After Hours

Geek Gifts 2011: Dead Space 2

According to Sonja Thompson, if you like third-person shooter video games and enjoy the adrenaline rush of being scared, you're going to love Dead Space 2.

Dead Space 2 was released on Jan. 25, 2011. This third-person shooter game, developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts, is truly a nightmare - and for survival horror fans, that's a very good thing.

The original Dead Space hit the market by storm in October of 2008, and gamers who were brave enough to play it were left sitting on the edge of their seats for more. Not surprisingly, Dead Space 2 was even a bigger hit, outselling its predecessor 2-to-1.

The main character, Isaac Clarke, is the same in both games, and as the name indicates, they take place in an outer space facility. The differences between the two games are in the plot and storyline, plus Dead Space 2 offers a Multiplayer mode. This series has definitely given profound meaning to the phrase "gruesomely divine."


  • Genre: Survival Horror Third-Person Shooter
  • ESRB Rating: Mature
  • Price: Originally $59.99, but now selling on Amazon for $39.99 (Xbox 360), $28.99 (PS3), and $27.99 (PC)
  • Console: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
  • Screenshots: Check out the Dead Space 2 photo galleries by CNET and GameSpot.

What I like

  • Suspense - Unlike other games (single-player campaign mode in Black Ops), one of the most thrilling things about Dead Space 2 is that it is not repetitious. In fact, from the very beginning of the game, I had the same heart-palpitating feeling of walking through a haunted house on Halloween. And it's not just the necromorphs that make you jump in your seat - it's a sudden blast of air, a clattering sound, crawling through an air vent, and having to defend yourself against an unexpected visitor in an elevator half way through the game when you've gained a false sense of security in those close spaces. Really, no place is safe.
  • Visual effects - I played Dead Space and Dead Space 2 on a PS3, so I can really only speak about the game play from this device. The graphics and images are amazing - from the dream-like horror of Isaac's dead girlfriend, Nicole, to the blood splatter and separation of body parts as you control Isaac to stomp on the necromorphs to 1) make sure they're dead and 2) receive addition perks, such as credits (money), health, stasis, and ammo.
  • Real language - Or real vulgar language, I should say. There's a reason why some moms may hate Dead Space 2, but this mom actually enjoyed it. Of course, it's rated as a Mature game, so I wouldn't advise any parent to buy it for their young kid (or let them watch while you play, unless you want them crawling in to your bed at night). The gruesome graphics aside, Issac often says very inappropriate things that are perfectly appropriate at the time, like "Die!" "Damn it!" "Sh!t!" and other expletives. I know that I would certain drop the F-bomb if I found myself in similar situations.

What I don't like

  • Multiplayer mode isn't near as much fun as playing the storyline. I'm not sure how many people are really into Dead Space 2 online, but there have been several times when my system couldn't even find enough players to begin a match. During each game, you play half of it as a necromorph and the other half as a human - teams are split between the two. And even though it's kind of cool to have the perspective of four different creepy creatures, each with it's own special abilities and attacks, I think I would enjoy a Multiplayer mode where the online gamers band together as humans against computer-controlled necromorphs (similar to Nazi Zombies from the Call of Duty series). Another downside of Multiplayer mode is that the online pass code is only available once, so if you purchase a used copy of Dead Space 2, you'll have to shell out a few more bucks for online play.
  • While I really like the weapons and special abilities in Dead Space 2, they aren't significantly different from the original game. My second time playing it through, I moved several weapons to my Safe area - like the Flamethrower, Ripper, and Javelin Gun - and just kept the four in my Inventory that were fully upgraded and could wreak the most havoc - namely, the Plasma Cutter, Line Gun, Force Gun, and Pulse Rifle. The other weapons for purchase at the Shop (the occasional kiosk that Isaac encounters in the storyline, not to be confused with the PlayStation Store) include the Contact Beam, Seeker Rifle, and Detonator.
  • There were a lot of twists and turns in Dead Space 2, but it only took me three evenings to complete the entire game. Of course, I played the game on the easiest setting - Casual mode - so that I could check every corner, open every door, and uncover every experience possible in the game. Yeah, it was great - but I sure did want more.

Bottom Line for Geeks

Dead Space 2 is an action-packed game that will keep your adrenaline pumping. However, its graphic content - which I likened to walking through a haunted house - isn't for everyone. Simply put, don't play this game if you don't like being startled or scared. Personally, I'm a fan of this series and can't wait to stomp, dismember, and overall obliterate necromorphs and other scary creatures in the sequel.

Geek Gift Score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: *****
  • Geek Factor: ***
  • Value: *****
  • Overall: *****

For more reviews of tech gadgets, gizmos, games, and books, download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2011.


Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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