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Best games of 2011: Dead Space 2 - More frightening the second time?

Living the scream...

We tried co-op for a couple of days," admits executive director Steve Papoutsis during our latest hands-on session with Dead Space 2. "

"Going back all the way to the original game, we turned on two Isaacs and had them running around the Ishimura. But in order to deliver on a compelling co-op experience we would need to say, 'this is important to the game and this is important to the story'.

For Dead Space, it didn't make sense." So full campaign co-op is something that's going to have to wait for another day and another game, but that's a decision we welcome with open arms, given that Resi 5's campaign was a let down of turd-in-the-birthday-cake proportions, all because it was designed for two players.

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Visceral is keen to avoid those same pitfalls, and a key part of maintaining the quality control involves ensuring the team isn't spread too thin.

Case in point: Dead Space Extraction. The one-time Wii exclusive is now heading in Sony's direction as part of a special edition, but there's no Kinect-abled version for 360s.

"Sony have been great partners and were really excited about Extraction going way back. The Move is similar to the controls we use in the original game so it was just a perfect fit."

Reworking the game for Kinect, however, just seemed like too big an undertaking, and Papoutsis is wary about siphoning resources off for too many side projects.

"Any time a platform creator is exploring alternate avenues of control it's great because it's going to push developers to think outside the box. Kinect, I think, is going to be interesting. It's got a very clear space that it's going to be really good for. Certain types of games.

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"But if we were going to try to do something we would have to commit to it and dedicate a number of people so we give it our best. From that perspective, if you're trying to support all these different control mechanisms and all these different consoles there is a risk of spreading your team too thin. You need to focus on the 'big ticket items', so to speak."

BROWNIAN MOTION
The philosophy is working wonders and though we're lacking Extraction we've still got a genre-defining game to look forward to.

When we jump back into the Sprawl we're instantly reminded why we've been calling Dead Space 2 the Resi 4 of this generation.

It's a horror masterclass; a survival actioner with frightening standoffs against swarms of creatures so powerful that, even individually, they pose genuine threats to your life with every battle.

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Isaac's tightened controls makes navigating corridors a pleasingly fluid action, while the Zero-G space flight sections are therapeutic: a perfect comedown from the heart-in-the-mouth necromorph attacks to be found on either side.

If there's one thing we've discovered it's that Dead Space 2 is far, far harder than the original. Visceral really wants you to die. Probably because they've designed some corking animations for when you do kick the bucket.

Whether it's from monsters leaping out from destructible bits of scenery mere millimetres from your face and doing something totally unexpected (such as gobbing a stream of acid at your head when you retreat), or from time-sensitive QTE-like boss chase sequences which end in squishy messes if you fail to work out your next move (in the sequence we played against an onrushing behemoth, we had to stasis the enemy and quickly telekinesis an escape hatch open), you'll be reaching for the restart checkpoint option far more often this time around.

2011 is kicking off with a gaming explosion big enough to blow your controller clean out of your hands. And of all the massive hitters coming in those early months, Dead Space 2 is surely the game to beat. Get excited

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