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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.

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  • Sean

    Chris, I would also agree with this. I too love Dead Space 2 (completed it over the weekend) but its set-pieces and tension really did die out and it just became too shooty towards the end of the game.

    I was also still thinking about halfway through the campaign “there should be a boss battle next” that were stand out moments in Dead Space 1, but it didn’t come to fruition. All I got was a rather dissappointing fight against Isaac’s subconcious.

    And it is annoying that many questions weren’t answered, but I’m sure we’ll find out in Dead Space 3, if it will happen (I’m sure it will, it’s EA)

    I better shut up now, because I sound like I don’t like Dead Space 2, which also isn’t the case.

  • Twitch

    I actually didn’t mind the shooting gallery feel as the story went on, it reminded me the sprawl was meant to be a large city. With tension being held in other parts of the game, especially aboard the Ishimura, it really didn’t bother me. I liked the contrast.

    As for the ending, now that I agree on. It was generic to say the least. Although I am curious about the convergence. Part of me wonders if all that flesh and bone was just going to form a huge creature similar to that at the end of Dead Space. Either that of the typical scifi like portal. Either way this boss was more of a surprise, even if somewhat anticlimatic.

    I do have to say I liked the Jurassic Parkesque “second site” comment by some unknown disembodied voice. Its familiarity made me laugh a little, and so made up a little for the boss.