E3 2010: Dead Space 2 Preview

By Jordan Douglas on July 2, 2010, 10:28PM EDT

2008's Dead Space was a fresh take on the survival horror genre. The game's tense atmosphere, solid combat and dismemberment mechanics, and high production values made it a critically and commercially successful new IP. Thankfully, after some uncertainty as to whether Dead Space would receive a sequel, EA announced Dead Space 2 late last year. The portion of the game shown at E3 showcased some slight tweaks to the core combat to make it more versatile, a revised zero gravity mechanic, and several action packed set pieces.

Dead Space 2 features its predecessor's protagonist, Isaac Clarke, who is now stationed at "The Sprawl", a massive mining city located at the site of the very first "planet crack". Those who played the original will remember that planet cracking spawned the Necromorph infestation on the USG Ishimura. Not surprisingly, the Necromorphs return and being wrecking havoc on the city.

One noticeable change to the original Dead Space's core gameplay was Issac's accelerated kinesis ability. Players are able to pick up objects at a much quicker pace in Dead Space 2, which, according to Visceral (the game's developer), makes kinesis a much more viable option in combat. The demo showed Isaac cutting off an enemy's claw, quickly grabbing it with kinesis, then firing it back at the dismembered enemy. Watching a Necromorph get impaled with its own limb is very satisfying.

The zero gravity mechanic has also been revised for Dead Space 2. This time around players are able to freely navigate the zero gravity spaces with complete 360 degree movement. This new found freedom comes in stark contrast to the original Dead Space, where players were restricted to leaping from one surface to another while in zero gravity. Both the improved gravity and more responsive kinesis appear to add versatility to Dead Space 2.

The demo showcased several action packed scenes meant to emphasis the team's focus on immersion in Dead Space 2. We saw Isaac battle countless enemies through the Church of Unitology's headquarters, as well as an epic sequence against a giant Necromorph that concluded with Isaac holding on for his life, on the side of a spaceship, while fending off the beast. Visceral assured us that these action packed moments don't make up the lions share of the experience, there will be plenty of quiet, tense segments as well.

Dead Space 2 appears to be a solid extension of the ideas executed so well in the original. Visceral has made a few changes to the core gameplay, which give players a multitude of new ways to dispense with the Necromorphs. Coupled with Isaac Clarke's newfound affinity for conversation, and you've got a strong sequel in the making.

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