PlayBack: Dead Space 2

Just a few months back we sat down to dissect Dead Space, arguably one of the best horror games to launch on PS3 and Xbox 360. In short, it was a breath of fresh air, not to mention a much-needed revival of the stalling horror genre at that time. Yet, Dead Space 2 came as somewhat of a surprise to many of us. Even though Visceral’s original sold well and manage to garner a solid following, EA’s announcement of a sequel came out of the blue.

That’s not to say we weren’t excited. The prospect of continuing Isaac’s crusade against the Necromoprh horde was tantalising, as was the game’s debut trailer. Taking place immediately after the events of Dead Space, the series’ once-silent protagonist had found his voice as well as finding himself in the confines of sci-fi mental asylum.

Queue a smidgen of eerie foreshadowing and, bam, things reverted to normal and it wasn’t long before players found themselves tearing apart wave after wave of space zombies.

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Worst Bit

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This is perhaps my biggest gripe with Dead Space 2. Though there were plenty of new toys to mess around with, it just felt too similar. “Duh,” you’re probably thinking to yourself, “it is a sequel, after all.”

While that may be true, the likeness between both games was a bit on the nose, right down to narrative structure. The sluggish pacing also carried over with players moving from one specifically-themed part of the space station to the next, just as in the original.

Though still a solid survival horror title, Dead Space 2 also lacked a sense of surprise. There was just something so refreshing when first trawling the Ishimura back in 2008 that really stuck with me and though much bigger and more detailed, Isaac’s romp through the sprawl just didn’t have the same effect. By and large, the sequel felt like a reskin and one EA was all too eager to rush straight into.

The publisher did exactly the same thing with last year’s Dead Space 3 (currently available on PlayStation Plus). Where the series could have done with a hiatus, EA wanted to round off the trilogy instead, something which didn’t go too well for them. The snowbound sequel picked up average scores across the board and was lampooned by fans for its lean towards action heavy gameplay and, of course, those micro-transactions…


Best Bit

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Fatigue doesn’t affect everyone, however, and there will surely be those who uphold Dead Space 2 as a masterpiece. The game may have carried over the same template, but it’s a strong one nonetheless. Visceral’s blend of exploration, combat, and puzzles served up plenty of variety, with a slew of custom upgrades to tweak player performance.

It’s still a deep, intuitive web of mechanics and one that is bolstered by Dead Space 2’s peerless sense of atmosphere. Though there are plenty of jump scares scattered throughout, the sequel also began to probe into the haunted mind of Isaac while fleshing out a backstory for the church of Unitology.

Dead Space 2 also looked rather stunning back in the day and still holds up nicely. There’s plenty of clever lighting at play with darkness often used to signify impending danger. Audio also came to forefront once again and it was used to paint a clearer image of the Sprawl than the game’s visuals alone could manage.


For Visceral Games, lightning didn’t strike twice. As a sequel, Dead Space 2 didn’t hit the highs of the first game, though that isn’t to say it isn’t worth playing. For those who want to explore the Dead Space universe further, it’s an ideal extension to the first game with arguably just enough nuance to keep you strapped in for its 8-10 hour duration.

Though not ideal, it could also be a decent entry point for newcomers. Though you won’t understand a number of references, encountering the Necromorphs for the first time is still a sublime video game experience.

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7 Comments

  1. The bits of Dead Space 2 that really stick in my mind are the Nicole moments: there are some great jump scares when she suddenly pops up and starts throttling Isaac.
    Also, I thought the ending worked well. There’s a nice little funny nod to the original’s ending which made me smile.

  2. Great read. Best horror series of last gen. With the first game being the best. The trilogy slowly got less impressive and frightening, however it was a given with the first outing being so good.

    Hope it’s revived a la Dead Space 1 on PS4 with the Virtual Headset. Do this and poo will definitely come out.

  3. It certainly had one of the truly most challenging & rewarding trophies to obtain. (If that’s your thing)
    I understand every argument about it not being as good as the original but hey, i absolutely loved it.

  4. It felt to me like they had honed a lot of the stuff from the first game, in one way improving the experience but at the same time completely changng the tone from the first game. More like an action adventure game than the survival horror of the first game. But once i got used to that, i thoroughly enjoyed DS2.
    That ending sure was messed up though – and it took me a good few attempts before i managed to complete it so i had to witness it an unpleasant number of times. :s

  5. I actually preferred Dead Space 2 to the first. I liked the fact Clarke had a voice, and the Nicole moments properly freaked me out. Although the best section was returning to the Ishumura (or however it’s spelled). I bought Dead Space 3 ages ago when it was a sale and have only played the first hour, and it feels completely different (in a bad way). I’ll return to it eventually though!

    • Same here mate, although the 1st game was amazing I enjoyed this with it’s bigger set pieces and varied environments that bit more. Best in the series for me.

  6. After absolutely loving the 1st, I got stuck a couple of hours into 2 and gave up. My own fault because I decided to start my 1st playthrough on zealot setting. Lesson learned, I will go back and start again on an easier setting when I have time. Dead space 3 is still in the wrapping in my backlog.

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