Monday, February 28, 2011

Dead Space 2 - more is sometimes less...

I loved Dead Space, the Xbox game. It’s just the perfect game. It’s all set on a big spaceship and you have to fight loads of Necromorphs (alien monsters made from dead bodies). Necromorphs are a supposedly different kind of enemy and you’re apparently meant to dismember them to kill them, shoot its limbs off one by one – but you can actually just shoot at it in a terrified frenzy (like I do) and it’s all good. DS1 is just such a neat little game (the only problem being that you can play it again, but you can’t change your difficulty level – d’oh – which is a bit of an oversight. So if you get tons of weapons and ammos and want to save them and try them out on a harder level, you can’t.) In Dead Space 1, you faff around doing all sorts of tasks and then you need to get to the ship’s tram, where you finish the level, and then you whiz about from place to place (different chapters) on the tram – cool.
I was very excited to get Dead Space 2 – I’m not a massive gamer and I rarely buy games when they first come out – just wait til the price goes down. I had to get this one though.
It’s a great game – very long and epic (in a way that Resident Evil 4 was long and epic and had many layers), and there are some interesting new monsters – the ‘Puker’ who pukes acid at you, Velociraptor-style aliens who corner you and run at you, and weird wall-hanging pus blob-monsters who spit acid-pus at you if you don’t see them. Worst of all, there are little demon kids who come at you in hordes and slash at you with nasty claws. Oh wait, actually there is something worse – the wailing necromorph babies, who pulsate and crawl at you and then explode…
Everyone seems to be saying that it is the perfect game and giving it rave reviews, but I have to say, I was a bit disappointed by it. I’ll tell you what happened – I saw a picture of it online – a pic of the main guy, Isaac, on a bright, neon-y train, and I thought ‘cool! So it’s gonna have a different setting – maybe a planet city or something’. But no! That photo was just a brief moment of the game, really unrepresentational – d’oh! DS2 pretty much has the same setting as the last game, hmmm.
So the settings are pretty samey – although there are some nice variations towards the end. There are so many cool different locations and set pieces in the first game – the medical bay, gardening area, etc – but most of the DS2 locations seem very similar thoughout. One level is set back on the ship from the first game. And this is one of the main problems of this game – you spend ages running around the Ishimura ship, just running down corridors – and nothing happens for ages! It’s very suspenseful when you first play it - anything could jump out at you - but on the 2nd time, you do twiddle your thumbs a bit – and that’s quite typical of DS2. You wonder if they could have been a bit more inventive with it.
Another thing I noticed is that the puzzles and set pieces are very disappointing. There really isn’t much to them – most of them just involve putting a fire extinguisher thing onto a surface and shooting it to gain access to somewhere. The games and set pieces of the first game seemed so much more fun and complex! Also, there’s a slightly annoying regular puzzle – you have to spin a wheel on a device and press down when it turns blue three times – it’s just not that difficult! Also the final challenge slightly fizzles out – it’s not that hard when you know what to do.
Another disappointment is the lack of tram from point to point – it’s not in this game! It was always really cute, plus the good thing was that it gave you a clear ‘break’ in the game. There aren’t really any breaks in DS2, it’s just one big rollercoaster.
Even the new outfits you can buy in the Shop aren’t that exciting…
It’s also interesting how they try to develop the main guy, Isaac, and the situation with Nicole, his dead girlfriend. It’s okay, I guess, but didn’t really blow me away. I like the new character Ellie, though, and hopefully she’ll be in the next game.
There are some cool new elements though. There’s a new detonator weapon, which is great fun – and very effective against the Velicoraptor style aliens. You can either plant a mine on the floor, or put a mine-line between walls, so a monster will explode when it runs at you. Or you can just fire it at an enemy and make it explode! Also great is the fact you can fly in zero gravity with thrusters – that is so cool! Some people say the Javelin Gun is good too – although I didn’t really use it.
There are a couple of nasty shocks too. The Regenerator monster from DS1 returns near the end – and that is just horrible! Seriously, I had to stop playing the game for a week, because I just couldn’t face it! And there’s a nasty surprise after you take an optional trip into one store-room – when you come out, one of the most HORRIBLE monsters from the first game comes at you… (he just comes at you non-stop, and when you kill him, these horrible skull creatures detach from him and attack you…) In fact, in general, there are tons and tons of monsters, and often they’ll attack you all in one go, relentlessly, one after another – making the game really hard. It’s intense and can be difficult – but I’m not sure it makes the game better than the creepy first version. DS2 is bigger and louder and nastier than the first game, but I don’t think that necessarily makes it better. DS1 was Alien, and DS2 is Aliens (and Alien is my favourite movie of all time!).
It sounds like I hated this game – I didn’t hate it, but I was definitely a bit disappointed by it (but not as disappointed as I was by Resident Evil 5). I hope they do a DS3 and I really hope they set it on a planet or colony or something. One thing the game did make me want to do, was play the first game again – shame I couldn’t find it, d’oh…
Oh one final thing – the start of this game is horrific! So unsettling, as you run thru the ship in a straightjacket – being chased by aliens – no weapons or anything – arrgh!

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