Karen Talks Dead Space 2

Time to weigh in on this
Just under two years ago, I played an action-horror game called Dead Space. I really enjoyed it, and I wasn't the only one. Anybody who's been following me since then might recall a blog I wrote about how much my girlfriend got into the game, to the point where she wouldn't let me play any of it unless she was in the room with me. Earlier this year saw the launch of the sequel, Dead Space 2. Given how much we both enjoyed the first game, picking it up was a no-brainer. We spent the best part of three weeks slowly working our way through the game's single player campaign, and saw it come to an end about a week ago. I was thinking of writing a blog about it, but decided against it in favour of doing something slightly different. Given how much my girlfriend Karen enjoyed both games, I figured I'd let her write the blog for me - it seemed to me like a nice way to follow-up my blog on the first Dead Space, as well as sharing the opinions of a "non-gamer" with the Giant Bomb community. This is the result - a prose transcript of her half of a conversation we had about Dead Space 2 not long after finishing it. These are entirely her thoughts on the game - no input from me whatsoever. Readers should be warned that there are probably some minor spoilers to be found below - if you haven't finished Dead Space 2 yet and want the story preserved, look away now.
 

Karen Talks Dead Space 2


Atmosphere 

"I don't know whether to compare Dead Space 2 to Dead Space 1. If you ignore the first one, Dead Space 2 seems like it has a really tense and scary atmosphere. Most of the places in the game are shrouded in darkness and you never know if something is going to jump out at you. There are a lot of very weird and scary noises as well, machines and monsters and things, which happen suddenly and can catch you off-guard and scare you. Sometimes there's a noise in the game that leaves you expecting a monster, but the monster you're waiting for doesn't appear. That makes you feel very tense and nervous, because anything might or might not be a threat. Especially in darker rooms - when you can hear a monster, but can't see it until it's right on top of you, that's terrifying."
 
"If you compare it to the first one, though, it's not half as scary. The original Dead Space felt very isolated. You really felt like you were on your own, lost in the maze of the ship and relying on your two shipmates to guide you to the next objective. Dead Space 2 didn't feel the same to me. There was a lot more action. Things were always going on around you, and it never seemed like you were lost or stuck - just overwhelmed by the monsters. I think that's what I didn't like about Dead Space 2 the most. It was less about trying to scare you into thinking you'd be attacked, and more about just having the monsters attack you. The fact it feels less isolated makes it less scary for me."
 
"The flashbacks and the scenes with Nicole were some of the scariest moments through most of the game. It always seemed to happen when you were least expecting it - just walking through an ordinary corridor and the screen would suddenly flash and Nicole's voice would be screaming at you. When you have to go back on the old ship and Isaac has that flashback of being dragged through the corridor by the tentacle, that really scared me too."
 
"Some of the new monsters are really good additions to the world. The raptor-like ones that charge at you, I hated those. And the kids that run at you and scream as well. They helped to make up for the game lacking in atmosphere. I didn't like the fact there weren't really any big bosses though. I liked the big fights in the first game - the monster in the zero-gravity chamber, and the final boss as well. Dead Space 2 didn't really seem to have any of that. It had the regenerating monster near the end which was scary at first, but it just got annoying after a while. No really big bosses, though."

Isaac

"I'm glad they made Isaac talk in this one. I prefer him talking than silent. I do kind of miss the way that you could put yourself in his shoes and project yourself onto him in the first game. I think that made the story a lot more interesting. But I don't think Dead Space 2 would have worked if Isaac didn't talk. It let them try and do new things with the story and it suited the game's action focus a lot more. I do kind of wish his dialogue was a bit better though. Every time he's talking to someone on the radio frequencies and they get cut off, he swears. It's always "shit", or "crap", or "fuck" at the end of nearly every conversation in the game. They're trying to make it seem tense and dangerous but it just comes off as silly after a while."
  
"It's good that Isaac is so fragile in these games. In some of the games I've seen, you can take about a hundred shots before you die. I prefer it in the Dead Space games - a few hits and Isaac is in real trouble. And you have to use health packs to heal yourself up. That makes a lot more sense than hiding behind something to magically heal. It's more realistic, and it makes fighting feel even more dangerous knowing that these monsters can chop you to pieces in no time at all."

Story

"I didn't really enjoy the story as much in this game. The first Dead Space had a simple way of telling its story. It kept things logical and straightforward, so everything you were doing made sense in the situation. It kept the player in the dark about a lot of what was going on, but it worked and made you feel even more isolated. In Dead Space 2, there's so much being thrown at you that it gets too confusing to follow. There's a lot more background knowledge in play, mainly because Isaac has a voice of his own now, but it isn't explained. Like with Isaac and Stross, and the Marker. Supposedly they made it somehow? But it's never explained how they made it. Not that I remember, at least. It all just seems so unfocused compared to Dead Space 1." 

