Impressions / Dead Space 2’s single-player

I’m a firm believer in the idea that playing a game that you’ve really been looking forward to should be fresh the first time; you should know as little as possible about the title going into it. With that in mind I’ve been trying to avoid any Dead Space 2 media; Isaac Clarke’s next adventure is sitting on top of my most anticipated games list right now and I don’t want any scares or plot details spoiled for me.

So it was with some reluctance that I grabbed the game for some hands-on time at the Eurogamer Expo this year. However, instead of coming away feeling spoiled, I left anticipating the game even more.

In my short time with the demo I led Isaac through one of the more cramped areas of The Sprawl, the game’s space hub setting. It was a scene that could have been taken straight out of the original game; no music, dank lighting, and a lone engineer, awaiting orders from the controller. It was already good to be back.

The silence continued for a few more rooms, only being interrupted by a pipe bursting and showering Isaac in steam. It was clear that the first thing developer Visceral Games wanted to do with this demo was establish the tone of the original game after talking up the action so much. My fears about the sequel merely being Uncharted 2 in space are almost immediately put to rest.

Soon Isaac found himself surrounded by containers, the glass on each one so frozen that we couldn’t take a peek at what was inside. Of course, we sort of already knew that Necromorphs were hiding, waiting to pounce in some of them and sure enough one jumped out to block Isaac’s path. It was time to fall back on the plasma cutter, the fan favourite weapon from the last game that shoots both horizontally and vertically.

Shooting felt as smooth as ever; in no time I was chopping off legs and then aiming for the arms like a pro. Dead Space 2 still has the core shooting down, and it’s still fun, that box can be ticked too. I got a little too close to one of the enemies and so they grabbed Isaac, trying to munch on him. A simple mashing of the x button got him off and then I got to enjoy a lovely (read: brutal) sequence of Isaac ripping said Necromorph’s head off. He’s obviously learned a few new tricks since the Ishimura.

It turns out that was just a warm up though; the next room was filled with these containers and a whole lot of Necromorphs suddenly burst through the glass, cutting off Isaac’s options for moving around. The result was a surprisingly intense action scene that saw me desperately switching targets; aiming for whatever limbs I could while getting hacked to pieces. Maybe I wasn’t as good as I liked to think. Then the Necromorph’s started throwing up on me.

Admittedly… I died. Yeah, it was embarrassing but no way was I giving up the controller just yet. I promptly marched back to my last position, this time armed with medpacks and the classic plasma rifle. It made short work of my foes but they just kept coming. Then the next embarrassing thing happened; I span round a corner to find yet another hulking Necromorph in my way, and it scared the absolute crap out of me. The crowd behind me laughed as I jumped out of my skin. Still, this was a show floor demo and it still managed to pack enough tension to get me going? Clearly Dead Space 2 is going to be a hit when you take it home.

The final part of the demo incorporated the puzzle elements from the last game, asking me to drag down objects with telekinesis, then activating anti-gravity for some familiar space jumping. With the noise of the show floor it was hard to tell exactly what I had to do and I ended up just roaming around confused for a good while. Still, it wasn’t the game’s fault and it was good to see some variety mixed into the demo, it’s just maybe not what I wanted out of a short glimpse of the game.

I left Dead Space 2 with a big smile on my face (while admittedly shaking a little). The devs are definitely keeping what made the original great while taking it to new heights too. January can’t get here soon enough.