Eurogamer Expo 2010: Dead Space 2 Hands-On Impressions

by on October 7, 2010

The original Dead Space, released in October 2008, was (and still is) a fantastic survival-horror game. The team at EA Redwood Shores (now known as Visceral Games) created a deeply atmospheric and, at times, disturbing game. It would be fair to say most people didn’t expect them to create a product this good, but they defied the odds and delivered an engaging experience.

After the success of the original (which spawned a rather good Wii spin-off) it was inevitable that gamers would be eventually getting their hands on Dead Space 2. However, with the game not due out until January 2011, last week’s Eurogamer Expo was the perfect opportunity to get some early hands on time with EA’s scare fest and (as usual) we were there to check it out.

If you’ve been keeping up to date with news regarding Dead Space 2, you will know that players will once again take control of Isaac Clarke as he trudges around “The Sprawl”. However, this time around he seems to have got over his shyness and finally decided to open that mouth of his. Is this a good thing or a bad thing though? Well, to be honest, it’s really hard to tell at the moment. In the trailers he sounds fine, but at the Eurogamer Expo it was really hard to judge if it added anything to the game, as the sound was drowned out by the surrounding noise.

There's always one who can't handle their alcohol!

Now, if you have played the original Dead Space or any other survival-horror game, you will know that sound plays a huge part in building the atmosphere and tension, which compliments the gameplay. When playing at the Eurogamer Expo it was really hard to feel any sense of dread or uneasiness. It was also really hard to hear what Isaac was saying or what he was being told, which in turn made solving a couple of simple puzzles in the demo unnecessarily difficult. Some headphones at the stations would have made it much easier to get a true feeling of what the game is trying to achieve.

Looking past that though, Dead Space 2 plays and looks almost exactly like the original game. The concept of strategic dismemberment still remains paramount and you have abilities such as stasis to help you along the way. Visually, the game still has that “wow” factor. At times, you can’t help but pan the camera around to take a look at Isaac in that sexy looking suit of his. Come on, you know it’s true! The fact that there is no traditional HUD and everything you need to know is displayed on Isaac’s suit still works wonderfully well.

Be gone demon child, be gone!

The demo that was on offer was quite short, consisting of a couple of puzzle sections and some combat against the nasty necromorphs. Yes, those pesky necromorphs are back and have brought along some new friends with them too. The “Puker” is one new enemy most of you have probably seen, but for those who haven’t, it does exactly what the name suggests! Even its severed limbs spray out acidic puke, so it is highly recommended to attack this creature from a reasonable distance. Next up is the “Stalker”, probably the cleverest necromorph of all. Stalkers won’t attack you in a one-on-one situation. They will work together and try to flank you, waiting for that opportunity to attack you with their razor sharp claws. To add to that, they keep their limbs tucked behind them for protection. Finally, we have the creepy looking and highly dangerous “Crawler”. These horribly mutated babies move in numbers and they travel very quickly. If you don’t deal with them efficiently and let them overwhelm you, a quick and painful death awaits you.

Stop floating around, lazy bugger!

The fantastic zero gravity sections also make a return from the original game, but this time around they play a much bigger role in solving puzzles. It can be a bit disorientating when you initially take control of Isaac in one these sections, but spend a minute or two getting used to the controls and you’ll be ok. The demo at the Eurogamer Expo actually ended with a zero gravity section, which we won’t be ruin for you here, but it’s safe to say it was really well done and highly enjoyable…exhilarating, even.

Going by what was on show in the demo at the Eurogamer Expo, Dead Space 2 is shaping up to be a rather awesome survival-horror game. It would have been nice to play the game in quieter surroundings (or with headphones) so the atmosphere and tension could be felt, but even without those elements the quality gameplay on offer in Dead Space 2 shone through. It’s fair to say, if you enjoyed the original then you will most definitely want to take a trip aboard The Sprawl come January 2011.