Dead Space 2 – it’s just crap

…or alternatively “Dead Space 2 – and how the game news media proves it’s really not worth reading by putting out the same reviews (for crap games) as each other.”

Despite having played Dead Space 1 and having very little positive to say about it, I’m determined to remain optimistic and keep trying horror games when they come out (or I’m determined to keep being conned out of my money, which ever way you see it). I am also determined (mostly – with some encouragement from Peter Reviews) to finish a game when I start it to be able to give a full opinion on it.

So, what’s my opinion? In short, it’s a pile of crap. But the short version doesn’t really explain why or really do its absolute crap-ness justice, so I’ll continue.

I decided to get the Limited Edition version of Dead Space 2 – which in the UK included a free copy of Dead Space: Extraction. I load up the game, and am pretty much immediately annoyed by the ‘online pass’ system. It’s annoying for a number of reasons – first and foremost, why is there a need to add an extra system onto online play? Just to annoy me to death so I can’t tell people how crap your game is? Secondly, well…the very ‘in your face-look look we have multi-player too’ attitude. Dead Space 2 did not need multi-player. No game like it really needs multi-player.

Now don’t misread me here. I don’t care one way or the other about multi-player games. People have their favourites, they can play with their friends. These games, such as Team Fortress 2 or (going way back when) Unreal tournament, are designed for online play and can be fun. When a game is a single player story driven game, be it action or horror, adding multi-player just makes me feel like they took time away from developing a good game to tacking on multi-player. People will not play Dead Space 2 for it’s multi-player – they will go play their preferred multi-player game. So if games could stop wasting time and disk space with the tacked on multi-player crap, that would be great….

But I’m getting way way way…….way off course here. So, starting up Dead Space 2.

Unfortunately, there’s another rant here about something entirely different. There’s already a DLC and a Store option on the game menu. I’ve just put the game in, and already it’s telling me I can spend even more money. I dislike (I dislike a lot of things) the current precedent with DLC – that all games are pretty much now designed with it in mind. Again all this feels like is game’s developers taking out content to ask you to pay for it later. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to be able to buy a game and just play it, without having to think that really the complete version of the game is if you spend 10-20 extra pound on stuff that was cut out.

*sigh* I think I got it all out of my system now…

I watch the ‘Previously on Dead Space’ video for a quick game reminder, then start the game in normal and wait for it to load.

The first thing I notice is that the character models are different – your girlfriend looks totally different. It’s a bit weird but I guess it’s not that important. Despite the fact that I was a bit confused as to why the game has a sequel – I enjoy the opening movie. Isaac is in some sort of metal institute or correctional facility. It’s dark and the sound is very bass-y and you’re being questioned (more like interrogated) and then your creepy dead girlfriend crawls across the table at you shouting and glowing. Pretty creepy. The game starts really trying to show off its graphics. The poor guy trying to save you gets turned into a necromorph right in front of you – and no, it’s not really that scary – it’s a bit too over the top for that, but it is quite…pretty?

And then? Well the game just gets annoying. I’m told to run. I’m a bit slow and I die. Restart. I get a little further and go the wrong way. Death. Restart again. All the while I’m dying the game is trying to give me some on screen help/tutorial style information. This information is pretty small and out the way, and as the game is demonstrating I can’t just…stop and read it. I keep dying if I do that. I’m sure the nicely rendered mental hospital with it’s creepy wheel chairs and blood soaked corridors would have made for great atmosphere right away if I hadn’t died two to three times already.

More atmosphere is attempted with creepy dark rooms, great creepy noises around you (I played the game in 5.1 surround) and more blood, creepy objects and only giving you a torch to begin with. While this is great, the first “Ah, Jesus!” scare is… a loud noise. Imagine my lack of being impressed… There’s a mini boss pretty early on, and while at the beginning I wasn’t sure if I was dying as I haven’t played Dead Space in a while…well, how good I am doesn’t change the fact that I keep running out of ammo to kill one thing. And this is only normal? With three more difficulty levels above this one? A couple of more deaths later and I’m already tired of the drawn out death sequences Isaac goes through. So not only is all the horror down the toilet because I keep dying…it’s determined to take its time when I die.

It’s a real shame so far, because all the atmosphere adding elements: creepy static looping TVs, flickering lights, noises and whispering and your creepy dead girlfriend – really nice atmospheric sets, are just ruined by the crap difficulty set up. A couple of monster cupboards (really?) later and it’s starting to feel long. But I’m not sure it’s really long in a good way – chapter three to four in and all I’ve done so far is run away from a hospital. It’s taken so god damn long because I keep dying.

