Tuesday, February 15, 2011

tl;dr the game sucks.

When I first played Dead Space, I was enamored almost immediately. The graphics were amazing, the story, while not terribly original, was still awesome and I really fell into it with Isaac Clarke. So it is fair to assume that I was all about the thought of a sequel. I wanted to know what happened after Nicole's apparition jumps out at you on the small freighter you escaped on. I often wondered aloud to friends if it would measure up. When it came time, I reserved the Collectors Edition and when the day came, stood in line with plenty of “gamer” type people much to my chagrin. The kind of people that were actually surprised when the story twisted in Call of Duty: Black Ops and you found out you were just crazy. The kind of people that said Halo is the best shooter ever and wore Final Fantasy shirts. Yeah, those kinds of people. I picked it up (2nd in line, thank you very much) and ran across the street to my apartment in excitement. Turning off all the lights, I inserted the disc into my PS3 and was ready to freakin' go.
I got to the end of chapter 1 and was enthralled. It seemed good enough and the first part sucked me in and was fun. I was tough-talking Necromorphs as I smacked them in the face with my flashlight. “Come at me, Bros!” I'd exclaim while hearing the crunch.It was there when I noticed the first change in the series. The melee works, and well. The “let's get the hell away” feel was still there and I was lost in the fog of space war. I had to break to sleep for school and then I would pick it up the next day. This is when I started to really see how flawed this game is.

The story

I am a huge fan of game stories. I love intricate plots like Biggie liked making paper (and saturated fats). But in this game, there is no story. The first 5 chapters of the game are literally Isaac trying to get to a mysterious woman on the Sprawl. The end of most chapters results in you finding a way to get to her, then having it destroyed by a giant flesh monster. Ok, I get it. I don't need it 4 times.
This is where the first theme of Repetitiveness set in. SPOILEROnce you get to the chick and find out (obviously) that she is a unitologist, she gets killed along with everyone else in the room minus you in an anticlimactic way. If the scene stood alone, it would be cool but it doesn't., At this point in time, you've blown out windows and had the vacuum suck out your enemies so many times, it's not interesting anymore. After that some other stuff happens, you get a twist in the story and you have to find the Marker and blow it up. That's literally it. The game is very vague and the story isn't really impressed unto you. I even tried to find all of the logs and didn't quite fully understand. Now, I'm no idiot, but I paid attention and still didn't really get why I was doing things. In the first game, each story objective had purpose; find the tram, repair the tram, find the radar tower to repair to send out a distress signal, etc... This one was just “run over here, now run this way, now don't wig out at your dead girlfriends ghost and try and live." It was lame. Then, after that, you're made to care about some chick you met 20 minutes ago. You find and destroy the marker in an annoying fashion and poof, the end. Then after the credits, add a conversation between two voices over the phone that is exactly how Ocelot and the President talk at the end of Metal Gear Solid. Wow, this game has me hooked. There are numerous holes, like why you don't just melee the necromorph that kills the guy as you try and pull out the plasma cutter. Why couldn't you pin the nemesis to the wall like you could every one else at the end?

The gameplay

The game play started off super fun. The parts where you're running around without a gun was fun, suspenseful and good to get you into the game. The times where Isaac falls down the train was awesome and how you fought upside down was good too. Then I realized that I just paid money to play God of War again as I flew through the air. Was it fun, yeah it was but it got old and was not true to the theme of the character. Remember how I said it was repetitive? Pay attention and you'll see that you've gone down the exact same hallway, corridor and elevator about 6 times. I counted. Even the bigger rooms were all the same! The church where you fight the big necromorph was the same as the arena area where you encounter the raptors for the first time, they just added pillars.
The fights are linear and the same every time. Some necromorphs climb over a railing and chase you from behind. I tried one fight one time where I just spun in circles and wasn't touched once. Predictable is also the next complaint of mine. You could walk into a room or elevator and say to yourself that you can tell a fight is coming, and you will be right every time. They even have a wide open elevator, which to any real video game player says, “oh I'm about to get ambushed”. Again, you'd be right. The problem with the game's scare practices is that it differed too much from the first game. In the first, the power would cut out a few times and the room would go black. You got freaked and held up your flashlight everywhere. Silhouettes would dance around the edges of your light and make you think there was something there. The scary part was that sometimes you weren't attacked so you still knew they were there. That whole scheme probably happened about 4 times in the first. In Dead Space 2, the whole game was patronizingly dark. There was almost no light, and every room was as dark as my friend Sid. Enemies would always attack behind you so you knew to never shoot the way you looked when you first walked into a room. Music would blast and violins would screech with the water phones when an enemy would appear. The game is filled with jack in the box type surprises and dark rooms. After awhile, it cries wolf and becomes laughably mechanical. You'll see a vent and think, something is about to pop out of there. Sure enough... 

They changed the controls slightly in a way that was not needed. I was shooting kinetic beams when meaning to shoot stasis fields into my enemies. This is just lazy programming when coupled with the repeated levels. The whole game is so very linear that it makes no sense. We're on a gigantic space station that takes a large portion of a moon and yet, we're playing a corridor shooter. It's a third person Call of Duty, fantastic. I remember playing a survival horror game before that was on a space station that was the furthest from a corridor shooter. It was called Doom 1 and 2. That came out in the early 90's. 20 years later, They've gotten lazy.

The Characters

I am most pissed about what they did to Isaac. In the first, he was a terrified engineer that was a laborer and rough dude. He was silent, but moved with a purpose and spoke with his actions. He was beefy and older. When he removed his helmet in the end, he had grey hair and tired eyes. His mentality was one of getting off the ship and running away if he needed to survive. He wasn't an anti-hero and he most certainly wasn't reluctant but he only did what he needed to get off of the Ishimura. In this second installment, he has been transformed into Jason Flemming, Indiana Jones, Leon and every other bravado laced character that makes quick comments and has a quicker gun. They took at least 10 years off of Isaac, and made him lean. His voice was ok but he had a very different demeanor about him. Then comes in the chick, Ellie. She couldn't figure out if she was Australian or English, nor could she figure out if she was a softy girl or a sassy bitch. Have you seen this type of female character before? Yeah you have. In every other game to have a female that fights along with you. I don't really need to describe the teenager anymore.

The New Necromorphs

Seriously video game developers, ENOUGH WITH THE DAMN BABIES! There are 5 different types of babies in this game. Some shoot at you and others explode. Little children don't scare anyone except my ex-girlfriend and people who haven't seen the humor in horror movies. There were 2 levels with toddler music that still wasn't scary and they introduced more baby enemies. Swarming you and crawling around. Then came the raptors. They were good enough at first but then they just got annoying. They would charge you and do a stupid amount of damage to you, they peek their heads around corners (which are easy to shoot and prematurely end any plans they have) and just are there to annoy you. The new brute enemy was alright but easily defeatable unlike in the first. I felt like I was playing starfox after awhile because I was just shooting the colored part of the enemy that would become exposed. Add a Mass Effect 2 type ending boss and you've got the enemies. They're all annoying and unnecessary.

If you hadn't played the first game, or any other game for that matter, it would seem to be a solid game. But it's not. Dead Space 2 is a terrible game and not worth getting excited over. There is certainly no need to pay $60+ dollars for a poorly redone amalgamation of genre'd games. It is not nearly as scary as the first. In fact, it's not at all. If this game scares you, then you must've been terrified when you saw sackboy running in the dark in LBP.  Basically, don't buy it. Please.  

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