Having been dispatched to the USG Ishimura after all communications with the ship has been lost, he and a small team are tasked with finding out what happened to the vessel in the hopes that he can be reunited with Nicole, the medical officer with whom he is in love and misses dearly.
After exploring nearly the entire ship, completing numerous tasks in an effort to survive, Isaac visits the planet where the entire ordeal originated in the first place, places the Marker (an ancient artifact that keeps the Necromorphs in check), back onto its original pedestal, defeats a big-ass boss and then blasts into space, finally taking the opportunity to relax. But can he…?
Three years have passed since the events of Dead Space and Isaac has found himself committed to a mental institution on Titan Station, a human colony established on Saturn’s moon, due to a form of dementia unique to victims of The Marker. With no memory of the last few years, and a fresh outbreak of the infection engulfing the station, the quick-thinking engineer must step up to the plate and use any means necessary to survive and escape. Again. He just can’t seem to catch a break.
You begin the game constricted in a straitjacket during the confusion and panic of the initial outbreak. After a sickening, flesh-twisting introduction to the new strain of Necromorphs, you run in a blind panic through the asylum, trying desperately to find a way out amidst all the carnage and chaos. This bleak opening sets the theme for the rest of the game, as you’ll witness and confront a whole host of terrifying and nauseating events over the course of the game.
A new outbreak brings new forms of infected and some forms are absolutely terrifying. Stalkers showcase the intelligence that certain Necromorphs now possess, hunting in packs and staying out of sight, peeking out from behind walls before disappearing again when you point your flashlight on them, only to charge you when your back is turned. You can’t ready your weapon quickly enough when confronting them. The Pack and Crawlers also add a macabre slant to the enemies. Let’s just say that you’ll never feel at ease in a nursery or playschool again.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Dead Space title if Isaac wasn’t subjected to a plethora of sickening death sequences, and the second game doesn’t disappoint. The orthodox deaths involving numerous decapitations and amputations are a given, but it’s with the new Necromorphs that some of the most nauseating are created. Let a Puker get too close for example, and he’ll vomit his acidic spew all over you, causing you to regurgitate and violently convulse until you collapse a lifeless heap on the ground, while Stalkers charge you, rip your arm off, slam you until you’re unconscious then drag you off to do God knows what with you later. It’s highly recommended that you avoid this if you’re a big fan of your eyes. If these visceral scenes don’t shock you, then nothing will.
The worst (best?) part of it is, as scary as the Necros are, they’re not the most terrifying element of the game. The winner of that crown is Isaac’s own mind. Crippled by dementia and haunted by the ghost of his girlfriend, the scenes involving her are regularly the most genuinely frightening. Their sudden arrival, heralded only by an unexpected orange tinge on the screen, regularly keeps you on your toes.
It’s a good thing, then that, much like in the first game, Isaac isn’t going to go down without a fight. Despite the horrific things happening around him, the engineer’s once again determined to survive, using every tool at his disposal, including weapons that fire electrified javelins, the high calibre Seeker Rifle and the ever-handy plasma cutter, making him just as badass as he was in the first game. His newly-found voice only adds to his attitude. The rage with which he sometimes speaks highlighting that he’s not afraid of the awful events going on around him. His expletive-fuelled ranting during a fervent stomping session seems to almost serve as catharsis for him and, in extension, the player. Well, that and the ludicrous gibbing of Necromorphs, of course. It’s with this fearlessness and range of weaponry that you’re compel to move on, despite the fact that something hideous may be waiting for you right around the next corner.
Dead Space 2 takes everything that was great about the original – the sense of constant, underlying fear, the satisfying combat and immersive, diegetic interface – and cranks it up to eleven. Subtle touches lend a foreboding air to proceedings, while the fact that there’s also a decent multiplayer offering alongside the gloriously stomach-turning story mode also makes it a title that will have you playing long after the main adventure has concluded. A terrifying thrill ride that never loses pace and comes highly recommended – if you think you can stomach it, of course.
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