Then it turned into Dante’s Inferno with huge swarms of creepy dead babies (wave o’ bahbeeees) and I died some more. However, I am (maybe) getting somewhere. I’m going to the church to meet some people. The Unitologist living space gives off a very nice creepy cult vibe and we start to find more text and audio logs about the Unitologist church, laying on the evil church vibe with some ‘Indoctrination rooms’. However the creepy deserted church is soon ruined by the return of monsters pretending to be dead on the floor. It’s just as predictable as before (a fully intact monster really shouldn’t be on the floor) and no less lame.

Getting up to chapter six out of fifteen and we finally meet the people we’ve been trying to get to since chapter one. And surprise surprise the people hiding in the evil church are EVIL! Kill me now…(no wait, the game’s done that at least twenty times by now). Getting through the church, the Necros that ‘play’ with you, while annoying are at least more interesting than the standard Necromorph. And they sound a bit cute. Another interesting mechanic (at least in my opinion) is that while I’m now back tracking away from the evil church now, the locations have changed. The corridors are darker, and more destroyed, with symbols and things written all over the place. I don’t know if we’re supposed to assume it’s the Necros but I’m not sure how that would work. Anyway, I think it’s nice they went to that extra effort at least and I’m not just stomping down the same metal corridors a la Dead Space 1.

In another location channelling the spirit of Silent Hill, we’re visiting the creepy primary school! I actually quite liked this location, it didn’t have as many enemies, apart from a frustrating section near the end, and the atmosphere is great. It’s a pity the location is quite short. You also have another encounter with your creepy dead girlfriend and strangely Isaac is getting more…conversational (?) with her. Some more game channelling later, in the form of a shopping mall that is very Bioshock and some clearly just a face hugger from alien necromorphs and we’re putting up with the ‘Future expansion’ windows that you can break then conveniently seal. Whenever these are around unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like a suggestion to use the window – you can basically only use the window or you die. Surprise surprise the game is killing you for not doing the exact right thing.

A couple of location changes later and we get to the real set piece of the game. Isaac revisits the USG Ishimura that’s been docked here. Leading up to going inside is a great feeling of calm and dread before the storm. You re-explore the ship, going through all the locations in the previous game, now mostly neatly wrapped and taped away. It’s actually quite eerie. The ship gets darker and more exposed the further you explore, pointing a big finger of metaphor at the ‘Oh, he’s going back in his memories, and they get darker and darker.’ Again like the school, there are less enemies – it feels like they wanted you to experience this location, not just run through it screaming and shooting (and dying). Couldn’t more of the game have been like this? I think it would have been much better.

Now we’re getting near the end however, and the atmosphere and story aren’t the main concern any more. I’m having to go through location after location crawling through with barely any health or ammo. This doesn’t really feel like it should be the difficulty one above the easiest. It’s far too frustrating to be enjoyed. I’m just running through rooms with enemies because that seems to be the best way to save ammo and health – once I get to a room with a save point, a bench or a shop – I pretty much know I’m safe. This is wandering dangerously close to Silent Hill Shattered Memories level of not scary – when it’s predicable, it just doesn’t do it for me.

Then, after a frankly underwhelming ending (I won’t spoil that at least) the game ends and promptly rewards you with…a harder difficulty! (Die in a fire….) And the promise of another (cash in) sequel after the credits.

In short!
It really is a shame what they’ve done to the game. The few parts of the game with actual pacing and atmosphere are in no way worth the crawl through the game. Any enjoyment from the really great sound or graphics is lost in the fact that I keep dying. And on normal difficulty. I know I’m not the best at games, but I have been playing them for long enough to know my way around a game pad. So, all I can assume is that they really just designed this game for people wanting to play a really hard game to some how show off…which I just don’t understand. Restarting the game in easy, and it’s…well…painfully easy! These difficulties are just too far apart, it seems unreasonable and I hope people who play this ‘for the challenge’ get thumb cramp from this crap thing.

14 thoughts on “Dead Space 2 – it’s just crap

  1. Obviously we’ve talked about this game already, but it really does sound like the creative teams’ tenuous grasp of good horror has been lost for almost this entire game.

    The bigger question, for me, is whether the storyline really supports this sequel as anything more than the cheap cash-in it seems to be. Y’know, in exactly the same way BioShock 2 and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 didn’t!

