How Dead Space 2 drops the ball (spoilers)
If I keep writing posts like this people are going to think I hate Dead Space 2, which is absolutely not the case. I thought it was an absolutely brilliant game. It doesn’t necessarily do anything new, but Dead Space 2 is still survival horror at its finest: the gameplay is delivered with absolute conviction, its set-pieces are as exhilarating as they come, and the taut atmosphere is almost, almost maintained right the way through to the end.
I say almost, because during its last few hours Dead Space 2 really does drop the ball. Instead of being a tense, atmospheric, well-paced game of creeping terror and panic-inducing firefights, it becomes little more than a shooting gallery. Rooms, corridors, gantries and hallways just full of Necromorph after Necromorph after Necromorph. You know the way you can have too much of a good thing, or the way a repeated confrontation with something makes it less terrifying with each encounter? That’s pretty much what happened with me at the end of Dead Space 2. Visceral stopped bothering with the brilliant set-pieces that had made me want to stand up and applaud at the beginning of the game. It stopped crafting those excellent, creepily disquieting lulls that prefaced the piercing moments of action. There were very few zero-g sections or jaunts outside in the vacuum of space which remain, ironically, some of the most atmospheric moments in gaming. There was just combat, combat, and more combat, and Dead Space 2 became the one thing I never expected from it. It became a slog (ok, there was that one short but awesome moment with the needle, but I won’t spoil it here).
And then I got to the final boss battle and it was…weird. I was hoping for a momentous battle inside and outside of The Sprawl against a terrifying, towering Necromorph. Instead I fought Isaac’s own subconcious and a bunch of inky little imps. Oh, and I shot at a big glowing heart. It felt ridiculous, and a disappointing finale to a game that had done so, so well for its first eight or nine hours.
It got me thinking about the rest of the game, and how little it makes sense. What exactly had Isaac been doing for three years? How involved was he with the making of the Marker? Why did he forget everything that had happened to him? What was the convergence event at the end? Maybe these are questions we’re not yet supposed to have answers to. But I have more. Where were all the boss battles, for instance? I don’t count that last one as a proper boss battle given that it was so poor, and other than that there was nothing that even tried to match the turret sections or epic encounter with the Leviathan from the original game.
I’m going to stop writing this blog post now. I’m making myself sound like I hate Dead Space 2 when in reality the complete opposite is true. I just wish a little more of the uniquness that personified the game’s opening hours had also appeared in its closing few, rather than just settling for a constant stream of enemies that became a bore to destroy.