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March 7, 2011
Dead Space 2 - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
28/1/2011EA GamesEA GamesVisceral Games12-8
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating
Disc0MB720pYes (bonus content)NoMA15+

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Isaac Clark returns in Dead Space 2.
Back in October 2008 Electronic Arts released their incarnation of a survival horror game called Dead Space. While we never reviewed that game, we played through it several times and absolutely fell in love with EA's new franchise. Indeed it was so impressive that it won Best Audio in a PS3 Game title in our awards that year. So now, a bit over two years later, the sequel is out from the same development team, Visceral Games, but can it also deliver the goods? Here's our review...

Hero Isaac Clarke returns for another heart-pounding adventure, taking the fight to the Necromorphs in this action-horror experience. New tools to gruesomely slice and dismember the Necromorphs complement Isaac's signature Plasma Cutter, empowering him as he meets new characters, explores epic Zero-G environments, and fights against a relentless necromorph onslaught. Survival isn't the only thing on Isaac's mind in Dead Space 2 - this time, he calls the shots.

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Enemy design in Dead Space 2 is, well, haunting.
As a sequel the story in this game follow on from the first, however the developers have included a nice little video which gives and overview of the events of the first game - even for those that played the original this is a great reminder of the main events. When you get into the game it's not long before you get used to the controls. The D-Pad maps all four weapons, analogue sticks move the main character around and aim your weapon, you can switch to a first person mode for increased accuracy, and there are various special powers which allow you to slow down fast- moving enemies or grab distant objects and bring them closer to you. If you've played the original title you'll slip right in here, if you're a newcomer you'll get to grips with the controls pretty quickly.

Enemy design really is a highlight of Dead Space 2. Not only are they varied, from exploding babies, to fast moving long limbed creatures, and Fat Bastard styled enemies. Each has their own attack patterns, and best methods of being taken down. Fortunately Isaac has a wide range of weapons on offer from your "standard" Plasma Cutter, to Pulse Rifle, Flamethrower, Seeker Sniper Rifle, Line Gun, and Seeker among others. Each weapon also has an alternate fire (by pressing R2 instead or R1) which has a very different effect. The pulse rifle, for instance, will use 25 rounds of ammunition and launch a grenade instead.

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Surrounded by mutated humans...
At various points along your journey you will find a shop stalls where you can buy new items such as weapons, health packs, ammunition or items, or sell items that you have picked up along the way or no longer need. Also returning are the workbenches which allow you to upgrade your weapons using collected Power Nodes. These upgrades can go towards increased reload speeds, increased damage, or increased weapon capacity.

There really aren't to many major issues with this game although there are a couple of annoyances. After you have defeated enemies you can pick up items or credits from them however, annoyingly, in order to do this you need to first stomp on them to break up their bodies and release the items. Surely the developers could have found a little bit slicker method of picking up the items. The storyline too is a little weak in our books - it's not bad, and there's enough here to make sure you don't skip the cut-scenes, but it never really has the impact one expected.

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Isaac better start firing that weapon!
Finally, and this is the most interesting part, while there were moments which scare the shit out of you, the developers push this a little too often so you know when you enter an area, enemies will come for you. I would have loved to have seen some more of the "tense" haunting sounds moments that made the movie Alien so atmospheric. That's not to say it's not here, but rather there simply could have been a bit more.

Multiplayer was one aspect of this release which I had high hopes for, but ultimately it was an aspect that probably provided the biggest disappointment in the grand scheme of things. It's not that there is anything terrible here it's just that the developers haven't pushed any envelopes and the online multiplayer merely provides a few hours of fun if you have friends playing with you. This certainly isn't a game we would sell on its online features.

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Deaths are pretty brutal in Dead Space 2.
As an added bonus for PS3 owners who buy the Limited Edition of the game there is one very exciting bonus - the inclusion of Dead Space: Extraction as a bonus game. This was originally a Nintendo Wii title, but has been ported to PS3 with upgraded visuals and support for Sony's PlayStation Move controller. Essentially it's an on-rails shooter, but at points you can look around to pick up items, there are plenty of cut-scenes and the game actually tells the story of how the infection spread through the colony.

Is this the best game ever? No, but it is certainly one of the best games for Sony's motion controller. Visually it's below what we expect for a PS3 title, but better than some other titles we've seen on the system. In terms of the actual gameplay this is one of the better games making use of the Move controller and considering it sells on the PlayStation Store for over $AU20, it's a nice bonus inclusion for PS3 owners, and indeed makes the PS3 release vastly superior to the XBox 360 release.

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Floating through zero-gravity.
Visuals in Dead Space 2 really are quite exceptional. Being a game which relies on so much horror and frights it's not unexpected to see such a dark, claustrophobic setting. The 720p visuals have no anti-aliasing however the darker scenes mean you don't see a lot of jaggies. The developers have also turned on V-Sync which means there isn't any screen tearing at all. What does all this mean? Well Dead Space 2 is one very impressive looking title from an artistic level. Technically it's not the most accomplished title with some textures and effects a little average side compared to other aspects, but overall this remains a very impressive game visually and one we'd use as a demonstration of how great vision can often overcome "technical" limitations.

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One final Dead Space 2 screenshot.
Whether it's a game or a movie, if it's in the horror genre the audio generally plays a critical part in generating the atmosphere. Hearing terrifying screams from the surround sound channels will get the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. Dead Space 2 is one of the best games we've ever played from a sonic standpoint with plenty of haunting effects, great effects such as gunfire, explosions and shattering glass and music which keeps the game flowing and tension brewing. Dialogue is well scripted and delivered giving a believable representation of the characters along your travels.

Wow, what a game. I have no hesitation in saying that the Dead Space franchise is probably now my favourite survival/horror franchise in the market at the moment. It's moody, atmospheric, scary and one hell of an experience particularly if you have a great sound setup. Thanks to the inclusion of Dead Space: Extraction the PS3 version is certainly the version to get if you own a PlayStation Move, and if you don't it's worth picking Sony's motion controller up to play this bonus game. Dead Space 2 is a brilliant, essential, release.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSDark, moody, effective and atmospheric. This game has it all and retains a great frame rate.
SOUNDAs with the first game the audio in this title is exceptionally eerie.
GAMEPLAYProbably not as much change as we hoped for a sequel, but the gameplay remains brilliant.
VALUEThe main game is probably around 10 hours, but the limited edition, for a few dollars more includes Dead Space: Extraction which is one of the better Playstation Move titles.
OVERALLDead Space 2 is a no-brainer. If you like survival horror styled action games then this is an essential purchase. It remains our favourite game in the genre, and we can't wait for a third outing somewhere down the line.

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