Game of the Week: Dead Space 2

I wanted them to call it "Dead Spaces".

It's fair to say our attention has been fixed upon the Far East for the last 48 hours. An elongated home console generation means that we've lost the regular rush of excitement, speculation and punditry that accretes in the run up to a platform launch, and even if the Next Generation Portable turns out to be an overhyped dog when it arrives later this year, which seems unlikely at first glance, we owe Sony thanks for reminding us that gaming is about more than creativity sometimes it's about geeking out over tech as well.

The NGP announcement also means that Eurogamer reviews editor Oli Welsh, who usually writes these things, only stumbled off a plane a few minutes ago and probably has no idea where he is, what day it is or why I keep sending him emails entitled "NEO GEO POCKET FOREVER". As a result it's left to me to put forward January's final Game of the Week in my own particular idiom. Dirk Kuyt Dirk Kuyt Dirk Kuyt. Fortunately for me, the games industry is still asleep, so it hasn't been a very difficult decision.

Dead Space 2

Ta-da! You know what though? This might look like a given, but Dead Space 2's critical success was by no means inevitable. Long-time Eurogamer contributor Dan Whitehead was criticised by a lot of you for not "getting" Dead Space when it came out two years ago and we gave it 7/10, but I have to confess I didn't get it either.

It was a wonderful scare machine, no doubt, and had pleasantly slicey combat, but the storytelling and objectives didn't do much to hold my attention and the perfunctory upgrades blunted my interest pretty quickly too. Whether or not you agree with us, even a die-hard fan would have to admit there was still room in the dark, foreboding corridors of the USG Ishimura for improvement.

Congratulations to Visceral Games, then, because Dead Space 2 leaves little such room in The Sprawl.

Dead Space 2's mother-scaring first 15 minutes.

As Simon Parkin explains in our 9/10 Dead Space 2 review, the game puts you back in the space boots of Isaac Clarke but wastes little time kitting you out with all the best tools you found two years ago, and some new ones. One of the best, however, isn't a gun or some other fiendish industrial tool put to new use it's your newfound psychological baggage.

Externally, Isaac is assailed by every scare Visceral can muster cries in the darkness, hints of movement, sudden shocks, and the anxiety of never having enough of the things you need to survive but he is also haunted by the events of the first game. If you're not busy carefully lasering the limbs from your Necromorph adversaries, you're almost certainly being mistreated by the antisocial network of terrors Visceral's assembled in your head.

Videogame sequels often rehash their predecessors in predictable and self-defeating fashion at some point or other; as with LittleBigPlanet 2 earlier this month though, Dead Space 2 doesn't just avoid that fate, it uses the outcome of its antecedent thoughtfully. It would be nice to have more original productions to look forward to this year, but if we are to make do mostly with sequels we can but hope that they're all this well executed.

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