I'm not sure what other Dead Space 2 reviews are saying (actually I'm purposely avoiding them so as not to taint this review) but word has it, especially among viewers on my Youtube gaming channel, that Dead Space 2 is simply not as scary as the original. Now whether these are genuine opinions or just thinly veiled showboatings peppered with a dash of peer pressure, as in..
"That didn't scare me!"
"Yeah me neither!"
...I'll never know.
But I ain't afraid to admit it.
Dead Space 2 scared the doo-doo out of me.
Compared to the original smash hit video game, Dead Space 2 is darker, more sinister and definitely opens up a bigger can of whoop-ass on the player. Like the original, we're once again over-the-shoulder running the gauntlet with our hapless engineer, Isaac Clarke, lapping up all that is good and Dead Space including alien monstrosities known as necromorphs, an arsenal of makeshift weapons and, of course, eleventy bazillion buckets of blood and gore.
This time around Isaac is trapped on a colossal space station/colony/big place in space called the Sprawl and must engage in a 15 chapter heavyweight fight with the bad guys while trying to avoid becoming a mere statistic on account of his being patient #4 in some kind of wacky megalomaniac experiment involving an alien obelisk known as 'The Marker'. And of course the experiment has gone awry, horribly awry (geez, who'da thunk it?) and there are aliens everywhere and they're all having a bad hair day and well, if you were Hans Tiedemann, the director of the complex, you'd probably do the same as he did. Yep, that's right.. let's just declare martial law and wipe out all traces of this mess ever existing including all the live test subjects and uh oh... uhhhhh..... RUN, ISAAC, RUN!!!
So now Isaac is running through a trashed space colony getting sucker punched every step of the way by alien hit squads which will frequently lock him down in close combat and attempt to sloppily butcher him into little itty bits and then dine on his scattered remains. Oh yeah and just for sh!ts and giggles, the whole party starts off with Isaac bound in a strait jacket. Yep. I kid you not. Bound in a strait jacket. And that's not just a cutscene. That's the way the game starts when the player takes control. (Insert diabolical laughter.) Oh yeah and as if he isn't busy enough, Isaac is also tasked with occasionally fending off hallucinations of his probably-kinda-sorta dead girlfriend, Nicole Brennan.
Sooooo.... How the heck do you survive this mayhem?
With a trusty collection of upgradable weapons, of course. Well okay, they're really mining tools that are better suited to simply chopping stuff up but they'll do nicely. But wait... In classic survival horror style, ammo in this game is scarce or rather not plentiful enough that you can afford to just blast away at the alien hordes with reckless abandon. Instead, you're advised to play it smart and "cut off their limbs" which saves on ammo but then amps up the fear factor because if you don't do it right and finish the job, the bad guys will continue to creepy crawly towards you.. (Legs? We don't need no stinkin' legs!)
Heading up the spotlight in this hackfest is the two-way chopping Plasma Cutter (don't leave home without it) which is back for an encore from the first game as well as the Line Gun and its devastating alt-firing timed mine. Other carryovers from Dead Space 1 include the Force Gun (read: shotgun), the Contact Beam (read: sniper rifle), the Ripper (read: well, The Ripper) as well as the Pulse Rifle (yes!) and the Flamethrower (yawn).
New arrivals include the Javelin Gun which you can use to skewer the bad guy with a spear and if that doesn't inspire the impaled ingrate to mend his ways then you can always use the alt-fire mode to administer some shock therapy. Visually spectacular yes, but in my humble opinion, the Javelin Gun needs a little spit shine at the upgrade Bench before it's really worthy of wasting a weapon slot on.
On the other hand is the Detonator Gun, a new Dead Space 2 weapon worth its salt out-of-the-box and which has a primary fire that serves a dual purpose. After firing, if the detonator mine contacts the enemy directly, it explodes. If it hits the ground instead, it deploys a laser-beamed booby trap which consists of a little bomb equipped with laser beam sensors shooting straight up. When an enemy runs through the laser sensors, the trap explodes and usually results in an instant kill. This is very useful in areas where you're getting tag-teamed by an alien mob and you want to even the odds by laying a bunch of these in a perimeter around you. On top of which the alt-fire mode can be used to de-activate unused traps at which point the detonator mine can be retrieved and put back into your inventory.