the online mode works and will provide a small respite from the harrowing psychic onslaught of the offline single-player campaign, which, let’s face it, is why we’re here. We’re not saying Dead Space 2’s online offering is surplus to requirements but, if anything, it will likely be a mere hors d’oeuvre to the main course of dismemberments and decapitations.

The PS3 version will also have Dead Space Extraction, an on-rails Move version of the Wii game of the same name. And at no extra charge. We can’t complain with that.

One of the biggest concerns we have about Dead Space 2 is the fact that some of the team at Visceral who made the first game are no longer with the studio having moved over to Sledgehammer to make a Call of Duty FPS for Activision. Sure, the obvious names are ex-studio heads Schofield and Condrey, but other members of the original team also defected. Of course, just because the guys who came up with Dead Space’s concept and created a great game are not involved with its sequel doesn’t mean Dead Space 2 won’t be awesome. In fact, based on the recently available demo and the production values over at EA we’re of the opinion that Dead Space 2 could be one of the scariest, most intense and mind-destroying games of 2011. If it’s half as good as the first game was, we’ll be happy.

  1. MadJunkBoy
    Since: Aug 2010

    OMFG!!!! top 5 aint bad=) cant wait for this game… its going to be epic!!!!!

    Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 20:14.
  2. Aroxi
    Since: Mar 2010

    Seriously confused as to what could be in the top three now ;o

    Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 20:17.
    • ericzap
      Since: Apr 2010

      Dragon Age 2
      Mass Effect 3
      Those are my locks. Maybe Skyward Sword, The Old Republic, This is tricky.

      Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 20:42.
      • Kovacs
        Since: Dec 2009

        All of the quoted games (bar Mass Effect 3) have already featured on this list.

        Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 20:44.
      • ericzap
        Since: Apr 2010

        I am dumb. I didn’t remember seeing DA2 but there we are. So I am genuinely stumped.

        Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 20:59.
    • Boomshanks
      Since: Dec 2008

      The Last Guardian is the safest bet, but I can also see Uncharted 3 in the top 3 personally

      Comment posted on 28/12/2010 at 10:32.
  3. tonycawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    After playing the demo, this is now my number 1 most anticipated game of next year. Brought back great memories of the 1st. Evokes true emotion and fear, something no other game has ever done for me. Only game i can now say i’m actually excited about, ever. I enjoy games, but i don’t get excited about them, normally.

    Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 20:40.
  4. Jumping Monks
    Since: Jan 2009

    I am looking nervously forward to this game a hell of a lot. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 20:45.
  5. ProjectJAY
    Since: Aug 2009

    I for one was extremely disappointed by the demo. It was one samey room after another, nothing I hadn’t seen in the first game, and something about Isaac’s voice bugged me. I will reserve judgement until I play the final game though :)

    Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 20:52.
  6. supernova
    Since: Dec 2010

    The final four, in no particular order, must be…
    Mass Effect 3
    Uncharted 3
    The Last Guardian

    Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 21:04.
    • icuyesido
      Since: Jan 2010

      Yeah, that seems to be a good shout…

      Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 21:27.
    • ericzap
      Since: Apr 2010

      Hehe did you make an account just to write that?

      Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 21:47.
    • cc_star
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Forever

      Cooking Mama 3, Hasbro Family Party Games 4 and of course Just Dance 3, they’re still to feature so must be in the top 3.

      All that remains to be seen is the order they appear in ;)

      Comment posted on 28/12/2010 at 13:18.
  7. rht992
    Since: Apr 2009

    so glad extractions coming to it. one of the better games on the wii. i still need to play the demo though :/ i’ll be reunited with my ps3 tomorrow night and after playing this will probably be shaking in terro and refusing to even turn it on again

    Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 21:33.
  8. Charmed_Fanatic
    Since: Aug 2009

    downloading the demo as we speak

    Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 21:49.
    • MadJunkBoy
      Since: Aug 2010

      u wont get disappointed=)

      Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 23:36.
  9. Rocket_345
    Since: May 2010

    Absolutely loved the demo and I was extremely dissapointed when it ended. I cannot wait for this game and will defo be a day one purchase for me

    Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 23:28.
    • MadJunkBoy
      Since: Aug 2010

      i second that

      Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 23:37.
  10. Kennykazey
    Since: Mar 2010

    I dunno, never really liked Dead Space. My top 5 for next year are: 5. Mass Effect 2 (PS3), 4. InFamous 2, 3. Killzone 3, 2. Uncharted 3, 1. Gran Turismo 6.

    Comment posted on 27/12/2010 at 23:41.
    • bunimomike
      Since: Jul 2009

      GT6? hahahahahahahah!!! *wipes tears of laughter away*

      Comment posted on 28/12/2010 at 00:28.