Despite a few reservations (mainly to do with the reliance on backtracking-style missions), I loved the first Dead Space. The sci-fi setting was a nice twist to the survival horror genre and it presented moments of truly crushing solitude as you fought your way through a location that was isolated in deep space, as well as moments of jaw dropping awe. The first time you see the shattered moon Aegis VII through the mangled hull of the USG Ishimura still stands out among the cooler moments in video gamedom, and that was just one of several memorable scenes.
Dead Space 2 takes what works from the original game and does not attempt to reinvent it, rather it simply adds to it — sometimes to a fault. If the style of the original game was not for you, then the sequel won’t be either. Almost nothing has changed between the two games in terms of gameplay. There are a few minor tweaks, and the character movements are a bit less stiff than before, but the mechanics remain the same. The game delivers an incredible atmosphere and the pacing is designed so well that the lack of new tricks isn’t a major deal, but it is surprising. Ultimately it doesn’t matter though because the game is good enough that you overlook the minor stuff.
The campaign for Dead Space 2 plays out like a movie, forcing you through a sick and twisted world down a very linear story and path. The pacing is handled with a cinematic feel in mind, and you can tell that a great deal of care was put into the flow of the game. Often you will be alone, walking through deserted hallways when suddenly the world goes insane and you are forced to fight off waves of enemies that want to do terrible things to you. Then just as suddenly as it began, you will find yourself alone again, only this time far more paranoid. Dead Space 2 offers a few legitimate scares, and more than once you will find yourself on edge while nervously looking for supplies.
Of every survival horror title made, Dead Space 2 is among the very best at balancing the supplies versus the action, constantly keeping you nervous about your health and ammo. Several times you will leave a fight injured and with no ammo, but proud to have survived. That is due to the work of Visceral Games, and they deserve recognition for it.
As far as the negatives, there are only a handful of new weapons which is a shame, and there are sections that become repetitive. A few times you will feel like you have fallen into a pattern which robs the game of much of the thrill of the next attack or scare, but in general the game moves at a solid pace. There are a few things that prevent Dead Space 2 from receiving perfect marks, but it is still one of the best survival horror games around, and it sets a new high water mark for the genre.