Now with 100% More Necromorphs!
Dead Space 2 returns Issac to some new territory; chiefly an orbiting space station (called the Sprawl) where now, instead of wandering the vacuous corridors in search of answers to what happened to a decimated crew, he must discover what has happened to himself, as well as finding out more about the mysterious "marker" from the first game and why it's so important to the pseudo-religion of Unitology. But first he must survive.
As in the first game, DS2 excels at creating a creepy atmosphere that very rarely eases up to give the player breathing room. If you've played the first game then everything in this game will be familiar; from the controls to the eerily-lit environments. Dismembering Necromorphs is still key to success, as well as stockpiling ammo and health kits. Mastering the telekinesis and stasis abilty is still paramount to the aforementioned stockpiling, as you can rip off enemy limbs and throw them back at any pursuing Necro's with devastating results saving several precious rounds of ammo in the process. Impaling enemies never gets old in this game and is one of the combat highlights to savor.
Although the game is very linear there is a little room for exploration, and traveling off the beaten path can reward curious players by finding extra health, ammo or the much sought after power nodes which allow you to upgrade Issac's weapons, suit and stasis and telekinetic ability. Upgrading is essential to success, so finding as many power nodes as you can is worth the effort since they are quite expensive to buy at the store kiosks scattered sparingly across each level. And since there is a New Game+ mode this time around, all of your upgraded gear will carry over to that play-through as well.
It's not all about killing, however, as there are a few puzzles and environmental obstacles to overcome as you navigate Issac from one abandoned room to the next. Much like in the first game none of the puzzles you encounter are terribly taxing on the brain, and they only serve as a mild diversion from the constant oppressive feel throughout the Sprawl. A new hacking mini-game is introduced as well, but likewise it is very easy to master. Maneuvering in zero g returns but with the added benefit of Issac now being able to use small jet-thrusters in his suit to give him added momentum, as well as the handy ability to re-orient yourself with the ground at the touch of a button (which definitely comes in handy as it's very easy to lose one's sense of direction if you're not paying attention).
While it still relies on "jump scares" to try and get the best of you, dedicated fans should already know to expect this somewhat diminishing its effect. Although I must admit, I did get a jump once or twice while playing at night in a dark room with headphones on as once again Necromorphs will utilize vents and ceiling ducts to their advantage to take you by surprise.
It would behoove anyone new to this franchise to play the first game before tackling the sequel, as the second game does directly tie-in with a lot of events from that game and makes references back to it quite often. DS2 doesn't deviate too far from the mechanics from the first game, but that's not a bad thing since the first game did an excellent job with its presentation. And chances are if you enjoyed the first game you are going to enjoy this one as well.