Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2 Review

Kid Safe: Very Low                     Game Quality: Very High

Genre: Survival Horror
-          This game features a focus on horror themes and attempting to escape the terror that has overtaken the situation. This game may contain situations that are scary for some players and scenes of intense blood and gore.

Internet Requirements: Moderate
-          Dead Space 2, while having an extensive single-player story campaign, features an impressive internet-based multiplayer aspect where players can play online with other individuals. Likewise, additional content will be released for this title sometime later on that will be sold (and downloaded) through the internet.

Story Summary: In Dead Space 2, you step back into the boots of survivor and engineer, Isaac Clark,
who, after the events of the first game. Now, waking up from a coma on the massive space-station, The Sprawl, you find yourself once again fighting for your life. You must battle both your own developing insanity along with the undead monstrosities that are quickly devouring the Sprawl as you attempt discover the truth behind what happened both to you and the residents of the brutally overtaken space-station.

Kid Safe: Very Low
-          Foul Language: High
o   Dead Space 2 features an extensive amount of foul language, primarily in the words "F*ck", "*S*it", "Motherf*cker", and "D*mn". These words are regularly encountered throughout the entire game in general dialogue, in text-based articles and journals, and in cutscenes between characters. Players are able to trigger a stream of profanity by punching or stomping the ground, which results in the main-character spewing frustrated curse-words. The language is constant throughout gameplay.

-          Violence and Gore: Very High - Not Recommended for Children
o   Dead Space 2 is, by far, the goriest and most violent game that we have reviewed to date. This title features an extensive amount of both violent scenes as well as depictions of blood, gore and viscera. To begin, the creatures and monsters that players must fight are constructed from the bodies of those that have been killed by others. The very first scene of this game consists of a person waking Isaac from his coma, only to have a creature sneak up behind him and impale him through the chest and head; resulting in the man transforming into a mutilated beast that attempts to murder and devour the main player. Every monster is constructed of the mutilated remains of one or more dead human beings.

o   Not only this, but the primary way to kill the monsters, named "Necromorphs", consists of dismembering the creatures. Players are encourage to use different weaponry to blow off the arms, legs and heads of both monsters and corpses to keep them from reanimating and attacking them. Should the monster/corpse not be initially attacking them, players are encourage to stomp on dead bodies to remove limbs such as the arms, legs, and head.

o   There are multiple scenes in which non-player characters are attacked and murdered, main of which are ripped limb from limb. One disturbing scene in particular features a mother who calls over a "Necromorph" infant and cradles it before the infant explodes and sprays gore and viscera across the entire room. The game also features a creature that desecrates the corpses of fallen human beings to transform them into beastly monsters.
-          Sexually-Related Content: Low
o   Dead Space 2 features a low amount of sexual content. While the game has no focus on sexually related activities and does not feature any inherent nudity, this title does feature one creature of particular note. Known as the "Spitter", featured in both single-player and multi-player modes, the creature is the monstrous remains of human female who is seen holding and squeezing her breasts with her human hands while she attacks players with the spiked limbs protruding from her back.

-          Use of Drugs and Alcohol: Low
o   Dead Space 2 does not feature any known instances of drug or alcohol usage. However, the game does make reference to individuals using medication overdose in order to take their own lives.

Game Quality: Very High
-          Graphics / Visuals: Very High
o   Dead Space 2 features an exceptionally high quality of graphics and visuals. First, to start with the positives, everything in the design of the game feels fully realized. As you walk, explore, fight, and occasionally break through the massive space-station that is The Sprawl, you find that the world around you is fully realized. You find yourself walking through a variety of districts, the majority of which that has been hand-picked and designed to provide the feeling that you are, in fact, walking through a space-station several generations old. Each level reveals decimated apartments and living quarters, shopping districts, engine and science labs, and even elementary schools. Each chapter of the story reveals more and more destruction across an entire city in space.

o   Not even this, but the graphical design for every level and structure is physically impressive to look at; even by today's standards. Almost every structure and creature appears realistically in front of you. Metal appears hard and smooth, blood splattered and dripping slowly runs down and cakes upon surfaces, and candles flicker against the darkened background of space. On top of this, every monster and creature you encounter is fully designed from the mutated body of one or more deceased individuals, creating entire range of beasts ranging from a standard "zombie-like" horror to a 15 foot tall monster constructed of the tied together pieces of different corpses.

