Above all else, the atmosphere Visceral managed to deliver with their debut release remains unmatched. It was refreshing to see Dead Space 2 deliver that same sense of mystery. The game might not be set on the original Ishimura space-craft; but the teasing shadows and bright lights are still in tact. It's nice to have this generation's leading horror franchise back — the genre's been sorely lacking this generation.
Our demo starts out in long Ishimura-like corridors before leading into a freezer environment. Visually, the game stands up with the best out there. It looks absolutely stunning. The lighting is incredible, casting long shadows throughout the game's futuristic environments. Visceral's also managed to build-upon Dead Space's trademark "jump" moments. As we walk through the freezer room, a necromorph leaps out of glass enclosed pod and lurches towards us.
The gun-play feels familiar. We used the pulse rifle and plasma cutter to dispatch of the undead nasties, and the combat felt largely the same as the original. It's slower-paced than other third-person shooters but it feels chunky and satisfying. Taking out enemies' limbs is still a satisfying twist.
As we moved through the freezer environment, we encountered our first puzzle. In order to break the environment's gravity settings we were required to place a spinning mechanical object into stasis, and then use our kinesis ability to lock the object down. This caused the machinery to explode, placing us in zero gravity and allowing us to move freely with Isaac's new rocket thrusters. Movement through the air feels good, though the camera can get a bit close, making it hard to judge the correct trajectory of the character's movement. This might be the result of being thrown straight into the demo without a chance to settle down with the mechanics though.
With the gravity re-applied, the Ishimura corridors open out into a cathedral-like setting. The sense of scale in this room is good. It's a hint that Dead Space 2 will not just rely on corridors like its predecessor, but also large open environments. We're sprung by a giant fish-like creature which takes hold of our legs and drags us around the room. This is a typical Dead Space style boss encounter — there's a giant glowing area which we direct a shots at, but to no avail. The creature cuts off our gun-holding arm in one of the game's elaborate death sequences and rips off our head.
We leave the demo there, but come away extremely excited for Dead Space 2. We've been keeping our anticipation in check, but now we cannot wait for the next installment in the franchise. Dead Space will always be one of our favourites — and while Dead Space 2 looks like more of the same, that's certainly no bad thing.