For many of the crew at GamingExcellence, Dead Space has become one of the preeminent horror franchises in all of video gaming. Couple a gritty Alien-esque Sci-Fi setting with a strong storyline and intelligent scares, and it's easy to see why the newest scary kid on the block has so fully captured the imagination of horror fans. Disregarding the incredibly long lines to see the game at EA's massive E3 2010 booth, we came away incredibly impressed with what Dead Space 2 is bringing to the survival horror table.
The demo we saw had the protagonist from the original, Isaac Clarke, navigating his way through the Church of Unitology from the first game. As he navigates frozen corridors, it wasn't long until we got a glimpse at the new weapons and strategies available for combat, including use of the kinesis module. In the sequel, players still have to strategically dismember their enemies, but there's more to it than that this time around. Now you can use Isaac's kinesis to slice off limbs off slashers and then fire their own razor sharp limbs against them to conserve ammo as just one example. Another new weapon is the javelin gun, which pins enemies to walls. It was a really cool effect to see a slowed down creature with kinesis slowly speed up as they flew towards the wall.
The sequel takes place in a massive city called the Sprawl, which allows for a much greater variety in the environments over the claustrophobic space ship from the original game. The Sprawl is a beautiful city that features churches, schools, a full transit system, and other amenities you'd find in a city. The environments are varied, but the game remains focused instead of an open world.
One of the most unique aspects of the original was its zero gravity sections. In the original, you were pinned down in zero gravity to a surface like a wall, floor, or ceiling. The sections were great, but it's a little more limited system in hindsight than we initially though. This time around, you can fly around with a full 360 degree freedom of motion, much like the classic shooter Descent. The section seemed to control smoothly, and gives Dead Space 2 a truly unique hook in the horror genre.
The demo we watched featured some incredibly intense scripted moments that have you being dragged to impending doom by various mutated Necromorphs. In fact, the last five minutes of the demo has Clarke being chased by an enormous Necromorph and a gun ship that fires through the vacuum proof windows of the Sprawl. As Isaac gets sucked out into the void, he manages to catch onto the ship, only to be attacked again in the vacuum by the creature, Aliens style. The intensity during these sections was enough to get our heart rate up to dangerous levels. Dead Space 2 does not disappoint in the action department.
It bears mentioning as well that Dead Space 2 looks simply incredible in terms of graphics and presentation. The gore effects in particular have been ramped up, with blood that flows out realistically and looks spectacular in zero gravity as it lazily floats in mid air. Limbs and body parts fly off right where they are hit, and watching an enemy get blown apart and splattering the walls simply does not get old. Isaac himself is rendered with astonishing beauty, and the environments are detailed and varied, even in the short 20 minute demo we saw. In a neat touch in the audio department, Isaac now speaks, and isn't the faceless order taker he was in the first game. Getting the player attached to the main character can only make the fear more palatable.
We were so blown away with our demo of the game that we've nominated it for a slew of categories in our annual Best of E3 awards. The release date for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows versions on January 25, 2011 can't come soon enough.