Previews

Dead Space 2 gameplay preview

We delve into Visceral's nightmarish sequel...

Right now, the inability to spark up is surely the least of Isaac's worries. He's fending off three of The Pack - sharp-toothed, ashen-skinned demonic toddlers, thirsty to burst through his all-new shiny space suit.

Yet a strikingly everyday No Smoking sign hangs very visibly behind the carnage. Somehow, we doubt he's got time to stop for a ciggy break.

Incongruous it may be, but the foreboding red ring is symptomatic of the real-world flecks that crop up all over Dead Space 2's murky universe - from muscle man-branded reinforced glass to non-descript, garishly colourful ads for 'Peng' (propped up by the toothy come hither smirk of a Far Eastern beauty).

They represent a step forward in decorative diversity from the original title's uniform murky, metallic corridors. But it's not just the ornate touches that separate Isaac's new surroundings from that of the first, bowel-loosening Dead Space.

"Dead Space 2 is all about strategically using your environment," producer Steve Papoutsis tells CVG as he walks Isaac through an underground mining pit - festooned with all-new enemies, all keen to chew on our be-helmeted heroes' jugular.

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Almost everything in Dead Space 2, we're told, is a weapon - from the spiky dismembered arms of necromorphs to shards of recently shattered glass walls.

It's all possible due to two things: Visceral's implementation of real-world physics and 'Isaac 2.0', a freshly improved protagonist with a far quicker Kinesis ability, which makes pretty much anything in his vicinity an instant, makeshift weapon.

SPACE-IAL AWARENESS
Dead Space 2 is set three years after the original, chilling title. You're back as Isaac, this time on Titan - one of the moons of Saturn (which, incidentally, is rather beautifully visible from your space station window). Your world is 'The Sprawl' - a depressing metropolis, where neon skyscrapers share your peripheral with giant flames of star-tickling proportions.

Why 'Isaac 2.0'? Because, he has new weapons, new abilities - and that kick-ass new suit. "In the first game, Isaac was a bit of a little errand boy," explains Papoutsis. "Now he calls the shots."

And just calls, it seems. Isaac has been blessed with a voice for the first time - not that we get to hear it in our short preview - and reveals his face.

Again, we're not offered the pleasure, but we're taking a punt on a chiselled, fashion-stubble kinda guy - a world away from the most devilish, hideous new enemy CVG witnesses him encounter in DS2: The Stalker.

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A pink and crimson, fleshy beast, these muthas hunt in packs. They look disgusting, obviously - all sinewy, rib-displaying torso and jagged extremities. But the way they move is downright creepy.

Two back legs scuttle furiously towards us, as the Stalkers tuck their front arms behind their back. It's as if three giant, sabre-toothed turkeys have been infected with the Rage virus. It's not only upsetting, it's downright weird - which brings a whole new dimension. Sound ridiculous? Try sniggering when they're circling you in an unlit, disused multi-storey car park.

NEVER OUTGUNNED
Isaac obviously has a few tricks up his sleeve to dispense with these grotesque foes. Papoutsis shows off the new javelin gun, which - beautifully - does exactly what it says, pinning the skulls of ugly Necromorphs to the wall. Steve Backley would run a mile.

The first Stalker is frozen with Stasis - we had to get a good gander for the turkey reference, you understand - then torpedoed without much fuss.

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