Dead Space 2

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Dead Space 2
Dead Space 2 Box Art.jpg
Developer(s)Visceral Games
Publisher(s)Electronic Arts
Director(s)Wright Bagwell
Producer(s)David Woldman
Designer(s)
Programmer(s)
  • Dean Grandquist
  • Steve Timson
Artist(s)Ian Milham
Writer(s)Jeremy Bernstein
Composer(s)Jason Graves
SeriesDead Space
Platform(s)
Release
  • NA: January 25, 2011
  • AU: January 27, 2011
  • EU: January 28, 2011
Genre(s)Survival horror
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Dead Space 2 is a science fiction survival horror video game, developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, released in January 2011.[1] Set three years after the events of the first game, the game follows protagonist Isaac Clarke's fight against a new necromorph outbreak on the Sprawl, a space station surrounding a shard of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Unlike its predecessor, Dead Space 2 has a multiplayer mode, pitting human characters against necromorphs across the Sprawl.[2] A Collector's Edition is available for all three platforms; the PlayStation 3 Limited Edition includes Dead Space: Extraction as a PlayStation Move compatible title.[3] A port for Wii was planned, but not released.[4] It is one of the most expensive video games, made with a $120 million budget split evenly between development and marketing during 2008 to 2010.[5]

Dead Space 2 received critical acclaim. A sequel, Dead Space 3, was released in February 2013 to largely positive reviews but suffered from poor sales.

Gameplay[edit]

Isaac Clarke (left), wearing the game's Advanced RIG suit, fights off a swarm of Necromorphs.

The player controls Isaac Clarke from a third-person perspective, looking over the character's right shoulder. As in the previous game, the game uses the Resource Integration Gear (RIG) suit, an in-world heads-up display (HUD) system that uses holograms projected from Isaac's suit and weapons to show information such as messages and ammunition count. In vacuum areas, a timer appears on Isaac's right shoulder, counting how much oxygen his suit has before he suffocates. The RIG uses gauges on Isaac's back to display his health and stasis module levels. If Isaac's health or air reaches zero, or if the player fails to survive a quick-time event, Isaac will die, forcing the player to restart from the last checkpoint.[6]

Early in the game, Isaac acquires the stasis module, which slows down enemies and otherwise-impassable moving obstacles (e.g. active heavy machinery) to allow Isaac to pass through safely; and the kinesis module, which allows Isaac to carry and fire objects telekinetically. The player can upgrade their weapons and armor at work benches, using power nodes. There are automated stores, where the player can buy and sell various items, and gain new weapons and suits through acquiring schematics found throughout the Sprawl.[6]

Throughout the game, the player will come across different puzzles that impede progress. In some cases, Isaac must hack consoles to activate machines and open doors; in others, Isaac must repair or reposition mechanisms to proceed. The player regularly encounters zero-G environments, where Isaac is capable of maneuvering in all directions with thrusters attached to his suit. Both normal and zero-G environments may be in areas within the vacuum of outer space; in these situations, Isaac must refill his limited oxygen supply via oxygen dispensers.[6]

Much like in the first game, Isaac must fight the necromorphs, mutated and aggressive human corpses. To take down necromorphs, the player must use "strategic dismemberment": in other words, slicing off limbs or sections of the necromorphs' bodies.[7] For example, shooting a Slasher Necromorph in the head will, like many other types, have little effect; however, it can be stopped by shooting its bladed arms off.[8] Depending on how they are wounded, some necromorphs can adopt new stances and tactics, even sprouting new limbs or spawning more enemies in the process.[9]

Dead Space 2's main campaign offers five difficulty levels (listed in order of difficulty): Casual, Normal, Survivalist, Zealot and Hard Core. Hard Core is unlocked once the game has been completed on any other difficulty. Hard Core mode, which can only be enabled upon beginning the game, limits the player to three saves in the entire campaign. Item drops and credits are more rare, enemies are more challenging, and checkpoints are absent.[citation needed]

Multiplayer[edit]

