Necromorphs under the bed: Not having fun with dead space 2.

I want to talk about dead space 2. Yes, I know it came out a long time ago, but I live on a budget and only buy games when they are cheap.

Now I loved the first dead space and consider it to be one of the finest games of this generation and while the discussion of the horror nature of the original dead space compared to its sequel has been discussed in depth and I tend to agree with the consensus, what I want to talk about today specifically is something in games that often gets ignored when compared to the other heavyweight components that are usually considered when judging a game to be great, good, or bad... that is, the difficulty curve.

You might say that it is an insignificant thing to talk about, but a well balanced difficulty curve can make or break a game. And the balancing of a such a curve is no simple matter. Especially when you have multiple difficulty settings and a free form upgrade system that lets the player become more competent only when they choose and in the direction that they decide.

The original dead space, true to its resident evil inspirations, abandoned the player in a claustrophobic surrounding and let them run away from the starring space zombies, the necromorphs, equipped only with the bare essentials. You struggled and you suffered. And then you gradually became more familiar with the nature of the combat system, found the weapons that worked for you, saved up resources to sell for cash just to buy some more sweet sweet power nodes so as to upgrade your weapons and over the course of the game Isaac the silent protagonist grew into something extremely capable and unafraid in this dark space ship of the walking dead. You, as the player, grew to overcome your fears. At one point, months after beating the game, I actually had a nightmare about being attacked by a monster, and then inside my dream I pulled a plasma cutter out of my back pocket and instantly knew that everything was going to be OK. The game was a typical power fantasy in a sense, if only in the way that you began out of your depth, and by the end were comfortably treading water at the surface.

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Critical Analysis

As a long time fan of the site who has never posted anything, I thought it was about time I give something back. This is the introduction for 'a critical analysis of fun', a blog in which I share my thoughts on some of the games that I have been playing.

These thoughts do not amount to a review. The idea here is not to pass overall judgements on the worth of a game, but rather to dissect the pieces of a certain game and look at each in turn for what it is. We're here to celebrate what's new and interesting, opine what is dated or irrelevant and more than anything challenge the general assumptions of game design in the interest of getting to the point: what is fun? and how can we make things more fun?

As a PhD student in science I have plenty of time in my day to put off research and ponder these esoteric questions and I'm interested in your opinions on the matter too, so feel free to post in the comments with your own perspectives.

So without further ado, lets begin.

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