The title says "Dead Space 2", however, the game places as if it was "Dead Space 1.5" - and don't get me wrong, that is not a bad thing. The first game was nearly flawless in a sense of re-launched the survivor horror genre. The second game succeeds in reigniting the experience of the first game and adding new useful elements.
I remember playing Cold Fear. It's a great game with insanely crappy controls on par with Resident Evil and the constantly changing camera view. While playing Cold Fear, I recall that the only real effective way to stay alive and progress in the game quickly was by walking and aiming at the same time. That way, you would actually prevent the constant camera changing views as well as cumbersome controls. As sad as that may be, I found myself doing a lot of that in Dead Space 2, but then again, in Cold Fear you were not in constant danger of being jumped by a monster from behind the corner. The controls become much more smoother and responsive when you walk and aim at the same time, and I think that is a crappy control design, both for PC players and probably the console players.
I feel sorry for left-handed people here since this game only has the right over-the-shoulder view. I mean, how hard is it to give the option of switching the view?
It is very welcome to be able to hear Isaac's voice this time. Playing as a mute in video games is a slight immersion killer, at least in my case.
Also, in the first game, Isaac would start walking on the diagonal line, wherever you were trying to walk diagonally by pressing W and S or W and A. When you try to do that in the second game, the angle at which Isaac starts walking is barely noticeable, it still feels as if he is walking straight up instead of making a slight left or right - you'll know what I am talking about.
Now in order for you to turn anywhere effectively, you'd have to use your mouse, and to be honest, I don't remember too many games doing that, with the exception of Cold Fear, Resident Evil 4 and 5.
But back to the positive things:
I know this is cliche but the graphics are exceptionally well done and extremely detailed - you will see for yourself. The shadows, the lightening are flawless to say the least.
The game is scary, but you knew that already. I think the first game was many times scarier than the last two Resident Evil games. The second game will definitely put some small temporary dents in your psyche. I found myself jumping and cursing repeatedly.
The physics work like they would in the actual world, and the telekinesis ability would probably solve most of your problems.
The music in this game is a must. When I play this game for the second time, I'll probly play without the music, since it always kills the immersion for me, but on the other hand, a large portion of the scares in the game are contingent upon the "music" if you can call it that. The downside is that the constant screeching music can be a give away, since it subsides when you kill enemies in your immediate area, just like in the first game.
The sound is one of the pillars of this game, and it's probably where the heart of this game is. You constantly hear the distant growls as well as scratching in the ventilation shafts. The voice acting is passable.
There is more open space now and this open space still feels like, well, the open dead space, with or without the monsters.
The battles are still as satisfying as ever, but they can get frustrating at times. The good old retreat-them-and-shoot-them formula doesn't always work here, because you WILL find yourself surrounded. The game can get pretty hard on the Zealot mode, but I hate the fact that they give you an option to change difficulty in mid game, what a cop out! Plus I don't like the option challenging my commitment and resolve to beating almost any game I play on the maximum difficulty
There are plenty of weapons, but my favorite still remains the good old plasma rifle. I mean come on, all that engineering and mining equipment is interesting and all but we still want to see some automatic fire.
The game plays great in 3D vision and there are no FPS spikes.
The environments are more varied. You can actually get plenty of solid glimpses of the pre-necromorph normal civilian life
The new monsters are really well implemented, but I couldn't help but feel that some of them were already used in Left4Dead. I guess at some point you will start running out of ideas and start recycling the old ones. Nevertheless, the AI stays strong.
As with the first game, the save stations are enough to give you the incentive to be cautious and not rush, die and re-load constantly.
The good old weapon and skill upgrades are still here.
I should also point out the great pacing of the game. They really did a good job of making you semi-relaxed and then unleashing hell on you and vice versa. I think I should also mention something that is taken for granted. With the exception of save stations, this game is continuous. That is, you will never see a loading screen, and your screen will never go dark for a few seconds; This game is like a continuous narration of a nightmare and you are the protagonist with emotions and aspirations. Consider other games and think of how many loading screens you will go through that interrupt the game play and mar the immersion.
Word of advice, count your shots and memorize how many shots it takes to kill a necromorph, there is a good chance you really didn't kill one.
The multiplayer is not bad. It may sound odd, but it's reminiscent of Left 4 Dead, only it's focused on much smaller areas. If you play as humans, you will have a few minutes to complete an objective, and that gameplay does feel like a co-op experience. If you play as the necromorph, you will have to stall and prevent the humans from completing their objective by spawning in strategic areas and working as a team. It's fun, but I doubt many will play the multiplayer in a few months.
Play it for the awesome singleplayer and its highest punishing difficulty.