Multiplayer in Dead Space 2, known as Outbreak mode, pits two four-player teams of human Sprawl Security forces and the necromorphs against each other in different locations and scenarios. The humans complete various mission objectives before time runs out, such as activating escape pods and destroying machines; whilst the necromorphs prevent the humans from completing said objectives. There are two rounds per match, with each team switching sides at the end of the round.[6] Human player characters start with two weapons in their arsenal, starting with the standard Pulse Rifle and Plasma Cutter, before unlocking new weapons to use. For humans, new weapons and improvements are unlocked through level progression, along with different suits similar to the ones in single player for the humans. Necromorph players, on the other hand, unlock boosts to their current abilities, health, and damage. Necromorph players can choose the necromorph they will spawn as: a Lurker, a Puker, a Spitter, or a member of the Pack. In order to use stronger necromorphs, like the Puker and Spitter, the player must wait for a number of seconds on the respawn screen before that type is usable. Whilst Sprawl Security players spawn in their main spawn areas, necromorph players spawn through vents and floor panels all over the map, and can choose their spawn point on the spawn screen.[6]

Synopsis[edit]

Setting and characters[edit]

During the 23rd century, Earth's population found themselves suffering resource and energy crises, causing world government EarthGov to begin research on solutions. The former was resolved with "planet-cracker" spaceships, created to smash and harvest other planets for resources, and the latter with an investigation of a black alien monolith discovered in the Chicxulub crater, which emits a sourceless electromagnetic field. Dubbed the "Marker", the monolith begins causing violent psychoses in people near to it, prompting lead researcher Michael Altman to try and leak its existence. Assassinating Altman too late, EarthGov inadvertently turns him into a martyr, leading to the formation of the Church of Unitology, a cult that uses the Marker as a religious idol.

During the events of the first game, set in 2508, CEC Engineer Isaac Clarke was a member of the USG Kellion, a ship that responded to a distress call from planet-cracker USG Ishimura; Isaac himself joined as the crew-member who sent the distress signal was his girlfriend, Nicole Brennan. Crashing into the ship due to a malfunction, the Ishimura was found to be overrun with hostile monsters (dubbed "necromorphs"), created from the reanimated, mutated corpses of the crew. Isaac soon learns that the Ishimura uncovered a man-made red Marker on Aegis VII, its disturbance causing homicidal insanity and the spread of the necromorph infestation. Trying to return the Red Marker to Aegis VII, Isaac is betrayed by Kellion crew member Kendra Daniels, who intends to steal the Marker.

With the help of Nicole, Isaac returned the Marker to Aegis VII, triggering an electromagnetic pulse that indirectly disabled the gravity tethers holding the planet together. Isaac then learns from Daniels that Nicole has long since committed suicide; Isaac's interactions with her were hallucinations caused by the Red Marker. Daniels, removing the marker to try and steal it, reawakens the necromorph Hive Mind in the process, which kills her. Isaac kills the Hive Mind and narrowly escapes the planetary collapse on a ship, only to be attacked by a hallucination of Nicole.

Isaac Clarke returns as the game's protagonist, initially aided by a mysterious woman called Daina Le Guin who claims she can cure him of his insanity. Isaac later teams up with Ellie Langford, a CEC pilot, and Nolan Stross, Isaac's fellow patient who underwent the same mental treatment as him while imprisoned by EarthGov and presumably holds the knowledge of how to destroy Titan Station's Marker. They are antagonized by Hans Tiedemann, the EarthGov director of Titan Station who performs a mass civilian evacuation of Titan in the face of the necromorph outbreak and orders the elimination of key subjects like Isaac and Stross. Nicole also appears in the game as a hostile and disturbing hallucination haunting Isaac, created by a combination of the Marker's influence and Isaac's own feelings of guilt regarding her death.

Plot[edit]

Three years after the Aegis VII event, Isaac Clarke awakens on the Sprawl, a civilian space-station in orbit around the remnants of Titan. Isaac wakes amidst a necromorph outbreak, with no memory of the past few years and suffering severe hallucinations. Narrowly escaping as people are murdered and commit suicide, Isaac is contacted by Daina Le Guin, who explains that Isaac's encounter with a Marker has encoded its information into his brain; Sprawl Director Hans Tiedemann has gradually extracted the data to reverse-engineer a new Marker, drugging Isaac to erase his memory and protect him from insanity and suicide.

