In the year 2511 in a densely populated city called the Sprawl, Isaac Clarke wakes up wearing a straight jacket. Things are disorienting and dark. A man is standing in front of him talking quickly as if something is wrong. He's telling Isaac that he's got to get out of the Sprawl, that they've got to go now. Before he has a chance to free Isaac's bonds, a necromorph attacks the man from behind, impaling him with its razor-sharp limbs. Isaac shrugs the man and monster aside and begins running for his life, through dark and ruined corridors. All around necromorphs are appearing, snarling and pursing Isaac as he flees. So begins Dead Space 2.
The game is a direct sequel to the bestselling Dead Space. It continues the story that began with the events that happened aboard the USG Ishimura and the return of the Marker. The Church of Unitology is expanded more, as is the science and culture of the times. The Sprawl is located on a shard of Titan, a moon of Saturn, and this metropolis is basically one large space station. Schools, hospitals, churches, malls, and many other sites exist in the city and all fall to the destruction of the necromorphs.
Throughout the game, Isaac makes his way around the city, looking for a way to stop the dementia affecting his mind and to stop the affects of the Marker. On his journey he must work out many puzzles (good thing he's an engineer) to get through the wasted city.
Many things are similar between the first and second games. Gameplay is practically identical. Isaac still walks around in his rig, armed with stasis and kinesis modules, as well as any weapons he may find along the way. Unlike the first game, Isaac talks this time around, and this change adds more tension to the story I believe. Also, simple jumps in zero gravity are no longer limited to linear directions, as Isaac's rigs have thrusters in their boots that allow for full 3d movement in space. Another difference is the increased graphics and sounds. Dead Space 2 offers a much richer A/V experience, many of which grip the player with fear and tension. Muffled screams and babies crying behind sealed doors are somewhat unsettling. Also with DS2, Isaac can use kinesis to pick up rods and impale the necromorphs if he's running low on ammo, or he can just tear a limb from a dead monster and use that.
Another major addition to this game is the creation of an onlline multiplayer option. The multiplayer has two opposing teams: CEC troops and necromorphs. Like a standard capture the flag game, the CEC team has tasks that need accomplishing in order to win the round. The necromorphs task is always to thwart the humans. Playing as both teams is fun, especially since the necromorphs can see where CEC troops are located, while CEC is forced to trust their instincts.
I was very pleased with the gameplay and plot of Dead Space 2. The campaign takes about 13-15 hours to complete, but replay-ability is a certainty. There are many new types of necromorphs, like the Swarm (see right), little children that are now lethal little pests that swarm and overwhelm Isaac. Several difficulty modes exist, from easy to hardcore, which allows the player only three save points and no checkpoints, less ammo & health, and more difficult enemies. There is the right amount of sci-fi and horror blended together to make the game very fun, and I suspect any fan of survival horror (which, oddly enough, I'm not) would enjoy this.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Dead Space 2. One does not have to be familiar with the first to enjoy this, as there is a "Previous on Dead Space" menu option available to bring newcomers up to par; however, to get the most from the story, I would highly recommend it. Now I'm ready for the next chapter...