Do you know when i first heard ‘creepy crying baby in a horror game’ sound effect? It was Doom, on the PS1. (which was actually a really great version, and had a soundtrack far superior to the shitty MIDI synth crap on the PC, fact fans). That was in 1998. It is now almost 14 years later, and im sitting here wondering how the Christing balls Dead Space 2 is getting away with using the same goddamn sound effects to try and scare me in 2011.
I’m not even going to attempt to downplay how much of a horror fan i am. Before my 10th birthday, id already watched a ton of classic 80s horror films like The Gate, ‘Salems lot, The Lost Boys, The Shining, Creepshow, the list is practically fucking endless. (and to anyone saying ‘pfft you didnt mention ‘halloween‘, thats because halloween is SHIT). So it’s rare that a horror film will ever scare me nowadays. And it’s even rarer that a horror game will scare me. The only genuinely scary horror games ive ever played were Project zero 1 & 2, and Amnesia. Forbidden Siren 2 was scary but mostly just down to how dickassed the controls were in that game.
So this puts Dead Space 2 at a disadvantage, because for a start, it’s about as scary as Horror classic Halloween:H2O starring acting powerhouse Busta Rhymes. It relies more or less on the same scare tactics as Dead Space: lots of creaking ambient noise before OH MY GOD HOW COULD I POSSIBLY HAVE FORSEEN THIS a necromorph jumps out of a Vent. The necromorphs, i can only assume, were all ventilation engineers in their former, pre-bloodlust and claws days, as they all seem to really get a kick out of hanging out in Vents waiting for someone to walk by. This whole sorry saga could’ve been avoided if the the Architects of Dead Space’s 2 setting, The Sprawl, had seen what havoc the necromorphs had wreaked on on the vents of the Ishimura and just screwed all their vents on a little bit fucking tighter. If Dead Space 3 features one single, solitary Vent with a necromorph in it, i am personally going to take a shit in a box and mail it to Visceral games.
After several hours of this you’ll be as desensitised to jump scares as most adult males are to hardcore internet pornography. The problem with Dead space 2’s idea of horror is that none of it has even the remotest bit of subtlety. It’s the horror equivalent of a porno: all close up shots of gaping holes, bad acting, and nothings ever left to your imagination. It’s either a necromorph trying to force one of it’s appendages down your neck or it’s DS2’s other idea of horror: Children. Children are scary as shit right? Anyone who’s ever had a pregnancy scare can attest to this. So DS2 goes BALLS FUCKING OUT to throw as many freaky child-related horrors at you as possible. In one hilarious scene, a woman is killed by having a baby explode in her arms like some sort of miniature suicide bomber. In another, you’re fending off wave after wave of necro-Children and suicide bomber-babies. Honestly, there comes a point where you’ve killed so many babies and children that it stops being either scary or disturbing and becomes pure hilarious.
The entire School level is so full of cliche of horror tropes (spooky childrens music, spooky kids drawings, spooky anything related to children) that it borders on being a complete parody, as if you were playing ‘NOT ANOTHER DEAD SPACE GAME’ or ‘MEET THE NECROMPRPHS’ or some shit.
To further add to the terror, every now and again your dead girlfriend will pop up and scream obscenities at you over basically causing her to kill herself. Much like murdering children, it might freak you out the first time it happens, but by the time you reach the end of the game youve long since realised all she does is pop up every hour or so and say YOU KILLED MEEEEEEEEE etc etc, thus proving women are able to nag the shit out of you even after death.
For the most part however, DS2’s gameplay is fairly enjoyable. Its not going to set the world on fire, as its more or less still copy and pasting shit from Resident Evil 4, but once you get over the fact that its about as scary as an episode of the fucking Smurfs, you can sit back and enjoy the ride. At least, up until chapter 12 you can anyway.
You see from chapter 12 up to the finale in chapter 15, DS2 decided that Necromorphs should no longer be hiding in vents, or skulking at the far and of corridors, no, Necromorphs are tired of that shit. And they want you to know that. So they fling every fucking variety of necromorph humanly, or inhumnaly possible at you at the same fucking time. In one side splittingly hilarious moment of checkpoint fuckery, the game spawned me in a room with about 4 necromorphs right fucking behind me (one of which is the invincible regenerator necro, who was so much fun i thought i might actually shoot myself in the head), meaning every time i started the area i had to immediately run as fast as fucking possible or be insta-raped, unfortunately i had to run from the room full of necros into a corridor that was also full of necros, meaning i was stuck in the dead space 2 equivalent of taking it in both holes.
The story is also a bit of a complete and utter dry hump. Isaac wakes up in a loony bin, breaks out, and then runs around killing shit for 7 hours while an ominous black man (OBM) occasionally pops up and says shit like “I cant let you go any further Isaac”, but then does absolutely fuck all to stop you. Isaac finds a new girlfriend who you never really have any time to bond with or enjoy her company as she mostly just communicates with you via skype or whatever it is built into Isaacs suit and says shit like “Isaac you have to fix the flanger with the sump pump and no i conveniently cant open this door to come out and see you because its broken and shit”. The OBM continues to annoy you with his hourly empty threat sessions right up til the end of the game when you and your new girlfriend escape and live happily ever after OR DO THEY?!1!1ONE.
All in all, DS2 is a fun game to play, but just dont expect any interesting narrative or real scares, unless ominous black guys scare you, and lets face it, they do.