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An Excellent Sequel

A Review On: Dead Space 2 PC Game EA

Dead Space 2 PC Game EA

Rated # 25 in PC Games
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RagingCain
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Dead Space 2 (PC) Review & Thoughts
DEAD SPACE 2 - 10 / 10

Genre: Survival Horror, 3rd Person Action/Adventure
Rated: Mature
Developer: Visceral Games
Publisher: EA Games
Release Date: January 25th, 2011

Versions: Standard, Collector's Edition

Steam Powered: Yes
Steam Collector's Edition Availability: No
Steam Game Guide Availability: Yes
Steam Achievements: No

System Requirements:
CPU: 2.8 GHz processor or equivalent
RAM: 1 GB RAM (XP), 2 GB RAM (Vista or Windows 7)
HDD: At least 10GB for installation
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 6800 or better, ATI X1600 Pro or better, 256MB, Shader Model 3.0
DirectX: 9.0c

Major Game Changes & Comments:
To begin with, this is a direct sequel to Dead Space, not just random characters at a random time in the same fictional Universe.

It’s possible to pick up the game without playing the first one, but you might not quite follow the plot as readily. If you are a Dead Space fiend like me, then you would probably have already beaten the first game, and watched both Aftermath and Downfall. It does in a way, help get everything in perspective.

The Suits:
As opposed to upgrading a single Engineering suit like in the first game, there are a variety of suits this time. Anything from a newer futuristic engineering suit, to elite armor that looks like something from Guyver 2, to an older rustic suit which almost looks like a bomb squad suit for zero-gravity. There are quite a few more, but you either have to find hidden schematics, have a saved game linked to your account from an iPhone or Wii, or beat the game on Hardcore mode.

Linear-ness:
Game is still very linear, but since it is a heavily scripted story based design it works well. This is actually a strength of the game this time around. If you are going to do a game linearly, you have to always be moving forward (having momentum.) Dead Space 2 does this, and does it well.

I had always felt that the 45 (slight exaggeration) different major system malfunctions all happening sequentially in the first title was a bit off putting and having to back track just got old after a while. That did not ever happen in Dead Space 2. While your plan gets horribly mutilated over and over, like you probably will as well, the plan gets adapted, not put on hold. I kept thinking to myself, god I am going to have to walk back through that entire nightmare just to get back on track. I thought "Man, I wishing I could just strap a rocket to my butt and fly through space to get back... and then to my surprise there is Isaac throwing himself through space on a rocket. This to me is a telltale sign of a game dev team that actually played the first title, and thought, constructively, how can we honestly improve the next one.

The Weapons:
There are a lot of weapons and the environment is more telekinesis friendly, from throwing a wheel chair at a Necromorph or to impaling a Necromorph with his own slicey dicey hands is quite satisfying. There is an addition as well to explosive devices in the Sprawl that add stasis to all items and creatures within the blast radius. There is a bigger emphasis on impaling creatures this time around, and that has to be for gore effect. The reason I came to that conclusion is that I noticed when messing around with Easy and Normal mode, the single impale is likely to one-hit kill the necromorphs, but 50 bullets to the sternum/torso doesn’t always put it down. There are a variety of new weapons such as the laser proximity mine launcher (my personal favorite), the good old style plasma cutters, pulse rifle, and quite a few others, that I won't spoil. The limit is still 4 weapons at any one time though, which is probably to cut down on the amounts of ammo you have to carry more than anything. There are definitely more save points than stores (yes they still use that... unexplained virtual store system) and even less power benches to do your upgrading.

The Graphics:
I found the artwork top notch. The graphics engine is very similar to the original Dead Space and it still uses DirectX 9.0c. They do so much with so little it really has me asking the question as to what the hell is everyone else doing with their time. The only down side due to the type of game engine they used, anti-aliasing is for the most part gone. You can't really force it in game, it requires an nVidia tweak to even get working, but I think MorphAA for ATi GPU 58xx+ can run that and it works great. If you do any AA tweak, there have been reports of Shadows not rendering AND artifacting around object edges. I decided to stick with the games natural route, and focus on the lighting and shadows. Despite with all the eye-candy, the game will run at 500 fps in some rooms, and as low (haha, low) 230 fps. On a single GPU, I managed to pull 500 fps in some rooms, and down to about 120 (my refresh rate) on occasion. This game runs great AND looks beautiful. Just about every screenshot I took, all 1,513 of them (no joke) all look like perfect desktop wallpapers. This game is a work of art.

Necro De'ja Vu?
The game is definitely a sequel over the first one, and some gamers might yawn at a few of the necromorphs coming at you, however, things quickly change, when you have no weapons... or usable arms. If that doesn’t get you a little rattled wait till you realize there is a creature throwing projectile acid vomit at you, quite accurately. You remember those necromorphs that were crawling and slow? Well apparently in the sprawl they are all on Ecstasy now and they REALLY want to kill you. Those slow crawling ninja babies were too easy to kill? Try a pack (literally an entire herd/pack of them) of dead 2nd graders coming at you (which the model seems to be somewhat inspired by Pandorum for those that know what that movie is) or new-born baby necromorphs with a pension for exploding. There are quite a few different models for each of the new species and even more from the older ones, which don’t feel like re-hashed skins, suffice to say, Visceral Games did a great job.

The Game:
The sequel also touches more on the Marker and includes some science and research into it all the while leaving it a tad mysterious. I have commented this in the forums and these levels look great. The whole game is beautiful, but its not just the engine. Its hard to notice on the old USG Ishimura, but there was a lot of time put into the environments and not just art, but some logic as well. This time around, there are larger open environments in addition to the narrowly claustrophobic dark hallways. These taller and wider environments are often filled with details, vending machines, lights, sometimes people, sometimes necromorphs, artwork, fires, sometimes even items. What you might NOT notice/realize is that you may never see that place again, and it was all there for a balcony view, or a breach through a bulkhead (wall.) This game is well made, period.

