by Max Keogh
previewed on PC
Hello again, Isaac...
The original Dead Space was a huge success story for both Visceral Games and Electronic Arts. The game became something that very few games become: an instant critical and commercial hit, winning a total of over a hundred game industry awards. As it became the best-selling horror game of 2008, Dead Space had the inevitable after-affects: countless spin-offs and products. We have had an animated film, Dead Space Downfall, which was a prequel set before the first game, and a Wii arcade-shooter remake. However, the actual sequel has kept us waiting for a good part of two years now. But the announcement is finally here: Dead Space 2 is coming, and it will bringing some exciting, different and intriguing concepts with it.
Dead Space 2 is being developed by the same team that created the first game, Visceral Games. They have stated that they aim to develop the character of Isaac more, and ultimately, to make a scarier ride than the first one was. For a sequel that is still in the early stages of development, Dead Space 2 seems to be full of new ideas.
A new scenario, a new place...
It has been years since Isaac’s nightmarish experience on the haunted, abandoned spaceship, the USG Ishimura, and Isaac has finally escaped the ship. Isaac has found an entire space city located on the rings of Saturn called “Sprawl”. Unfortunately, the city has become infected with a huge alien infection and now Isaac has to find a way to escape the city.
One of the best things about the original Dead Space was the atmosphere and the environment Isaac was trapped in. The USG Ishimura, a hellish spaceship filled with Necromorphs and giant alien monsters coming from everywhere, was a genuinely scary environment. The sequel’s transition from spaceship to a huge city is therefore a little bit unexpected, but certainly interesting. The real question is whether a city will offer that compares favourably with the isolation and claustrophobia the spaceship.
Perhaps one of the more daring and controversial changes here is the change to Isaac himself. Isaac, who was a silent straight man in the first game, will now become a more active hero, at least to the extent that Isaac will now be speaking. Isaac will no longer be alone either. He will now have NPC characters that he will talk with, and this interaction will be crucial in certain parts of the game.
The gameplay of Dead Space 2 is going to remain similar to the first game. The player will still be in a third-person perspective, exploring a dark, dangerous environment. Isaac will have a set of weapons available and he will have to kill Necromorph aliens and find his way out of ruined areas of the city.
By all accounts Dead Space 2 will be going down a more action-orientated path as Electronic Arts are calling Dead Space 2 an intense action thriller.
A different look
In addition to the new environment, more character interaction and more action,Dead Space 2 is also going for a much darker look and tone than the original. A lot of the areas of the city seem more ominous and foreboding in design than the spaceship of the original. This will certainly help with keeping the claustrophobic atmosphere of the original.
There are also rumours of new gameplay features, such as online multiplayer and co-op, coupled with more unlockable weapons for the player to find. It is questionable why multiplayer is needed in a horror game like Dead Space 2, but such addition will undoubtedly increase the longevity of the title amongst MMO players.
Electronic Arts is tight-lipped on what Dead Space 2 is going to offer, but the ideas that the development team have unveiled have certainly piqued my interest. Unlike many sequels, Dead Space 2 seems to be making some bold moves and seems to be ready to surpass it’s predecessor. For a sequel preceded by a big game, that can only be a good thing. Whilst it’ll be hard to top off such as solid first game, Dead Space 2 still has left lots of potential for the franchise itself.