'Dead Space 2': Not for the squeamish, or Mom
February 3, 2011
Rarely has an advertising campaign so accurately depicted a video game.
Stateside TV commercials and the website for “Dead Space 2” — yourmom hatesthis.com — revel in the fact that the M-rated game is so violent and gory that it’s guaranteed to earn a mother’s scorn. One of the moms in the video even predicts the game will make people insane. However, the ad also shows a game that incredibly intense and exciting — exactly what non-maternal humans crave in a game.
“Dead Space 2,” developed by Visceral for Electronic Arts, continues the bone-chilling science fiction saga of Isaac Clarke. In the original “Dead Space,” Isaac fought his way through countless necromorphs, dead bodies that had been reassembled into grotesque new creations and animated by a mysterious object known as the Marker. Isaac destroyed the Marker and barely escaped at the end of the game.
The second game picks up three years later, with Isaac confined in what appears to be a mental asylum on one of Saturn’s moons. Within two or three minutes, Isaac again encounters necromorphs and the action begins — and doesn’t let up until the final scene.
Along the way, Isaac experiences hallucinations, betrayal and lots of terror. It’s a mix that keeps the story fresh and unpredictable and makes the thrills more intense than those delivered simply by monsters popping out of nowhere.
Of course, a large percentage of the game’s chills come from the gore that earns frowns from moms. To start with, the necromorphs are repulsive compilations of body parts that kill humans in incredibly grisly ways. Killing these nasty creatures requires an equally gruesome technique: strategic dismemberment. It isn’t enough to shoot a necromorph. You need to sever its head and at least one appendage to ensure it doesn’t rise again to cause trouble. This can be accomplished by blasting, bashing or stomping bodies apart. It’s definitely not a game for those with weak stomachs.
Those who can get past these issues will find a game that offers an incredible amount of action — primarily shooting or pounding or stomping. But it also delivers a heavy dose of exploration and puzzle-solving. And blasting away with a pulse rifle won’t solve all your problems — even during a battle. You’ll need to freeze time with a burst of stasis energy or levitate or move an object with telekinesis.
The controls for all of these actions are smooth and well balanced — very important when things get crazy.
The graphics are incredible. The settings are usually dark and gritty but always well rendered. Characters and animations are realistic, which adds to the gruesomeness.
In addition to the story mode, “Dead Space 2” offers a multiplayer option that pits a team of human soldiers against a team of necromorphs. It’s much like the multiplayer mode of the zombie shooter “Left 4 Dead.” Soldiers with various weapons must face a collection of different necromorphs that slice, claw and spew. It’s a game that requires teamwork. Lone wolves don’t survive for long and rarely take out an enemy.
The PlayStation 3 edition also offers a version of “Dead Space Extraction,” a prequel to the original game. “Extraction” is a rail-based shooter that was originally released on the Wii and took advantage of that system’s motion-sensitive controller. The new PS3 version is compatible with the Move motion controller and offers much-enhanced graphics.
The game play, action, story and graphics of “Dead Space 2” are among the best available. However, I have to admit that I wish these qualities were available in a game that was a bit less extreme in its depiction of violence and gore.
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (tested)