I do have a decent system, but I experienced virtually no load time with the exception of initial startup or continue from save/checkpoint (dying.) For the amount of high quality texture in the game, this was surprising a bit.

Gravity is a whole new ball game as you now have active directional controllers (well thought of) as little pressurized boosters from your suit. This allows you to control every direction you go in and it feels quite natural for the most part. One can easily get disoriented with up and down but don't worry, they have an align with floor feature which will straighten you up automatically.

Upgrading is fairly the same with two major differences. You now can pursue a special ability/enhancement on certain items, such as the plasma cutter. When you max out "Special" category, the bullets also set Necromorphs on fire. I would ruin the rest but there are quite a few guns that do have Specials when maxed, and I assume others don't so they don't get too overpowering. The other major feature added to the game is your ability to "re-spec" your power-nodes. You have stopped using a gun in favor of a bigger flashier one? For 5000 credits you can get all your power-nodes back for the re-using. Since there are not enough power-nodes in the whole game to max out EVERY weapon, this is quite invaluable.

Console port or not, it looks and runs great.

The Ending:
Although debatable, I felt this ending was much more resolute. I will not spoil the first one (or second one), but even though I liked the first one, it wasn't the most unexpected for me and I still felt there was more missing, like how/why. I didn't really feel like a ton was left out this time. I am eager to play a Dead Space 3, if it ever does come out, but it will be from the strong impressions the first two games left me, and not the fact they left me hanging at anytime. Between all the available games, animated movies, the in game text and audio logs, and occasional trip to Dead Space wiki, you can fill in the majority of the blanks, if not all.

The Multiplayer:
I did try it out for a little bit and it was fun, but its not my cup of tea to be honest. Still, there is nothing "wrong" with it, but the addictiveness was just not there for me.

Conclusion:
I gave this title a perfect 10. I got everything that I was expecting from it and I don't have any complaints personally about the game. This is a blockbuster title, beautiful despite being only DX9, unique and compelling story, its polished, and most importantly scary and better than the first!

Best Way To Play:
Good headphones, good controller, night time, no distractions, and no lights. No parents, no girlfriends, no wives, no husbands, or pets. Spoil yourself with this game for a few hours at a time uninterrupted, and I guarantee you will enjoy it, if not terrify yourself.

Worse Way To Play:
Keyboard + Mouse, Lights On, No Headphones.

System Used:
[i7 980x]
[24GB DDR3 2000 MHz]
[EVGA E770 Classified3]
[SLi PNY Geforce GTX 580 XLR8]

Headphones: I used both a Roccat Kave 5.1 and the Sennheiser HD650s. While the HD650s are the better headphones, they aren't too hot at 3D sound which they don't claim to be, and sounded great like they do in atypical stereo. They just sound anemic when trying things out with a Virtual Surround setup so I switched over to my gaming headphone. The Kave 5.1 actually have 4 independent 40mm drivers for decent simulation of surround sound. I definitely enjoyed it better with Kave 5.1 headphones. Either way you go, a pair of headphones trumps some speakers any day, use Headphones!

Controllers: PS3 Controller and a cheap $13 Logitech Dual Action Gamepad. I actually had an easier time using the Logitech, simple plug-and-play, the PS3 required a driver, which I found was incompatible with a Win64, so I had to find another driver, then it didn't have rumble feature, and then I thought why bother. NOW, thats it all setup correctly, the Six-Axis controller is a better controller and am playing the game again on Hardcore with NewGame+ and so far its better choice than the Logitech, simply because I am used to it.

The Quick Pros:
  • Runs great, has great graphics, and it is polished.
  • Good story and characters.
  • Not too long or too short ~ about 8~15 hours depending on your play style.
  • An array of difficulty levels.
  • Multiplayer.
  • No major back tracking despite being linear!
  • I didn’t have a single crash the entire time.

The Quick Cons:
  • Anti-aliasing does not work due to the type of engine they use. NOTE: Unless you try with the nVidia Inspector bit change. If you do enable AA via Inspector, you have to take Shadows down to the Normal or low.
  • The games best control method was a controller. I personally feel that a controller should always be optional to preference, there should always be a balance in the control system. I personally should add, it was a great deal better than it was with the first title, but still, plays best with a controller.
  • The keyboard wasn't able to be remap at launch but Visceral made good on its promise to add this with a patch (v1.1).
  • No crashing, but a script did fail to load at one point, which I didn't lose much trecking due to vast array of save points.

Related Media:
Movie: Event Horizon
Movie: Alien & Aliens
Movie: Pandorum
Movie: The Thing
Game: Dead Space
Game: The Thing
Game: F.E.A.R.

Links:
Overclock.NET: http://www.overclock.net/pc-games/916983-official-dead-space-2-pc-discussion.html
EA: http://deadspace.ea.com/
Wikia: http://deadspace.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

Other Reviews:
IGN: http://pc.ign.com/objects/142/14293269.html
IUP: http://www.1up.com/reviews/dead-space-2-review
GameSpot: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/deadspace2/review.html?om_act=convert&om_clk=gssummary&tag=summary;read-review

5 Comments:

You can already re-map keyboard controls since the 1.1 update. http://www.megagames.com/patches/dead-space-2-patch-11
I wrote this a year ago, just got reposted after being lost from the OCN update. I will change that from the Quick Cons.
this game is amazingly polished, and actually creeped me out at the start.
great game but needs antialiasing and 60fps vsync, if you enable vsync the game is 30fps dumb, i would rate it 8/10 very nice indeed
Sorry to hear that Sixor, I didn't have that issue, infact I had 120 Hz VSync.
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