    Because if it follows in BioShock 2’s footsteps, I am pretty much dismissing it as a £35 multiplayer expansion and nothing more.

    • Michaela

      Considering almost the whole plot is Isaac running away…then running some more….then the crap end…no I wouldn’t say it’s enough to justify the sequel. And then at the end of the ds2 credits…”we don’t mind that that happened in that station…there are at least 14 more with markers…” *sigh*

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  5. I’m up to chapter 6 on normal difficulty and haven’t died once yet… I haven’t ran out of ammo either… You COULD have enjoyed some of the areas, found the ammo and such… But when you come into a game expecting not to like it… Well… It turns your “review” into nothing but negativity. I enjoy the game for what it is, a creepy, suspenseful game, that doesn’t let you run through it like an immortal God, like real games from NES… I am actually hoping I can see some of these awesome death scenes I’ve heard about, I guess I gotta stop being so accurate with that plasma cutter huh? Either way, this review is your opinion. I just disagree with your complaints… And how did you even die on the first part? It seemed impossible to die on that…

    • Michaela

      Unfortunately, you mostly sound like you’re boasting about being able to play a hard game. Good for you if you’re into that sort of thing, but I’m not – I was never into stroking my own gamer ego. The game did have cheap and repetitive deaths. I died on the first part because I went the wrong way, while stuck in a straight jacket and something crashed through a wall and killed me. I can’t magically know the right way, and it gives you very little leeway then. I’m really not the only person to point out this dying in the opening scene thing. Thanks for your comment anyway.

  6. JohnnyMc

    Don’t know why I just read most of your post and it’s just a load of [] to be honest..I’m playing dead space2 now for the 1st time and don’t see much wrong with it part from needing more games go i’ts up to the player to be entertained and if youre just goin to find fault’s in every single aspect then you’re just a []!! ahhaha

    • Michaela

      It isn’t up to the player to ‘decide’ to be entertained by a game…or everyone would decide to be massively entertained by something like Solitaire and never buy a new game again – which would be a terrible idea.

      I don’t find fault with every single aspect of the game – but overall I do find the game poor, yes.

      Insults don’t round out an argument, for future reference. Thanks for the comment.

  7. Frank

    I bought DS2 a while ago, played three hours, then quit because I got bored. I decided to give it another go and again after only a few hours I’m bored.

    I’m not having any issues with difficulty, and I’m really not stroking my gamer ego either, it’s just not particularly hard if you can actually aim. Seriously on Normal you can pretty much just use melee and forgo any of the projectile weapons.

    The game is just too predictable with cheap shocks like enemies pretending to be corpses. The control system is naff, why do I have to use aim to use kinesis?

    The game, even now, is still buggy. I got to the train jump section and keep dying. A quick search on Google shows this is a common problem with suggestions of remapping keys, downgrading resolution, mashing the button you need to mash, not mashing the button you need to mash, zzzz alt-f4 and uninstalled.

    • Elmario


      While I liked the first Dead Space (opposed to the octopus), as well know that Amnesia and Penumbra are lightyears ahead in regards of horror, the second Dead Space was just bullshit. I really have to wonder, why it got hayped so much, not only by magazines, but also my many people i know in personal.
      This lead me to the impression, that years of conatinuations really bad and repetitive games have brainwashed most gamers to an amount, that they don’t even know anymore, what a good game can be like.

  8. Akuvius

    Is this article a bait? I know I write some 5 years too late, but I find this criticism rather ridiculous. Dead Space 2 does many things right, and even if one doesn’t like the game, it’s a solid 7.5 game -at the very least-. There’s a lot of undeniable quality in this game, whether you personally like it or not. To me this doesn’t seem like an objective review at all, but purely an opinion, a cry out of frustration. I didn’t find the game hard at all, and I’m hardly a good gamer. There was so much ammo in normal difficulty that you really need to miss most of your shots if you’re lacking ammo. Besides, kinesis is an effective tool in this game, not to mention you have stasis aka godmode. Seriously, how do you die in this game?

    Personally I found that DS2, while it had only minor changes, it had improved a lot since the first game. I found the pacing much more seamless and mission structure much less repetitive, or at least it was more subtle about it. I can’t quite pinpoint the reason, but this second game doesn’t quite feel as ‘tense’ or scary as the first one, even though it now has darker levels – maybe that’s one thing I could consider a downgrade.

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