Dead Space 2 First Look

We have a look at some of the new features in this much-anticipated survival horror sequel.

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Anyone remotely versed in the survival horror genre knows that the element of surprise is critical in this type of game. And as great as the original Dead Space was at maintaining a sense of grim uncertainty about what was lying in wait around the next corner, its greatest feat might have been proving that EA was capable of succeeding with an original title right out of the gate. That leaves developer Visceral Games (formerly known as EA Redwood Shores) in an interesting position leading up to the release of the sequel. How does the team crafting the next atmospheric trek through the zombie-infested corners of outer space top the out-of-left-field success it achieved the first time around? By not falling into the trap of making the same game.

Executive producer Steve Papoutsis was in the GameSpot office a few weeks ago to demo two brief areas from Visceral's upcoming sequel. Though he was keen to reiterate that his team is out to make a Dead Space game above all else, he also knows that "more of the same" doesn't quite cut it in a genre where keeping the player off guard is so critical to success. "Isaac has already been through the shit," Papoutsis said of the series' engineer-turned-protagonist. "He's already fought these enemies." Dead Space 2, then, is less a game about dealing with the initial shock of zombified aliens turning one's place of work into a living nightmare and more about using that experience to fight back and find answers.

Don't worry--Dead Space 2 is hardly some Charles Bronson-in-space revenge tale of one man with a score to settle against the villainous necromorphs who have wronged him. Sure, there are changes to Isaac's abilities to make him a more adept fighter. His movement is noticeably less plodding, his melee attacks require less full-body windup, and his telekinesis ability operates more quickly and is thus more suitable for use in combat situations. But for all of that, there are new weapons and new enemies that command the sort of deliberate approach to combat that leads us to believe this game won't be quite the run-and-gun action title that so many other survival horror franchises have evolved into.

One example is Papoutsis' weapon of choice during the demo: the javelin gun. This gun is almost entirely useless when you use its main fire--it merely shoots a dart into enemies or surfaces that causes relatively little damage. But in keeping with the Dead Space tradition of meticulously upgrading nearly every item you use in the game, the javelin gun gains a new alternate fire mode with every upgrade level you reach with it. Papoutsis displayed how a single well-placed shot followed by the incendiary alternate fire can cause a group of necromorphs to burst into flame and thus save you plenty of ammo in the process. Likewise, he showed how you can set traps on the ground by shooting a few electrical rounds on the floor and then wait for your enemies to turn the corner and trigger the alternate fire to send them convulsing in a light show of blue and white sparks.

Things just never seem to improve for poor Isaac.

Balancing out empowering new weapons like the javelin gun are a variety of terrifying new enemy types. The big theme with a lot of new necromorphs seems to be "power in numbers." One of these is the stalker, described by Papoutsis as a velociraptor-like predator prone to hunting in small packs. They're all about group tactics like having one distract you while the others flank your unguarded periphery. The fact that they look quite a bit like alien raptors certainly doesn't help them seem any more cuddly, either. Similar to the stalker is the pack, who trade in strategic formations for sheer numbers. Besides looking like horribly mutated infants charging at you with outstretched arms, these little guys are a threat because they move fast and almost always with plenty of friends around. Killing a single member of the pack doesn't take much more than one or two shots from the most basic of Isaac's weapons--the plasma cutter--but when you're confronted by a half-dozen of them, that's when you really need to worry.

Beyond weapons and enemies, it seems that some of the biggest changes to how you deal with the necromorph invasion come from the setting itself. If you've followed what little has been released about Dead Space 2 thus far, you'll know that the game is set three years after the original and largely takes place in and around a city called the Sprawl--an urban metropolis built on Titan, one of Saturn's moons. And while this new setting allows for much more visual variety than the uniformly dark and brownish-gray corridors of the USG Ishimura--we spied a lot of bright green lighting in a mining facility and a pretty impressive orange-hued view of the Sprawl skyline--what intrigues us most is the way you interact with these settings. Papoutsis readily admitted that a lot of the environments in the original--despite being triumphs in creepy atmosphere--were pretty static when you weren't solving puzzles.

In the sequel, Visceral wants you to do more with the environments. Objects like chairs, tables, and glass windows are now quite destructible, able to be shattered into stray bits and pieces when fired upon. Combine that with the fact that you can now impale and pin down enemies with sharp objects using telekinesis, and you start to see the fun applications of this new tech. However, recklessly firing can also have unforeseen consequences, like when you accidentally shoot the cables suspending the overhead hanging lights. Shoot one cable, and rectangular light might come swinging down and drastically alter the look of the room. Shoot all the cables, and suddenly you've got a shattered light on the ground and a much darker room to navigate.

