Monday, December 27, 2010

Dead Space 2 Demo Impressions

Without question, Dead Space is one of the scariest games I've played this generation. Possessing an exceptional survival horror atmosphere, Dead Space had me jumping in my seat many, many times.

On January 25th, the sequel will launch on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC, but a week ago a fully playable demo was released to the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and PlayStation Store. Naturally, I had to download it and fire it up right away.

Suffice it to say, EA has certainly kept the creepy and tense feel of the original title. Surviving the horrors of the Ishimura, Isaac Clarke now finds himself aboard the Sprawl, a large station situated on one of the moons of Saturn. By means unrevealed in the demo, however, the nightmare of the Necromorphs has followed Isaac here, and the station appaears to be overrun.

The demo begins with Isaac trying to connect with other survivors, and you navigate what appears to be cryo or stasis tubes that contain Necromorphs. Of course, not all of them are frozen/dead, and it's here you'll encounter your first of the demo's new enemies, the Puker.

The controls for the sequel's demo are more or less as you'll remember from the original game, with a few tweaks here and there (Aiming and pressing "Y" now uses Stasis, for example). You can still aim, use alternate methods of fire, smash and stomp enemies, and you still have the traditional inventory and navigation tool, though the Map itself appears to be missing (which is fine since I never found it that useful anyway).

The demo starts Isaac with the tried-and-true Plasma Cutter, which I used for almost the entire demo, and also features the return of the Pulse Rifle (which now features a grenade secondary fire) and the Line Gun. The new weapon in the demo is the Javelin Gun, which I never bothered to fire once. Well, I am a proud owner of the One Gun Achievement.

The Plasma Cutter, combined with Stasis, was great for taking down Pukers, Slashers, and the new Slasher Monk, but when faced with the Pack, a group of children turned Necromorph, the rapid fire assault of the Pulse Rifle saw me through.

While you collect Credits all over, you only encounter one store in the demo and it only features the Advanced Suit, which happens to cost $0. What's cool in Dead Space 2 is not only will Isaac now talk, but we'll also get to see his face much more often, as demonstrated when he decks out in his new Advanced Suit.

A great boss battle against the Tripod is also featured, which was very reminiscent of the Tentacles from the original game, only much more epic and somewhat disgusting. Definitely a nice, tense moment.

My only major gripe with the demo, and Dead Space 2 itself, was the changes made to zero gravity. In the original game, Isaac used magnetic boots to jump to and cling to various surfaces. In the sequel, it appears he can now "fly," using little thrusters to move around. The downer is I found his movements to lack precision, and though this sequence was brief, it frustrated me and took away some enjoyment.

Still, the core of the demo was Dead Space through and through, and a wonderful survival horror experience. The environments were dark, moody, and atmosphere, and the demo's sound scape often sent chills up my spine. And yes, Necromorphs still love to pop out of random vents, amongst other places.

Less than one month until Dead Space 2 launches, and if the demo is any indication, we'll be in for one hell of a treat!

No comments: