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Dead Space 2

A commute from hell

The public transport system on the Ishimura in the original Dead Space was actually the safest place on the ship, with Isaac returning at the end of each chapter to move on to the next. In the sequel, Visceral has made Isaac's trips around the Sprawl a lot less relaxing.

Things start feeling uneasy early in the game as you enter the station and a burning train screeches past, flames reaching out of the windows as if trying to grab hold of Isaac. What follows is a set piece which demonstrate just how much Dead Space 2 has improved over the original.

A hacking minigame greets you as you step onto a train. It's pretty simple stuff but it's an inoffensive addition to the gameplay that doesn't outstay its welcome.

Once the train starts Isaac has to make his way through to the front, but enemies are pouring in through the windows. It would also be a lot easier if the train wasn't missing a carriage. But then we wouldn't get to play with Isaac's new action suit as he flies between carriages of a speeding train while necromorphs pile out of the door to grab him out of the air.

It's an exciting scene and one that only improves as Isaac reaches the next car only to find the train crashing and falling down a tunnel. Unable to stand up he slides down through the carriages and the game plays out almost like an on-rails shooter, with enemies clawing from all sides.

Zoom

That is until he reaches the end of the train which has crashed through the ceiling into a room that is soon to be full of necromorphs. Hanging upside-down from an open door, unable to free himself, you're tasked in killing the oncoming necromorphs whilst gently swinging back and forth, which obviously has a detrimental effect on your aim.

The set piece culminates in Isaac managing to free himself and escaping from the train just as it crashes into the floor. Phew.

Nothing in the original Dead Space stands out in our mind as such a memorable set piece. If the game continues to throw these chunks of variety at us, whilst maintaining the original's excellent survival horror stalking and combat, we should be on to a winner.

There are also plenty of other tweaks throughout the game. Visceral Games hasn't messed too much with the formula. Instead the developers have improved, refined and expanded on bits and pieces here and there.

Replaying the game is encouraged with monsters jumping out of different doors in different playthroughs and locked supply rooms holding random items.

Isaac's melee attack, the foot stomp, is faster and more precise and his visor now casts a satisfying blue glow, which only adds to the creepy atmosphere when the lights dip and all you can hear is the clatter of approaching necromorphs.

With Dead Space 2 set on a living space station instead of the dead husk of a mining colony, it's easy to see that Visceral has taken inspiration from Bioshock. Some sections of the Sprawl feel very much like Rapture. Especially when demon babies start climbing out of the walls.

One of Dead Space's innovations, the navigation beam, has also been improved. Hold down the right analogue stick and you can decide whether the beam points towards your next objective, the nearest save point, the closest workbench or a shop. A simple update but a very welcome one nonetheless.

With the change in setting (this time we're present to witness the necromorphs' invasion from the outset), the gameplay improvements and, of course, Isaac's new found voice, Dead Space 2 shouldn't have a problem being an even better game than the original.

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