Your old friend the plasma cutter is back.

Our favorite moment came when Papoutsis shot out the safety glass separating Isaac from the powerful vacuum of space. This move can be a double-edged sword: if you're fighting necromorphs close to the glass, you can shoot it out and watch as they get sucked out into the abyss. But if you're close by, you'll get sucked out as well. The only way to avoid a horrible demise is to quickly look for the bright red safety door triggers that will shoot a metal hatch up from the ground and keep you from joining those enemies in the vast emptiness of space. As if the threat of zombie aliens wasn't bad enough.

Will the rest of Dead Space 2 be as scary as the threat of a sudden and violent trip into the abyss of space? We'll just have to wait and see. One thing's for sure though: we should have more on Dead Space 2 at next month's E3, so keep an eye out.

Discussion

302 comments
World_War_gamer
World_War_gamer

man, the RIG looks ultra!.....im gonna enjoy playing this(masterpiece of a) game

DJ-Wolfman09
DJ-Wolfman09

im already crapping my pants in anticipation, this is gonna be epic!

makishodan
makishodan

I really hope there are people arround here that remember System Shock 2, released in 1999... That was, for me, the best game ever made, so far. And by many other recognized gaming magazins, portals etc. Ofc, I played dead space, and it is awesome, yes. But here is something that will get you think... In system shock 2, you were on a mission where you had to make a certain chemical, and used it on hydrophonics deck, and thus remove the biomass that was jamming the elevator... Sounds familiar? :) Only in ss2, you had to find the chemichals for yourself, and mix it... It is still best game in this genre. I can only imagine how it would look today, with todays graphics...

Stasiss13
Stasiss13

The first Dead Space was one of my favorite 1-player games out of the past few years. So many intense moments. I hope by them saying they are making it more combat friendly it doesn't lose it's charm and magic that made it so fun.

AkhilAnilkumar
AkhilAnilkumar

Great......i just hope this doesn't disappoint....i mean the first game was really brilliant and established something new and awesome..if the second game fails to live up to that it will be disappointing.

edgewalker16
edgewalker16

Why is it that I am immediately reminded of Bioshock when this article mentioned alternate ammo and a new multiplayer mode...so much for being different.

PerVerZ_23
PerVerZ_23

kann das game nicht schon draußen sein

hellpolice
hellpolice

Very anticipated sequel I hope it delivers and live up to the hype.

Rovelius
Rovelius

I found RE5's Versus Mode to be quite enjoyable at times, now we would basically have the same thing in DS2 except with the ability of strafing whilst shooting. It won't be a killer but I think there will still be some fun to be found

The_Frozen_Soul
The_Frozen_Soul

hope the second's scarier than the first..... It's gonna be interestin'....

iGhoSt8
iGhoSt8

The First game was cool, but i would like to use realistic weapons in 2nd... like magnum shotgun and some sniper actions too .... and remove this laser system i can aim just right! and i would like to control a 27-33 years old good looking and strong guy instead of isaac who was not powerful and looks...

dimis_
dimis_

As the first Dead Space was my second most favourite game this generation, i am hoping they release an enormous collector's edition, the size of a shoes box! This is a franchise by now. I am hoping for a new anime perhaps to go with it and include the first too?

cdodo
cdodo

"Dead Space 2 is coming out...when its ready" - Steve Papoutsis Holy, did anyone just cry when they heard that! EA releasing games when they are ready not when they need a pay check! Anyone who says "EA makes terrible games" is a moron, EA recently has had a turn around. They finally understand why people 'seem' to have an issue with their games. Now they are buying up 'unique' (not overpriced) indie companies, releasing new IPs, actually making improvements to their sequels for once, and has been on a fairly consistent good game streak recently. EA is finally showing some initiative. I'm so proud of them.

dyziux
dyziux

First one is epic, i think this one gonna be to :)

tinytoe007
tinytoe007

i prefer the other armour the old one

DreadWarden
DreadWarden

Why he only mentioned xbox360 and PS3? What about the PC version?

Amander123
Amander123

@sboy1345 I actually havent played red dead but ill take your word for it :) I praise the publishers that can pull that off

couly
couly

More of the same can be bad sometimes but please keep zero gravity and the combat system and HUD (or lack of) thats what made Dead Space so special.

sboy1345
sboy1345

@Amander123 your right.. it is hard to find a middle ground balancing sp and mp, but it can be done.. look at red dead, both aspects are equally great and it almost feels like your getting 2 games in one

trotromiel
trotromiel

dead space was so shocking. i got soo scared. but in a good way. sound effects were so creepy

allstarwavegang
allstarwavegang

man i hate dat i just watched this cuz now i want 2 play dead space...which was a great game n i think was a game dat came out of no where..daammm wish i still had it

zymbo
zymbo

@MERGA TROYDER Which platform did you play it on? I played this for PC and it was smooth as silk. @baked_froggy Obviously not, if he makes it to part 2. :) I can't wait for this game. It will be fantastic.

