With the survival horror genre lagging, Dead Space arrived in 2008 to offer a new take on the genre. It followed the journey of Isaac Clarke as he battled against the grotesque Necromorphs that could only be killed via dismemberment. The typical headshots that have worked so well for many years were no longer effective against this new foe.
For all its positive points though, there were still some areas for improvement and it looks as though Visceral Games are taking quite a lot of the initial criticism on board. Isaac returns in Dead Space 2, but he's going to have a much stronger role within the game's plot - with much more dialogue and a more assertive demeanour. He's also supporting a suit with a retractable mask so players can see his face.
There are also some further additions being made to the gameplay. The biggest addition is probably that players don't have to solely rely on dismemberment as their only way of defeating the Necromorphs - they now have many more options available. Enemies can now be impaled using a new gun, called the Javelin, as well as picking up sharp objects using the refined telekinesis mechanic - players can even use limbs from fallen foes as weapons. The Javelin also has a secondary fire, which allows the projectile fired to electrocute the surrounding environment. This causes Necromorphs caught in the blast radius to be incinerated. Executive Producer Steve Papoutsis felt such additions will really help to enhance the gameplay experience of Dead Space 2 - they've even gone as granular as to increase the effectiveness of the foot stomp.
Alongside these gameplay improvements, there are also new enemy types to deal with. Some are stealthy, others rely on strength in numbers. And with new enemies, come new ways to deal with these enemies. The environment is now much more interactive and a new dynamic lighting model really helps to emphasise this. New elements, such as hull breaches, have been added to the mix - elements which will really help to increase the tension. It means that a stray bullet could cause much more harm than good and even result in Isaac losing his life. Fail-safes have been included, but players still have to be vigilant and aware so that they can use these hazards to their advantage.
With these improvements and with multiplayer also coming to the table for this installment, it looks like Dead Space 2 is easily going to surpass the original - something that's only good for the survival horror genre. The improved visuals, dramatic lighting, new weapons and new enemy types look like they're really going to heighten the experience and although the game currently has a "it's done when it's done" release date, when it finally releases on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, it may well set a new bar for the whole genre.