Posted on January 19, 2011, Phil Hornshaw Dead Space 2 (Creepy) Demo Impressions
Full disclosure: I’m a crazy Dead Space fan. I loved the first game, I watched the movie and the all the motion comics, and I’m waiting for Amazon to deliver the new novel.
When the demo for Visceral Games’ upcoming survival horror title finally dropped on Xb0x Live, I downloaded it in earnest. The demo is there now, available both in the Xbox Live Marketplace and the Playstation Network store, for free on both counts. There’s also a lot of interesting back story, interviews and information available on the Dead Space website at deadspace.ea.com.
It seems to be an early portion of the game, out of context — as demos usually are — but filled with the kind of slow-burn horror that made the first game so stressful, scary and affecting. If the demo can be extrapolated to the rest of the game, it’s going to be pretty freaky.
But I also got the impression, based on the fact that I think the demo is lifted from early in the game, that it didn’t really want to blow all the surprises that are coming throughout the whole Dead Space 2 experience. What the demo gives is definitely cool, but it’s not a vast divergence from what we saw in the first game. The Dead Space 2 demo is scary and intense, but it’s also a lot like Dead Space 1.
The reason I believe the demo is a fairly early moment in the game is that we start out with Isaac dressed in his engineering RIG from the previous Dead Space. It’s the beige number with the green visor, and not the blue Advanced Suit seen in all the promo images for Dead Space 2. You eventually come by the Advanced Suit in one of Dead Space’s store booths, where you can pick it up for free in the demo. It gives you some stats boosts for dealing and resisting damage, and it looks damn cool.
After the opening cinematic video — it’s the “Getting Caught Up” trailer we saw online in December — Isaac is dropped into the action, apparently on The Sprawl. He starts in some sort of cryogenics storage area, which spans three or four identical rooms. Nothing happens for a bit, until Isaac starts to see frightening apparitions in the freezing tanks that apparently aren’t there.
Immediately, the player is struck with a bit of a worry, especially as Isaac works through four levels of the same room — is what I’m seeing, one wonders, actually the truth? The fact that Isaac is definitely seeing things at the same time he’s walking through a room that seems to repeat over and over as he goes through doors calls reality into question. Then the monsters start showing up.
You go through the demo equipped with four weapons: the iconic Plasma Cutter, the amped up Line Gun, the Pulse Rifle (an actual gun rather than a piece of mining equipment), and the Javelin Gun. Each weapon has a different moment in which it becomes viable: the Plasma Cutter is good for one-on-one fights with enemies, especially if you have a little room, while the Javelin Gun is great for a quick shot into a charging necromorph. The gun fires powerful spears that will often carry enemies across rooms and pin them to walls — great if you need to save your own life from an enemy mere inches away.
The Line Gun seems fairly close to the version used in Dead Space, which is nice: it still fires a big beam of like-slicing energy handy for dropping (or maybe just lowering) lots of enemies at once. Meanwhile, the Pulse Rifle, which I couldn’t stand in the first game, has been given a much-needed power boost. It’s still not great for cutting up enemies, but it packs enough punch to kill bad guys in a pinch, especially up close.
When things get really hairy, you can resort to Isaac’s melee strikes, a stomping move and one in which he uses his weapon as a bludgeon. The demo only operates on Normal difficulty, and it’s sure to be a lot tougher with the toughness turned up, but at least on this setting, Isaac is much more capable than in the past. The melee strike isn’t a weak flailing of last resort before being killed this time around — Isaac can kill stuff if he needs to. And he will definitely need to.
I won’t spoil the scares for you — and there were quite a few in the demo — but I will say that it gives you some time fighting a couple of the new enemies. You’ll deal with the Puker extensively, and I’m getting the impression these guys are being used to vary the encounters with standard necromorphs (you know, the guys who run at you and impale you and so on). They spit acidic bile that actually makes it hard for Isaac to move, so avoiding the spray is a must. And they keep flinging that stuff at you even without a head, keeping the Puker a viable threat longer than most other necromorphs.
You’ll also run across The Pack — necromorph’d children — which are hard to deal with, to say the least. They love to swarm, and the Line Gun seemed fairly effective in taking them out; it also cost me all my ammo to deal with them. They’re fast, small and angry, and they attack in sufficient numbers that older tactics like hitting them with Stasis can prove ineffective: you’ll freeze one or two, but more clamor up to take their places.
The demo also gives a taste of the zero gravity refinements and puzzle solving elements inherent in Dead Space 2. In one section, you shut gravity down after solving a puzzle involving Stasis and moving objects, all pretty standard. With the gravity off, however, you get to enjoy Isaac’s much larger degree of movement. His suit is equipped with jets this time out, so instead of launching from surface to surface during zero gee, you can actually fly around. I didn’t get to do any fighting in that state, but I can almost guarantee it’ll make things more hectic — used to be, when things got tough, you could just spring to a new surface to escape danger. Now you can move around a bit more, but it definitely won’t be as fast or as safe.
For being kind of short and totally out of context, the Dead Space 2 demo is pretty much a tense, scary blast all the way through. It’ll leave you wanting more, especially with its cliffhanger ending and multiple big set pieces. A lot has been worked into just these few minutes, and while the demo doesn’t feel like it strays too far from what we’re used to with Dead Space, it suggests a whole lot more is in store with Dead Space 2.
Got Dead Space 2? Check out our complete, step-by-step walkthrough!