Closing thoughts 

"I really liked Dead Space 2. It was great to go back into that world again, and the combination of scary moments with the action kept me interested all the way through. On the whole, though, I think I preferred the first Dead Space game. Dead Space 2 had too much action, too much convoluted story, and not enough atmosphere or isolation for me." 
  

Karen (transcribed by Dan) 
 
--- 
 
Currently playing - Pokémon White (DS)
8 Comments
9 Comments
Posted by dankempster
Time to weigh in on this
Just under two years ago, I played an action-horror game called Dead Space. I really enjoyed it, and I wasn't the only one. Anybody who's been following me since then might recall a blog I wrote about how much my girlfriend got into the game, to the point where she wouldn't let me play any of it unless she was in the room with me. Earlier this year saw the launch of the sequel, Dead Space 2. Given how much we both enjoyed the first game, picking it up was a no-brainer. We spent the best part of three weeks slowly working our way through the game's single player campaign, and saw it come to an end about a week ago. I was thinking of writing a blog about it, but decided against it in favour of doing something slightly different. Given how much my girlfriend Karen enjoyed both games, I figured I'd let her write the blog for me - it seemed to me like a nice way to follow-up my blog on the first Dead Space, as well as sharing the opinions of a "non-gamer" with the Giant Bomb community. This is the result - a prose transcript of her half of a conversation we had about Dead Space 2 not long after finishing it. These are entirely her thoughts on the game - no input from me whatsoever. Readers should be warned that there are probably some minor spoilers to be found below - if you haven't finished Dead Space 2 yet and want the story preserved, look away now.
 

Karen Talks Dead Space 2


Atmosphere 

"I don't know whether to compare Dead Space 2 to Dead Space 1. If you ignore the first one, Dead Space 2 seems like it has a really tense and scary atmosphere. Most of the places in the game are shrouded in darkness and you never know if something is going to jump out at you. There are a lot of very weird and scary noises as well, machines and monsters and things, which happen suddenly and can catch you off-guard and scare you. Sometimes there's a noise in the game that leaves you expecting a monster, but the monster you're waiting for doesn't appear. That makes you feel very tense and nervous, because anything might or might not be a threat. Especially in darker rooms - when you can hear a monster, but can't see it until it's right on top of you, that's terrifying."
 
"If you compare it to the first one, though, it's not half as scary. The original Dead Space felt very isolated. You really felt like you were on your own, lost in the maze of the ship and relying on your two shipmates to guide you to the next objective. Dead Space 2 didn't feel the same to me. There was a lot more action. Things were always going on around you, and it never seemed like you were lost or stuck - just overwhelmed by the monsters. I think that's what I didn't like about Dead Space 2 the most. It was less about trying to scare you into thinking you'd be attacked, and more about just having the monsters attack you. The fact it feels less isolated makes it less scary for me."
 
"The flashbacks and the scenes with Nicole were some of the scariest moments through most of the game. It always seemed to happen when you were least expecting it - just walking through an ordinary corridor and the screen would suddenly flash and Nicole's voice would be screaming at you. When you have to go back on the old ship and Isaac has that flashback of being dragged through the corridor by the tentacle, that really scared me too."
 
"Some of the new monsters are really good additions to the world. The raptor-like ones that charge at you, I hated those. And the kids that run at you and scream as well. They helped to make up for the game lacking in atmosphere. I didn't like the fact there weren't really any big bosses though. I liked the big fights in the first game - the monster in the zero-gravity chamber, and the final boss as well. Dead Space 2 didn't really seem to have any of that. It had the regenerating monster near the end which was scary at first, but it just got annoying after a while. No really big bosses, though."

Isaac

"I'm glad they made Isaac talk in this one. I prefer him talking than silent. I do kind of miss the way that you could put yourself in his shoes and project yourself onto him in the first game. I think that made the story a lot more interesting. But I don't think Dead Space 2 would have worked if Isaac didn't talk. It let them try and do new things with the story and it suited the game's action focus a lot more. I do kind of wish his dialogue was a bit better though. Every time he's talking to someone on the radio frequencies and they get cut off, he swears. It's always "shit", or "crap", or "fuck" at the end of nearly every conversation in the game. They're trying to make it seem tense and dangerous but it just comes off as silly after a while."
  
"It's good that Isaac is so fragile in these games. In some of the games I've seen, you can take about a hundred shots before you die. I prefer it in the Dead Space games - a few hits and Isaac is in real trouble. And you have to use health packs to heal yourself up. That makes a lot more sense than hiding behind something to magically heal. It's more realistic, and it makes fighting feel even more dangerous knowing that these monsters can chop you to pieces in no time at all."

