Video Game Review: 'Dead Space 2'

Filed under: Video Games

Rated NOT FOR KIDS

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know "Dead Space 2" is not only very scary -- with disturbing-looking creatures who can jump out of the dark at you -- but there is plenty of violence, blood (and bile), and gore. It is an M-rated game that earns its rating and is not meant for kids or teens. Enemy creatures can be stabbed, shot, lit on fire, dismembered, and beheaded with the myriad of weapons at your disposal. And when your character dies, you can be impaled in the head by your enemy's spiky appendages -- and the camera becomes very close so you can see all the gory detail. Humans and aliens cry and shriek in pain when killed, blood stains the floor and walls, and body parts are strewn throughout some environments. The game also has course language, including the F-word, heard during dialogue sequences. The TV commercial for the game promotes the fact it's very violent and gory, showing mothers' shocked and disgusted reactions to the video game playing on the screen.

The good stuff

Ease of play: As with "Dead Space" and "Dead Space Extraction," this new game in the survival horror action series is fairly easy to control -- especially for seasoned players. There might be a slight learning curve at the beginning of the game but the tutorial and manual can help.

Educational value: This is not an educational game.

What to watch out for

Online interaction: Gamers can take the fight online against human opponents (humans versus Necromorphs), up to four-on-four, and chat with each other via headset microphone to strategize. Language is not filtered and can be unpredictable.

Messages: While you're a human trying to survive a brutal alien invasion (and get healed from your alien-induced dementia), you rely primarily on extreme violence to complete the task.

Role models: Isaac Clarke seems like a good guy, who is simply trying to stay alive, but he uses tools at his disposal, including all kinds of weapons, special suits, and some powers like telekinesis. He doesn't seem to enjoy what he's doing to these Necromorph aliens, though -- it's a matter of survival by any means necessary -- but the means are violent, gory, and excessive.

Violence: As with its predecessors, "Dead Space 2" features many graphic scenes of severe violence, including enemies you can stab, shoot, dismember, decapitate, impale, and light on fire with the various weapons and powers in the game. Players will see copious amounts of blood and gore -- including violent attacks on you, the protagonist, who might get a spiky appendage through the forehead and see blood gush out of the gaping mouth. Or your head might be chewed off. There are even "Necromorph" enemies that look like babies and others that can spew toxic bile. Blood can be seen smeared on walls and floors, along with human bodies and body parts.

Sex: Not an issue.

Language: The game has some strong language, right from the beginning of the game, including "f--k," "s--t," "holy s--t," "damn," "hell" and "bitch."

Consumerism: Not an issue.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking: You can stomp on crates to reveal medical packs for healing.

What's the Story?

Taking place 500 years in the future, "Dead Space 2" is a sequel that begins shortly after the events from the first game. Isaac Clarke, an engineer assigned to restore a mining ship's damaged communications systems, awakens from an amnesiac spell on the Sprawl, a giant metropolis orbiting Saturn. He finds himself wrapped in a straight-jacket while being interrogated by an officer, during another relentless attack by the vicious "Necromorph" creatures. You, as Clarke, soon discover you're suffering from dementia caused by an ancient artifact you found in the first game; and not only must you escape the carnage but must also find a mysterious woman who claims to have a cure for your illness. Played from a third-person perspective, the game has plenty of nail-biting moments as the enemies jump out from the shadows with its claw-like appendages, ready to impale you.

Is It Any Good?

"Dead Space 2" is terrifyingly good -- if you can stomach the gore and you enjoy fright-filled moments. You'll acquire many high-tech weapons, melee attacks, and powers such as telekinesis, which allows you to pull objects towards you (such as a nearby crowbar or even human bodies) and push them back towards the various types of Necromorphs. Along with wandering the creepy corridors and rooms on the Sprawl, "Dead Space 2" also lets you visit other locations not revealed in this review for fear of spoiling the surprises. The game features high-definition graphics, cinematic camera angles, and Hollywood-quality music and sound effects. Along with the solo campaign, which should last about 12 hours, multiplayer has been added to the franchise with online support for up to 4-on-4 matches. Electronic Arts' mature space adventure lives up to the hype and sets the bar high for other videogames in 2011. But be sure you like being scared before you buy, as this is one to play with the lights off and speakers turned up.

Reviewed by Marc Saltzman

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