Steam Backlog Bonanza – Dead Space 2 [Blaugust 3]

937 words.

I bought both Dead Space 1 and 2 in a Steam winter sale in 2011 for $5 each (that was back in the halcyon days when Steam sales were always 85%-off sales, not the trolly 10%-off sales they are today). I played seven hours of Dead Space 1 according to Steam. I didn’t hate it, but I obviously never finished it.

Yesterday on the Backlog Bonanza, it was finally time to take a look at the sequel, Dead Space 2.

A rare room with working lights in Dead Space 2.

One interesting tidbit I didn’t know: According to Wikipedia, Dead Space 2 was one of the top ten most expensive video games ever made, after Shadow of the Tomb Raider and before Grand Theft Auto IV.

Dead Space 2 is much like I remembered Dead Space 1: A third-person Alien-like space survival-horror shooter with a very bizarre selection of weaponry. It seemed to have many of the same issues I remember from the first game, too: Controls and movement that somehow felt awkward and unwieldy in a shooter.

It was particularly evident during the one boss fight I experienced. I wanted to have the ability to dodge and evade, but I was stuck with a much more limited toolset consisting mainly of a lumbering sort of kiting. Jog away, turn around, shoot a couple times, jog away again, turn around, shoot a couple times, etc., etc. It’s the age-old gaming problem of the enemy trying to melee with you, but you don’t have any melee mechanics to respond with.

It wasn’t apparent to me where they spent the money in the game’s development. The voice acting was pretty good, but I didn’t recognize any of the voices as “stars” in the field. The graphics were pretty good, although not spectacular. The music was a fairly unobtrusive background creepiness. The story was forgettable, starting off with the classic “don’t get killed until you meet up with the mysterious stranger giving you instructions over the radio because there’s important work to be done even though you don’t remember anything because you just woke up.” I think there’s at least one game every year with that same story. BioShock is one. Mass Effect 2 is another. I’m sure you can think of others.

Hope you like creepy monsters in the dark illuminated by flashlights.

Admittedly I wasn’t in a gaming mood when I played, but overall, Dead Space 2 didn’t leave much of an impression on me. The jump scares were obvious and not even a little bit scary. The creepy monsters weren’t very creepy because we’ve seen them a million times before. The dark hallways weren’t very spooky because we’ve also seen them a million times before.

What the game does have going for it, however, is a very unusual assortment of weaponry. There is a huge selection of them, and they are all monstrous weapons of carnage meant to tear monsters to shreds in the most gruesome ways imaginable. (You have to dismember the “Necrophages” to kill them, after all, which is also a slightly unique twist on the shooter genre. Head shots aren’t enough here.) Most of your arsenal hurls metallic bits of shrapnel or cuts with lasers or plasma. It’s unique, I’ll give them that. It’s also not particularly intuitive. It takes some adjustment to shoot at a creature’s arms instead of its head.

Note the glowing health and stasis charge meter lights on your character's back.

One other thing I liked is that your heads-up display containing your health information is actually painted onto your character’s back in the form of lights on a kind of backpack, instead of being overlaid on top of the screen like most games do. Your “stasis” weapon’s charge level also showed as a meter on your character’s back. I thought that added a unique flair to the game. It’s always nice to see games doing things a little bit differently, and this seemed to make the game a little more immersive. Everything you see on the screen is part of the in-game world that your character also sees.

I played all of Chapter 1, which took about an hour and a half. Will I play more? I doubt it. I have no investment in the story, or more precisely in any of the characters in the story. The first chapter didn’t give me any reason to care if my character Engineer Isaac Clarke (apparently the same guy from the first game) lives or dies. So I don’t feel any need to see how it turns out. It seemed very much like a continuation of the first game, with nothing particularly new to see. Just a lot of dark corridors and space zombies jumping out of corners.

Live Stream - Dead Space 2

Stream Production Notes: I was pretty flat for this stream. I spent most of the day trying to talk myself out of doing it, actually. It’s only the second night of Blaugust as I write this, and I’m already worn out from trying to stay on schedule. It’s a lot of work to put out fresh content every single day, folks, particularly in two different mediums at the same time. Next year the “staying motivated” week needs to be extended through the entire month. :)

This is my Blaugust post for August 3rd, 2019. I feel like I should be a lot more creative and informative with these blurbs here at the end but I of course never remember to make a template or anything so I have to type them out manually from memory every time.

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