o   The only complaint concerning this title's graphics are as follows: the remaining corpses. Respectfully, I know that this is a family-focused website, however since this is not a family-focused title, it seems legitimate to bring this up. While everything else seems fully realized and designed, the remnants do not. These "left-overs" appear as little more than graphical "dolls" that have just been painted over with a gory pallet and left to provide poorly-done atmosphere to a well-done game. While it does not overly distract from the title, it was rather annoying to me as a fan of survival-horror games.
-          Audio: Very High
o   If there is a single there that stands out with Dead Space 2, it is the absolutely excellent audio quality. While the music is perfect and helps to add to the atmosphere, the real kicker is in the truly-amazing ambient sound; it adds everything you need to the gameplay. Walking through any given hallway, you are prone to hear the soft tinkle of claws against metal as a creature runs through a vent or the pounding footfalls of someone running a floor above you. Or perhaps the overarching environment doesn't scare you; maybe it's just that which is directly around you. You will hear the screaming sobs of a woman trapped in her apartment or the heavy breathing and soft roaring of a creature slowly following you in the rafters overhead.

o   While this game does not feature an outstanding musical score, the soft instrumental accompaniment attributes to the scares the player feels. A violin, quickly gathering pace, scratches upon your nerves as you try and walk down a hallway. The sudden absence of all background noise, filled out by only the soft breathing and steady thumping of Isaac's heart, is more terrifying then any score could have provided. This game does EVERYTHING a title should with its ambient audio quality and I cannot think a single place where they have faulted.

-          Gameplay / Playability: High
o   Dead Space 2 features a relatively high quality of gameplay and playability. To begin with, the controls for this title are relatively simple and blend well into the gameplay. I very rarely found myself wondering what button performed what action as the lay-out was relatively simple to all other games of the genre. Likewise, for sequences of gameplay that were out of the norm, the controls were generally of a simple nature and quick and easy to pick up. Likewise, all of the gameplay is extremely varied in a manner that keeps each situation and chapter fresh.

o   One of the truly fascinating elements of gameplay that blew us away was how the cut-scenes and regular gameplay were constantly mixed and matched. The game seamlessly moves from the standard game to the character talking and interacting with irregular elements, such as main characters from the story or extreme situations versus the monsters, and then back again. A perfect example was a mind blowing sequence where Isaac slide down a collapsing tram line, fighting off necromorphs, only to be ejected and hang upside down by one foot fighting off a second onslaught of monsters.

o   However, while the controls are generally simple (very often exact in comparison to the original title), the game has this strange problem of not telling you what those controls ARE. The tutorial aspect is a bit slow on the uptake, often tending to drop you into scenes of extreme danger and then, while you are running for your life, popping up a small window telling you how to keep from being eviscerated. I won't deny that each action is explained eventually, it doesn't often help to find out that you can use certain items as weapons after having been mauled by an undead monster 5 times in a row before you find that information out.
-          Dollar-Value: High
o   Dead Space 2 has a relatively high dollar-value that is perpetuated by its well-rounded options and gameplay. To begin with, the game-experience is always kept exciting and new as new and interesting environments and elements are constantly introduced. Not only will players be fighting through the haunted corridors of The Sprawl, but they will be fighting the Necromorph threat upside down, inside, and even outside of the Sprawl in deep space; hurtling through the stars as you fight for your life against the gruesome beasts that the Necromorph infection has created in a 12 hour game.

o   That said, maybe fighting the infection on the Sprawl alone just isn't your calling. Maybe you want to have some friends along for the ride. This title features an extensive multi-player campaign akin to the Left 4 Dead series that can be played on the internet. This series allows individuals to play as both Humans and Necromorph monsters in 4 vs. 4 battles as the Human attempt to stop the outbreak. Players are even able to level up, similar to designs such as Call of Duty or Battlefield Bad Company.

o   The only downside to the above mentioned design is that the gameplay feels a bit roughly put together. While enjoyable, there are extreme balance issues that need to be fleshed out between the Necromorph monsters and the Sprawl security teams. While this is a relatively minor complaint in the scope of things, it affected gameplay strongly enough that I always debated whether I wanted to attempt to play multiplayer modes.

-          Sadly, we cannot think of a single survival horror game that has been rated lower that M by the ESRB rating system. However, as we have suggested in previous reviews, you may wish to take a look at the Resident Evil series. While this title involves blood, gore, and zombie-monsters, it is also one of the lightest horror titles on the market and offers a large number of available games.

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