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Dead Space 2 is a jump into the darkness. This is an unfettered rush of life sapping enemies, shocks and gore. For some reason though, it's a lot of fun.
I was too young when the first Dead Space game was released. I have vivid memories of catching glimpses of my older siblings playing it late at night, half intrigued and half scared by what I might see.
A couple of years on and I'm playing the game myself. It's kind of funny as I don't feel all that much older. Regardless of that, I'm starting to see why Dead Space was so popular, and how these horror games can really make you very scared.
Unlike Dead Space Extraction (Wii) that was scary because of what it didn't show you, Dead Space 2 is unsettling because of what you do see. It's set in a sprawling city and from the moment it starts you are under a barrage of shocks, gore and pulsing fear.
Dead Space 2 may not be understated or subtle, but it makes up for this with the sheer amount of energy it throws as each and every opportunity to unnerve you. Most of this focuses on your exploration of the city and gun combat encounters. The alien Necromorphs screech their way onto the screen and send you fumbling for a firearm.
The speed and direction of this experience holds up because the lighting and sound work together to create something very convincing. Even playing the game with a group of girlfriends (safety in numbers and all that), it was shrieks and elevated heart rates all round no matter how tough we made ourselves out to be.
Running through the game is the sense that you are on the edge of insanity. As the narrative twists and turns it often feels like you are in free-fall towards the asylum, while at the same time leaving uncertainty to maintain the suspense.
There are real stand out moments too. Running low on ammunition for instance and my friends would be shouting at me to use various items in the environment to defend myself. The feeling of desperately laying my hand to whatever was in front of me to fend off the alien attackers was completely nerve wracking - in an enjoyable way.
This ability to find creative solutions when you are in a corner comes from your character's telekinesis skills. Although a little tricky at first, it becomes both a useful tool for survival as well as a clever way for the game to get you to engage with the beautiful spaces in which it places you.
I've played quite a few third-person shooting games, but none have the sense of place or genuine blood chilling appeal of Dead Space 2. While it doesn't have the finesse or cinematic cut scenes of Uncharted 2 (PS3) or the mystery suspense of Alan Wake (360), it walks its own path and creates something genuinely original.
I can see why it's an 18 rating now, and I wouldn't want my younger brother playing it any time soon. But for those who are old enough, Dead Space 2 offers the chance to jump into the abyss and see it rushing towards you. It was such a thrill for me that I'm about to go back and play the first game in the series to see how it stands up.
Somehow it endeared itself to me and made me want to play.
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