Isaac fights his way through the city to reach Daina, who promises rescue and a cure for his worsening insanity; Isaac finds himself being deterred by violent hallucinations of Nicole Brennan, his deceased girlfriend who insists on becoming "whole" with him. Isaac reaches Daina, who reveals she is a Unitologist; Daina explains she's planning to use Isaac to create more Markers to spread "Convergence", an event foretold in Unitology. However, an EarthGov gunship kills Daina and her associates.

Isaac is contacted by fellow patient Nolan Stross, who reveals the Marker is located in the government sector and claims they can destroy it. Isaac also encounters Ellie Langford, a CEC pilot who lost her crew during the outbreak. As they progress together, Tidemann shuts off the Sprawl's life support, forcing Isaac to reactivate it with a solar array beam; Tidemann then takes control of the array to sever the transport tramline to the government sector. Cut off, Isaac is forced to detour through the Ishimura, which is docked at the Sprawl for decontamination and repair after the events of the first game. Stross' dementia soon worsens to the point he attacks Ellie, removing her eye with a screwdriver; Isaac is forced to kill Stross in self-defense. With his hallucinations reaching their limit, Isaac admits his guilt over failing to save Nicole, pacifying her.

Reaching the government sector, Isaac and Ellie repurpose a mining drill to bore an entrance. Tricking Ellie into boarding a ship, Isaac remotely forces it to depart so she can escape. Isaac then releases the necromorphs onto Tiedemann's forces as a distraction, causing the government sector to be overrun; the necromorphs soon reach the Marker, triggering Convergence. With Nicole's help, Isaac uses a machine that allows him to recall Marker data and understand how to destroy it. Reaching the Marker, Isaac kills Tiedemann, only to be betrayed by Nicole, who invades his mind; "Nicole" explains that she is simply the Marker's means to manipulate him, and to become "whole" is for the Marker to absorb the body and mind of its creator. Isaac destroys Nicole and the Marker codes in his mind.

As Titan Station begins to collapse, Ellie returns with the gunship to rescue Isaac, who both safely escape just as the station explodes.

In a post-credits scene, an audio transmission is heard between two people: a survey flight pilot and his ranking superior, known only as "the Overseer". The subordinate relays that Titan Station, which he calls "Marker Site 12," and its Marker have been destroyed. The Overseer retorts that it is a pity and that the other sites will have to pick up the pieces.[10]

Severed[edit]

Running concurrently with the early parts of Dead Space 2, Severed follows Sprawl Security Sergeant Gabe Weller and his wife Lexine. Patrolling the Titan Mines as the necromorph outbreak occurs, Gabe is soon one of the few surviving security members, and contacts Lexine to warn her of the outbreak. Racing to Lexine, Gabe receives a transmission from Director Tiedemann ordering all surviving security teams to scrub the facility and eliminate all key subjects.

Exiting Titan Mines, Gabe is betrayed by his superior officer Victor Bartlett, who reveals that subjects in the "Oracle Program" are included in key targets; due to her pregnancy, Lexine is on the list of targets, so Bartlett attacked him preemptively. Gabe flies to the hospital in a gunship to try and reach Lexine first, and witnesses two mysterious government operatives kidnapping her.

Gabe chases after them to a docked ship, where Lexine escapes into the ship as her kidnappers transform into necromorphs. Dispatching the threats, Gabe attempts to open the airlock as Lexine prepares the ship. Attempting to hack the airlock, Gabe is ambushed by Victor who detonates a live grenade, killing him and severing Gabe's leg. Gabe shoots the airlock fuses to open the bay doors, and says goodbye to Lexine as he succumbs to his wounds while she escapes. An epilogue reveals Gabe's body has been taken for study by EarthGov, while Lexine's whereabouts are unknown.

