Manages to be better than the first one, but it's clichéd and is so desperate to scare, that it's embarssing.

User Rating: 8.5 | Dead Space 2 PS3
The first Dead Space has somewhat gotten a big reputation since its release, being regarded as one of the best survival horror games (if not the best) to have come out in recent memory (probably since Resident Evil 4). I meant back then, that the game was a tad over-rated and that it wasn't scary at all. That being said however, I did consider it a pleasant surprise of 2008, as it actually was a lot of fun to play and surprisingly well made... with the exception of the story and how it was told. Now it's 2011, and Dead Space returns, and while I do remain excited for it, it's only gameplay wise.

Story
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The game takes place 3 years after Dead Space 1. Issac Clarke has been moved to the space colony "The Sprawl", where he has been submitted to a mental hospital, still haunted by visions of his dead girlfriend Nicole. One night however, Franco (main character from Dead Space: Ignition) comes and frees Issac, while hell has broken lose, with the Necromorphs seemingly invading "The Sprawl." Being freed, Issac has to escape from The Sprawl, as well as figure what caused the Necromorphs return.

The story suffers from the typical sequel clichés, so how everything pans out is pretty much easy to figure out. Having Issac facing himself with Nicole is a nice touch, but it's underused sadly. The story is entertaining though, and having Issac a voice, actually makes him a pretty likeable character. It's a clichéd one sure, but it's at least a little better than the story in DS1, and it never goes down to the level where you'll be slapping yourself in stupidity over what's happening, even if there's a few plot holes here and there, and with it's annoying ending.

7.5

Gameplay
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Not much has changed gameplay wise. It's basically the same gameplay as in the first one, which isn't bad because there was a lot to like about the game and it was still fun to play, the three times I had to replay it for platinum trophy, and the fun is still intact. It even manages to avoid becoming tedious and repetitive, unlike the first game in the end.

As said, not a lot have changed, with only minor tweaks being made. In the Zero Gravity sections, Issac now has thrusters so he can seemingly fly. It makes the sections nicer, although it can become disorienting.

There also seems to be a bigger focus on set-pieces this time around, which do become pretty epic and is responsible for some of the best moments in the game. It also helps, that the story telling has been improved. The first game had a amusement park feeling, because everytime a story event was happening, you were always behind a window. It felt more like you were in a haunted house ride, than anything else. Thankfully, there's almost none of that this time, and with the camera always staying behind Issac, even in cut-scenes, it helps a lot with the immersion.

There are some issues, however. First of all, you have the same arsenal as in the first game, which is very disappointing. It also manages to become quite annoying, with the final chapters reducing to throwing Issac in a room and having numerous enemies charging at him. It can become a little overwhelming during the first few times, and a bit unfair.

The biggest strike against the game, however? It's not scary, at all. Like the first game, it tries to scare you with loud noises (As most American horror movies do) and it feels to need to have this almost every 5 minute, right to the point where the environments even do their bidding. It's like having a kid constantly trying to scare you by hiding between furniture and doors, desperately trying to scare you, but while you may credit the kid for at least hiding in a few good places, Dead Space 2 can't be told the same. It doesn't even have the same atmosphere from the first one, which despite its lame scare attempts, actually was pretty good. In fact, it's like the game knows this, because halfway through, the game just stops trying to be scary and focuses on action. Which is probably for the better, considering that the game is so desperate to scare you, that it's embarrassing.

The game takes around 8-10 hours to complete. There isn't much in ways of collectables to collect throughout the game (as you'll probably get most audio and text logs during your first one), but you do unlock additional suits. There are of course different difficulty levels to mess around with, but you can also attempt the game, in hardcore mode. Here, there's less supplies to be had, and the though the enemies are somewhat similar to the normal difficulty, you can only save 3 times throughout the entire game. It's quite a challenge and it's highly recommended that people should have a go on hardcore. It brings a lot of tension to the game, somewhat making it a bit more scary than normally.

The game has multiplayer, which works similarly to Left 4 Dead. It's 4 Vs. 4, with one team being the humans who has to try and complete objectives and the other as the Necromorphs, having to defend them. It's unbalanced as hell. It's too easy for the Necromorphs to kill the humans, especially with their spawn points that located very close to some objectives. Likewise though, when humans activate a part that runs down on a timer, it's nearly impossible for the Necromorphs to stop them, especially given that the humans can use stasis to their advantage. Its fun at first, but it gets boring over time, and there's no real hook to it.

The gameplay is still fun and it has a lot of awesome moments, though the lack of new weapons and its scare tactics is certainly disappointing, and the multiplayer ends up feeling too much like a bad Left 4 Dead clone.

8.5

Graphics
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The game is beautiful. Though the environments can get a little boring and lack a little bit of detail here and there, the characters are beautifully rendered, with beautiful animations. The game can take a few hits to its frame-rate, but it happens very, very rarely thankfully.

8.5

Sound
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Like the first game, the voice acting is excellent, with good dialogue that, despites its story, avoids the typical clichéd horror lines. The music however isn't as good, often failing to create suspense and tension. Why they didn't go for an ambient electronic style, is beyond me, which in my opinion would have worked better.

8.0

Overall
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Thanks to its slightly better story and minor tweaks, Dead Space 2 manages to be a successful sequel to the first one. It's not as ground breaking as the first one, but it's originality still remains intact, and it's always fun to dismember the monsters. If you're a fan, you'll certainly want to buy it, but an average horror fan, will grow disappointed over its lack of scares.