Isaac returns in Dead Space 2.

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JOYSTICK: Plenty of scares in the dark of Dead Space 2

Published 5:00pm Saturday, January 29, 2011

Those with a weak heart shouldn’t play Dead Space 2.

The sequel to the 2007 smash hit, this monster masher gets your blood up within the first two seconds of a new game and doesn’t let go.

The game revolves around Isaac Clarke, a former space repairman who wandered onto the wrong giant spaceship in the first Dead Space to look for his lost girlfriend. While the first game’s cliffhanger ending could’ve left Isaac dead at the hands of freaky space mutants, called necromorphs, Isaac’s back as a troubled man in a mental facility in the second.

Relying on the same type of spook-scare tactics as typical slasher movies, the action is quick, with very little room to breathe. There’s all sorts of sights and sounds to make you jump, especially at the very beginning where players have to run full keel past dozens of scary mutants waiting to dismember them.

DS 2 plays a lot like the first. Players get the same power-ups, as the first game, like slowing down enemies and telekinesis, along with the awesome weaponry like laser cannons, flamethrowers and other fun toys. The enemies have to be killed the same way, by dismembering limbs rather than just shooting a weak point.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the game. The controls respond well, it has terrific graphics and has an incredibly eerie and terrifying ambiance to it that’s really, really spooky. Some of the puzzles are quite difficult. The third-person over-the-shoulder camera can get a little wonky and players will definitely have to rely on sound at times to gauge how many mutants they’re actually up against, as monsters will sneak up at the most inopportune times.

The major problem with this game is how self-aware its premise is. A dead-looking mutant suddenly rising up and attacking you is scary for the first 47 times, but afterwards there really has to be a different approach here. In addition, players trade cool powers for basic survival moves like crouching and sidesteps, which many third-person action shooters have incorporated in recent years.

Despite some kooky camera work, a few repetitious scares and a severe lack of survival common sense, Dead Space 2 is definitely worth buying if you’re looking for an intense scare.

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