Story

"I didn't really enjoy the story as much in this game. The first Dead Space had a simple way of telling its story. It kept things logical and straightforward, so everything you were doing made sense in the situation. It kept the player in the dark about a lot of what was going on, but it worked and made you feel even more isolated. In Dead Space 2, there's so much being thrown at you that it gets too confusing to follow. There's a lot more background knowledge in play, mainly because Isaac has a voice of his own now, but it isn't explained. Like with Isaac and Stross, and the Marker. Supposedly they made it somehow? But it's never explained how they made it. Not that I remember, at least. It all just seems so unfocused compared to Dead Space 1." 

Closing thoughts 

"I really liked Dead Space 2. It was great to go back into that world again, and the combination of scary moments with the action kept me interested all the way through. On the whole, though, I think I preferred the first Dead Space game. Dead Space 2 had too much action, too much convoluted story, and not enough atmosphere or isolation for me." 
  

Karen (transcribed by Dan) 
 
--- 
 
Currently playing - Pokémon White (DS)
Posted by Oni

It read like she didn't enjoy the second one very much, but I suppose that's because she kept comparing it to the first one, which she liked better. I agree with her on the story, but I think Dead Space 2 was a lot more tense to me, I didn't find the first one all that scary. The constant attacks, and noises like she mentioned, combined with some great jump scares made me pretty on edge. Sometimes a Necromorph would just come out of nowhere or from behind me and scare the fuck outta me. Because the psychological horror stuff they tried to do in both games is kind of lost on me, in that I didn't find it all that scary or affecting, the more tense, panicky nature of the second game made it more tense, to me. Also it was a bit harder, at least from what I can remember of the first game.
 
The lack of bosses in DS2 didn't bother me so much, because they were so goddamn easy in the first one - glowing weak points, got it. And all three (?) bosses in the first game had exactly the same weak points! I liked the large zero G section in space outside of the sprawl a lot, and that point where Isaac catapults himself was really awesome as well. Overall, it's kind of a wash - I enjoyed both games a lot. Dead Space felt more 'fresh' at the time because of the then-new setting and combat/monster design, which Dead Space 2 didn't have as much. The story in both games is kind of garbage (I called the twist at the end of the first game ages before it happened), so again, a wash in that area. I wouldn't put one above the other so much, though if I had to replay either one now, it'd be the second one. Probably because I played through 1 three times and only finished 2 once.

Posted by LiK

DS2 rawks.

Posted by jozzy

Interesting post, she should write about some other games as well.

Posted by ApolloJ85

DS1 was definitely far better designed to instill a permanent state of fear in the player.
 
That being said, DS2 didn't suffer too much from the change of atmosphere. The set pieces were creative, the pace frantic, and the dismembering was better than before. It was just a different game, and I think it was a better one.
 
The story did go off the rails and really failed to explain much about what was happening. Having seen the the companion movie to the game, I suspect Stross was a far deeper character to me than to those that didn't see it. But I was still in the dark when trying to understand the finer points of the story.

Posted by big_jon

I think one of the most powerful moments in this game was revisiting the Ishimura, scary stuff at midnight.

Posted by Red12b

It sounds like she would dig Silent hill, have you guys played through that togeather?  
 
Also, if she is into it Resi 4,  
 
Posted by dankempster
@jozzy: I enjoyed reading back over her points when putting together the transcription. It's quite refreshing to read about games from the perspective of somebody who doesn't play them. Especially when their opinion goes so far beyond what a lot of people might expect from them. 
 
@big_jon: I can't speak for my girlfriend, but that was definitely one of my favourite moments of the game. It seemed to shun gunplay almost altogether in favour of ramping up the tension. Those UV-lit corridors were some of the game's most unsettling environments as well. 
 
@Red12b: We played through Silent Hill 2 last year and she loved it. We also played through Resident Evil 5  last year, which she didn't dig quite as much. I've tried to persuade her that 4 is a better game, and I'm sure we'll end up giving that a run-through in the future too.  
 
@Oni: I think a lot of my girlfriend's points stem from being a spectator rather than a player. Take the bosses, for example. As a player, I agree with you that the bosses in Dead Space were on the easy side, and I didn't miss them too much in DS2. As somebody watching the action unfold, though, I could imagine being a bit disappointed by not seeing any enormous boss Necromorphs this time around.
Posted by murse2008

Your girlfriends opinions are far more informed and intelligent than the majority of posts I read on game forums. Makes me wish more "non-gamers" would play and post.