MERGATROYDER
MERGATROYDER

The first title is plagued with glitches and it ruined it for me. I got tired of things being stuck in walls and things not accepting input to continue in the game story.

baked_froggy
baked_froggy

at the end of the original wasn't Issac killed by that girl? i'm confused

illpoetic
illpoetic

I can't believe that game scared me so much. Man I was walking sooooo slow twitching at every special effect. lol I didn't notice what I was doing until someone told me I looked really scared. I know they said they're changing things to not be too scary, but if they bring that back to version 2, I'll be very happy.

wolf0
wolf0

dead space was so fun hope this is more the same

Amander123
Amander123

I'm a little scared about the multiplayer part. Its very easy for them to go wrong with that. I'd rather multiplayer be left out because a lot of the time it leeches off a good story and cuts it too short (like modern warfare 2). Either the story sucks and multiplayer is great, or the multiplayer sucks and the story is great. Its hard to find that middle ground. Let's hope they dont screw it up :)

No_SuRReNDeR
No_SuRReNDeR

later-ish...funny..that's when I show up for work too...

sharkbiscuit79
sharkbiscuit79

mutliplayer, great!! just what we need for a survival horror, on the forums people are saying they want it and people that are following the game like most commenting on here and including myself dont want it like one guy said the teenagers have COD, HALO, GOW ect ect. devs please take note of the REAL fanbase for your franchise I will still part with £40 just for single player experience as long as its more than 10hrs long. Or if not put multiplayer on a seperate disc so you dont have to cut things out of the story.

mooooo99
mooooo99

should be awesome cool if it's as scary as the first one..

the_blue_hat3
the_blue_hat3

I Cant wait for Dead Space 2. I spent 13 hours playing through the first one with the lights off and the sound up on bust, my Bro and friend watched me play through the entire thing. Better than ANY horror movie out there, nearly jumped out of our pants more than once. Games are definately the best way to experience horror, nothing else compares to putting "yourself" at risk in that kind of scenario.

gabor_sama
gabor_sama

I'm loving everything about the sequel but Issac's having a voice.

COD2-The_Pope
COD2-The_Pope

@ticklemonster1: Doom3 had multiplayer if I remember correctly and it was pretty much the same premise as DS. So i imagine it'll work like doom3's.

ticklemonster1
ticklemonster1

how can you multiplayer survival horror unless its co-op? capture the flag and deathmatchdont work when the premise is to scare the crap out of you

freema
freema

I hope they don't take the route of Bioshock 2. The last thing I want is diluting the awesome single-player experience of the original with some "brain-dead" multiplayer modes just to appease the ADHD-suffering teenage masses. Those kids already have Modern Warfare 2, Gears of War and Halo... while Dead Space is, and should stay, in a totally different category.

53xD
53xD

what a cool guy

Hairyjon
Hairyjon

Dead Space is my favorite survival horror game next to Resident Evil 4

popman183
popman183

Great game, hope the sequel lives up to the first one.

Sprizmo
Sprizmo

This is my kind of franchise.

akz_chris
akz_chris

dead space is one of best horrid game ever and i know the second will be as well as first one.

Mudvayne84
Mudvayne84

Love the way Issac's helmet forms around him, almost iron man like. Maybe even better. I'm sure this will be an enjoyable game either way, this development team seems to be really focused on attention to details and user experience. That right there should be a good sign that most of us will enjoy this when released.

DJ8WORK
DJ8WORK

@ TheKungFool, well the Dead space 2 Multiplayer could be a 4 player coop horde mode!! that would be cool, wave after wave of monsters coming for u!

TheKungFool
TheKungFool

everything sounds good...... .....except the part about an online multiplayer. I wish devs would hurry up and realize that not every game needs an online multiplayer. Chronicles of Riddick: didn't need multiplayer BioShock 2: didn't need multiplayer Uncharted 2: didn't need multiplayer and Dead Space 2 certainly doesn't need it either.

DP1130
DP1130

Dead Space is legendary. That game brought back the feeling of dread that RE 1 + 2, System Shock 2, and Eternal Darkness had. If Dead Space 2 improves on the original, we may have a new king in the Survival Horror genre. To once again turn the lights out, hit start and wonder (with actual fear) what horrors I'm going to face. I can't wait!!!