Development[edit]

The game's creative director, Wright Bagwell, said that Dead Space was very similar to Resident Evil. "There's an interesting story from Dead Space and Dead Space 2, which is that when we started building Dead Space, we basically started with a mechanic set that was really similar to Resident Evil 4. The [people on the] team were really huge fans of that game."[11]

In contrast to the approach used in the first game in the series, it was decided that Isaac Clarke would no longer be a mute character, and would take a proactive role in the story, rather than follow orders given by others as he did in the first title.[12]

The game's art director, Ian Milham, commented about the multiplayer of Dead Space 2: "Other games are fine[,] but this is different. It's the kind of multiplayer that could only exist in a Dead Space type world."[13]

The score was composed by Jason Graves.[14]

A closed multiplayer beta began on September 23, 2010.[15] A playable demo was released for the Xbox Live Marketplace worldwide and PlayStation Network on December 21, 2010, in North America and on December 22, 2010, in Europe.

Marketing and release[edit]

As part of a build-up campaign to Dead Space 2's release, Visceral Games ran a competition via Facebook to get participants' faces in the game by creating a piece of text, video or artwork detailing a melee kill by Isaac Clarke. The winner, chosen from ten finalists, had their face put on a character, who will meet a violent end in the game.[16]

A downloadable game was released on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Marketplace prior to the release of Dead Space 2. Titled Dead Space Ignition, it comprises three minigames: Hardware Crack, Trace Route, and System Override. Dead Space Ignition has four endings and obtaining each ending unlocks a piece of equipment for use in Dead Space 2. The creator of the Dead Space comic book series Antony Johnston wrote the story for Dead Space: Ignition.[16] The game was available as a free pre-order bonus with the standard and collectors edition.[17]

Electronic Arts announced that the multiplayer component of the game would be receiving two new multiplayer maps. The "Outbreak Map Pack", which includes The Academy and The Concourse, will send players back to survive multiplayer evisceration in The Sprawl on May 31 and June 3 for Xbox 360 and PS3, respectively.[18]

Advertising[edit]

For the advertising campaign, 200 women were selected for their conservative values and lack of familiarity with video games. Their reactions to a screening of the game were featured in EA's web and TV advertisements with the campaign slogan called "Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2".[19][20] The campaign was criticized as sexist and reinforcing stereotypes against female and older gamers.[21][22] As the game is M rated and only 17+ can purchase it, others thought the advertisements were pointless and would hurt market share.[23] Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon.com wrote: "The video game's campaign hinges on a unique premise – one that ignores how much the culture of gaming has changed."[24] The Approval Matrix published by New York Magazine placed the campaign in the Lowbrow but Brilliant quadrant.[25]

On the other hand, notable voices in the video game industry defended the campaign. Kotaku's Brian Crecente asked "Are that many people really taking the Dead Space 2's moms campaign that literally? When did gamers become so humorless?"[26] Steven Hodson of The Inquisitr wrote, "Granted it took a lot of guts for EA to even go down this road but the idea of pulling in 200 middle-aged moms into an individual focus group situation to evaluate a new game – title unknown – was awesome."[27] Some people even went as far as to say the campaign was sheer genius.[28] Game designer Cliff Bleszinski suggested that the Electronic Arts marketing team deserved a raise.[29] The programmers of the Adult Swim animation block on Cartoon Network demonstrated their approval by creating a pre-cartoon segment bumper that aired around this time stating that "the best marketing idea of 2011 already goes to Electronic Arts for their Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2 campaign".[30] Electronic Arts won the Mi6 Game Marketing award for 2011 Outstanding Overall Marketing Campaign of the Year.[31]

Retail editions[edit]

The Collector's Edition of Dead Space 2 features a copy of the game, replica plasma cutter, CD soundtrack, DLC voucher (for access to the Unitology Suit and Force Gun) and artwork. In North America, all three system versions come with the plasma cutter. In Europe, however, only the Xbox 360 and PC versions come with the plasma cutter. The PlayStation 3 version forgoes the replica gun and comes with Dead Space: Extraction, and a DLC voucher for access to the Rivet Gun.[32] It is the HD version of Extraction which supports PlayStation Move, features co-op gameplay options, and has been updated to include full trophy support.[33]

Downloadable content[edit]

Three downloadable content (DLC) packages were available at launch: the Hazard pack, the Supernova pack and the Martial Law pack for consoles. Each includes multiple new suits and weapons. The PC version included the DLC free as part of a later patch. The Outbreak Map Pack containing three free multiplayer maps was released in March 2011 for consoles.

