December 21, 2010

Demo Report – Dead Space 2

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Brad Johnson @ 7:01 pm

Dead Space 2
The demo for Dead Space 2 hits XBL and PSN today, and with it comes the opportunity to step back into the shoes of mentally imbalanced and hyper-lethal space engineer Isaac Clarke.

The demo opens with a few minutes of video covering the events of Dead Space: Extraction and Dead Space (Don’t play it if you haven’t finished Dead Space, it spoils the ending!) before dropping you onto the Sprawl, a massive space station. If you’re familiar with Dead Space, what follows is very much familiar: you’ll slink through the corridors warily, and sooner or later some monsters will explode from the walls to attack you. The dismemberment mechanic from the original is, of course, still present; careful aim can mean the difference between felling an enemy with two shots or six. Never fear, though: the demo isn’t all routine.

Dead Space 2As you move on you’ll venture into a puzzle room that will re-familiarize you with the stasis and kinesis modules, along with a new hacking mini-game. When the puzzle is complete, gravity in the room will switch off and you’ll be introduced to the highlight of the demo: the redesigned zero gravity sequence. Isaac is now able to lift off and float freely, maneuvering himself with air jets. The animation for these sequences is true to the series standard, and Isaac really moves like someone might in zero gravity. In fact, it’s so satisfying to float through the eerily quiet zero-g chambers that I found myself ignoring the exit so I could enjoy it just a little bit longer. The demo doesn’t feature any combat in this sequence, so how that plays out will be something to look out for in the full release next month.

When I did start moving forward again I came to an ornate church—a stark and welcome departure from the mechanical halls of the first game. I stopped for a moment, realizing I could very faintly hear my own heartbeat—or, perhaps it was the heartbeat of the giant monster that burst from the ceiling to attack me. Who can say? Later, I stopped in front of a window overlooking the Sprawl and said “Wow” aloud, because, really, wow. Dead Space 2 appears to be taking atmosphere and art design to the next level, and is rendered in exceptionally sharp graphics and careful detail, from tiny glowing “No Smoking” signs to the minute ornamentation of Issac’s new armor.

Adjustments in weapon design as well as enemy design indicate that, unlike the original, you’ll have a reason to use something other than the basic plasma cutter for once. The reality in the original Dead Space was that there were no weaker enemies—it took numerous, carefully aimed shots to kill everything, so spray and pray weapons were out of the question, and crowd control devices were of limited usefulness. The demo contains a sequence that seems to be included specifically to demonstrate the new approach, where Isaac is swarmed by a legion of zombified children. These enemies take but a single shot to fell with the plasma cutter—but there are so many that the weapon becomes impractical. Instead, I let loose the plasma rifle, and mowed them down with ease. Later, I employed the new javelin gun, which fires spears that can nail enemies to walls. Even against the tougher enemies, this weapon seemed to score a one hit kill—and to offset its limited ammo, fired spears become electric mines that will decimate other enemies.

The demo wraps with Isaac nearly being blasted out into the void by an attacking gunship, and finally ambushed by a lurking necromorph monster. All things considered, what’s presented here is a familiar but refined experience. The verdict on whether Dead Space earns its “2” will have to wait until the full release on January 25, but the demo shows clear promise.


  1. Does the Demo provide with any extras to use when you buy the full game?

    Comment by EdEN — December 22, 2010 @ 12:17 am

  2. Just the satisfaction of having prepped yourself for the ride. I think ebgames has a pre-order weapon thing going on again, because they feel compelled to keep doing that to us.

    Comment by Jamie Love — December 22, 2010 @ 12:36 am

  3. I’ll probably get the CE for the game since the January release might give me enough time to come up with the $$$… as well as an excuse as to the wife as to WHY I bought another game after the 30 I got in december hehehe.

    Comment by EdEN — December 22, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

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