Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Get ready for a heap of aliens in "Dead Space 2"

"Dead Space 2"

Developed by Visceral Games
Published by Electronic Arts
Available: NOW
Platforms: PS3 - also available on Xbox 360 and PC
Rated M
Price: $59.99 (Limited Edition), $79.99 (Collector's Edition)

As a pro at battling virtual zombies in video games, there are a few things that give you an advantage over the undead. First, you can usually outrun them. They don't move fast, unless they find you to be attractive. Next, they aren't very smart. If you can attract them to one spot, you can take several of them out at once. Lastly, zombies don't understand tactics. The only place you'll see zombies flank or coordinate attacks is online. And they are controlled by humans. Basically, the only thing zombies have are sheer numbers. No weapons, no strategy, just brute force.

In Dead Space 2, however, these undead types are no joke!

Developed by Visceral Games and published by EA, Dead Space 2 is the sequel to the shocking survival tale Dead Space. The game is a 3rd-person shooter (over the back) and picks up 3 years after our protagonist, Isaac Clarke, destroys this mysterious Marker that's spreading an undead virus to the masses. The adventure starts with Isaac waking up on the Sprawl, a hella huge space station of sorts orbiting Saturn. From there, it's a mad dash to get off the Sprawl and live to see another day.

If you are familiar with Dead Space, and even Dead Space: Extraction (A Wii version was released in 2009 - and is available for purchase on PSN or with the collector's edition of Dead Space 2), you will feel right at home chopping, slashing, curb-stomping and decking the Necromorphs that step up constantly for a beat down. If you are new to the Dead Space universe, Visceral Games does a great job of getting you up to speed on what's going down with a "Previously on Dead Space" segment.

The gameplay is wicked. For some odd reason, Isaac is hated by nearly everyone on the Sprawl. From the heavy-handed Earthgov types to the Necromorphs, he can't catch a break. Then, after working his way off the Sprawl, he finds himself going back to the place where Dead Space ended - the Ishimura. The story reminds me of Aliens when Ripley returns to the same planet where an alien species wiped out her entire crew.

As you play as Clarke, you won't be bored with the usually shoot 'em up gameplay - you will find yourself rocketing toward a speeding railcar - or free falling through space at high velocity, avoiding hunks of large debris coming at you fast and furious - it's a generous mix of action that will keep you on your toes. Yes, there's a lot of repetition - especially climbing through vents (I didn't see a single loading screen, which leads me to believe the vents mask the loading screens) but it's one thrilling adventure that shouldn't be missed.

The weapons are pretty sweet too. You have your trusty plasma cutter - you find the most ammo of this one - to an assault rifle and several other weapons, including a flamethrower and a handheld buzzsaw called the Ripper. In close combat, trust, making Necromorph BBQ or carving them like a Thanksgiving turkey will get them off you. Throughout the game, you'll also be able to upgrade your weapons and your suit. You also have stasis and kinesis to lift and move objects. Statis freezes fast moving objects - and kinesis grabs objects to move or throw devices at Necromorphs.

The game can be mentally challenging at times. You will run across a few levels where you have to position or find parts to get a device working. You will have to rig circuits to open doors and one scene - you have to guide a needle into your eye. Yes, a needle into your eye.

The PS3 version of the game also comes with the Wii game Dead Space: Extraction, which is Move-enabled and plays exactly like the Wii version of the game but with slightly improved graphics. As stated earlier, you can get the game with the collector's edition of DS2 or buy it on PSN.

Multiplayer modes in Dead Space 2 are rock solid. You can play as engineers or Necromorphs in four-man teams. The levels are not as large as most online shooter levels, but it's tight quarters and forces you to use strategy. It's not like the multiplayer modes in Left 4 Dead 2, which features single-player levels that double as multiplayer levels. The Necromorphs often have the advantage because they can pop out of vents to wreck shop.

Be warned - this game is visceral (no pun intended) and isn't recommended for anyone with a sensitive stomach. You oftentimes have to stomp bodies and boxes to reveal ammo, medpacks and credits. When you stomp a body, arms and legs go flying. It's a bloody mess most times.

The graphics are very good. The levels were you are in space, weightless can easily cause vertigo. One level, where you have to angle solar panels, is one of the most visually stunning parts of the game.

Dead Space 2 is a challenging shooter that will keep you guessing, even until the very end. Check it out!

The verdict: 9.35 (out of 10 stars) If you are looking for a game to play with your children, keep trucking. If you are looking for a game that will test your mental ability with challenges, and have you easing around corners to make sure a Necromorph doesn't eat/slime/pummel you? Yepp, this is your title.

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