The first post-launch downloadable content package, titled Dead Space 2: Severed, was announced on January 25, 2011. It features characters previously seen in Dead Space: Extraction contained in a standalone two chapter single-player campaign with Gabe Weller as the protagonist.[34] It was released on March 1, 2011, for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 only.[35]

Reception[edit]

Dead Space 2 received generally favourable reviews on PC and PS3 and was universally acclaimed on Xbox 360 according to metacritic. PSM3 gave the game 92%.[62] Official Xbox Magazine gave the game a 9.5. Game Informer's Andrew Reiner gave Dead Space 2 a 9/10, calling it a "monster of a sequel". He praised its horror aspect by claiming: "[b]attling a seven-foot beast that vomits acidic bile and tries to impale Isaac with razor-sharp appendages is one thing, but watching a mother cradle a necromorph baby will haunt my nightmares until I die." Official Xbox Magazine UK gave the game 9 out of 10.[63] GameTrailers gave the game 9.0 out of 10, praising the game's dark and dreary atmosphere and its intense and unrelenting gameplay, while pointing out the multiplayer component's shortcomings.[64]

GameSpot's editor Carolyn Petit, who gave the game a score of 8.5 for the Xbox 360 and a 9.0 for the PlayStation 3, said: "Dead Space 2 doesn't bring with it the same sense of experiencing something utterly new and innovative that its predecessor did. But it's nonetheless a terrific game, with a campaign that simultaneously leaves you satisfied and eager for more, and intense multiplayer that gives you a great reason to keep coming back to this terrifying universe. Unless you're just plain chicken, this is a sci-fi horror adventure you definitely want to suit up for."

IGN's editor Greg Miller gave the game a 9.0, saying that the survival horror genre got a new gold standard and that: "Dead Space 2 is more than just an action game and it's more than a survival horror game – it's a game that tells a really personal story about a guy who has been seriously scarred by the events around him. That premise alone makes it interesting, but Visceral Games melds it with rewarding combat, shocking enemies, and huge set pieces before tossing it into a world that's truly creepy and scary." He also said that he did not find the multiplayer very interesting.[65]

Thierry Nguyen from 1UP.com compared Dead Space 2 and its predecessor to "Ridley Scott's Alien and James Cameron's Aliens". In his review, he says, "The first installments in both series focus on civilians panicking their way through a dark spaceship while avoiding an extraterrestrial lurking horror; both follow-ups retain their predecessor's basic aesthetic while deliberately shifting from creeping tension into outright sci-fi action. Aliens introduced space marines, the power loader exosuit, and the Alien Queen; Dead Space 2 gives us scenes of Isaac flying around in zero-g, mowing down Necromorphs with an assault rifle while wearing 'space marine' armor, and confidently throwing explosives with his telekinetic powers."[66]

Fangoria's Doug Norris gave the game 4/4 skulls, praising both the gore and psychological horror. He stated that the intro is "one of the most hellacious first fifteen minutes of a game ever to appear on consoles."[67]

Destructoid's Jim Sterling liked Clarke's change from a silent protagonist to a speaking role, and praised the overall quality of the single player part of the game.[68] However, he felt that there were too many tight corridors in the Sprawl, which made it look like the spaceship of the previous game. He also thought that the multiplayer was "rather unsatisfying and delivers nothing of the pacing and tension that the main game brings."

Hardcore Gamer's Adam Beck gave Dead Space 2 a 4.5/5, praising the cinematic single-player campaign but criticizing its horror aspect by claiming "there are just too many expected encounters when you enter a room and it never allows you to let your guard down". He goes on to say "Dead Space 2 is one of the most disturbing, grotesque and unsightly games I've ever played... but it's so damn good."[69]

Sales[edit]

Electronic Arts reported that Dead Space 2 shipped nearly 2 million units in the first week of its release.[70] Despite seemingly strong sales figures, these were considered financially disappointing by Electronic Arts.[71]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]