Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Thoughts on Dead Space 2

Introduction
So I just finished Dead Space 2 and wanted to discuss it a bit. Mainly because it is a perfect example of some trends in game design that I find are really harmful. I also find that it has some moments that could have been brilliant if just slightly changed, making it extra interesting to discuss.

Before going into the actual critique I want to say that the game did have some enjoyable parts, especially the at times absolutely amazing scenery. Dead Space 2 just radiates production value and it is a very well-put together game. I quite liked a lot of it and it is one of the few games in recent memory that I played until the end. The game has very nice atmosphere in places and even attempts at a sort of meaningful theme(more on that later).

At the same time, it is very clear that Dead Space does not aim for any real sophistication. For instance, you need to stomp on dead mutant children to get hold of goodies and gore is quite excessive. In many ways, the game is much closer to Dead Alive (Braindead) than to something like Alien, and should probably be judged that way. However, in the following discussion I will approach the game as if the goal was to create a tense sci-fi horror game.

With that out of the way, let's get down to business.


Cheap deaths
When I started the game, I was not in the best of moods (being a bit agitated), but I did what I could, darkened the room and so on. Everything to heighten immersion. As the game started out, it began with a non-playable sequence, something which made me relax and slowly immerse myself. Once the game actually began and I gained control, my mood had changed quite a bit and I felt I was ready to be immersed and role-play. Then after just playing for 30 seconds or so, I took a wrong turn and died.

This broke all the immersion I had built up over 10 minutes or so, and I had to start all over. The intent was probably to communicate the danger to the player, but this could have been made a lot better. Why not simply hurt the protagonist, or something similar, giving in-game feedback that the player should be very careful. After I had died and gotten a loading screen, I had to build up my mood again almost from scratch.

The same thing happened at the end of game, where you need complete a sort of chase-sequence before the final cinematic. I was unsure of the controls in this sequence and died just before it was over. Just like with the death at the start, this completely spoiled my mood and removed any emotional impact the ending might have had. Instead of becoming an exciting sequence, it became an obstacle and I concentrated on the pure mechanics instead of role-playing.

Having cheap deaths during immersive/emotional events like this is just lazy design. The sequences are meant to be completed in a specific fashion anyway, so I cannot understand what can be gained by having players restart over and over until they "get it". Sure it adds some kind of excitement, but this is greatly removed on subsequent attempts anyway, not speaking of how bad this is for immersion and role-playing. And considering there are other ways to add consequences to actions, I do not think it is a valid reason. It is just falling back to old and uninspired design.


Saving Progress
Scattered across the game are save stations, all using an interface similar to 20 year old games. I do not understand why these are in, as it is the most immersion-breaking device one can think of. Having to enter a menu, and choose a slot in which to save, has no connection to the game world at all. Consoles nowadays have large hard drives (and save games can be made very small) so it cannot be a technical limitation like in older games. I am guessing it is just another case of falling back to old design patterns, and again I think it is totally unnecessary.

The way I save games in systems like this is to loop through the visible slots (usually four), always picking the oldest save game to overwrite. That way I have three older save games to go back to in case something screws up. As this is basically the system we emulate in Penumbra and Amnesia, and nobody has raised any complaints on that, I guess I am not alone in saving like this. So, if one still wants to use the save stations, my first suggestion would be to simply skip the interface and just save upon interaction. If players want to go back to certain places have a "Save Game" option in the menu or simply a chapter selection.

But why stop at that? I would have liked the game to skip saving altogether and do it automatically for me. Dead Space 2 implements resource streaming extremely well and you never feel like you travel between different maps, but roam a continuous environment. Not having any kind of visible save system would fit this design perfectly and most likely increase atmosphere.


Repetition
It seems quite clear to me that Dead Space 2 tries very hard to provide a lengthy adventure (took me 10 hours or so go through) and to do so it repeats many elements over and over. This is something that exists in just about any game, where the goal of having filling a certain length quota trumps pacing, story development and the like.

For example, I really liked the first time the protagonist is forced to crawl through a ventilation shaft, but the tenth time this was repeated it just felt old and uninspired. Instead of trying to come up with new ways to create similar moments, the first one used is just recycled. Another example is the hacking mechanic that was served as an interesting diversion the first time, but ended up being an unwanted frustration.

You rarely see this sort behavior in other media (at least the good works). It is only in games where an, at first intriguing and noteworthy, event/idea is repeated until tedium. I would much rather have a shorter game that constantly bombards me with unique and inspiring sequences.

Dead Space 2 does do this right at a few times though. For instance, one section has the protagonist hanging upside while enemies swarm from all directions. This sequence is never repeated and not even dragged out. I would have liked to see that for all parts of the game.


Looting and Shooting
I might be that I am slightly disturbed, but I find shooting limbs of monsters a great pastime. Especially with the fun and greatly varied arsenal that Dead Space 2 provides. So much did I enjoy it in fact that it is hard to focus on much else. Sure, some of the fighting can be pretty intense with enemies swarming you, but not that much different from how a game like Tetris can be. Added to this is the focus on upgrading the weapons and finding ammo/money, which further brings your mindset toward the shooting part of the game.

I have talked about how focusing on fun can be bad before, and Dead Space 2 is such a perfect example. Your main motivation to explore the environment is not to get deeper into the story or to enjoy the art, instead it is to search for goodies. Because the game constantly bombards you with items popping up and force you to pay attention to them (you will run out of ammo otherwise), this becomes the main thing occupying your mind. Everything else is simply pushed into the background, which is really a shame consider the epic set pieces and sometimes interesting background facts. In their effort to comply with "fun" gaming standards, the creators have actually let much of their hard work go to waste.

I must add that the combat was not completely un-scary though. I started out playing on normal, and at one point, my resources had almost run out, which made me much more careful and tense when I thought monsters might be near. As I was put in this state, it completely transformed how I approached the game, and I started to pay more attention to background sounds and the like. Unfortunately, as I died the combat sequences stopped being scary and instead became tedious challenges in resource management. This together with the increased urge to find hidden items, killed most of the atmosphere to me. I then change to easy difficulty and could enjoy the game more as I did not have to worry about looting or combat strategies as much.


Story
Dead Space 2 does have a story, but you will have to make an effort to find and experience it. As if the focus on combat was not enough, the actual story seems to be consciously pushed into the background. I can actually only recall one time when you had to actively confront the story (reading a note gives a clue on solving a puzzle). The rest of the story just plays out in the background and as a player you are pushed on by the urge of upgrading weapons and dismember mutants.

The game does have some interesting aspects though, for example trying to tie the entire game up with the protagonist's grief, but since it is so drawn out and overwhelmed by other elements, it does not really work. Another intriguing part of the game are some earlier sequences where you encounter people fleeing from monsters and people locked up in cells. Hearing the hammering of somebody wanting your help was quite disturbing and had they just added some kind of interaction related to this (like try to open the door) it could have been extremely effective. Instead it was just pushed into the background.

One of the story things that I did really enjoy was how a recording spoke of the material of a ceiling in an upcoming room. When entering the room your attention is directly drawn up and you could relate the recording, graphics and background story to each other in a nice way. I really wished the game had a lot more of this.


Motivation
In the first Dead Space you played the part of a silent errand boy, something that the creators tried to change in the sequel. The way they try to do this is to make the protagonist an active character and make his own decisions. However, I think this sort of backfired and in Dead Space 2 I had even less of an idea on what is going on. Several times I had to check the "mission log" in order to find out what I was up to, and to find out the reasons for this. Since the protagonist was already talking, I wished he could have done this just a little more, explaining his action and reminding me, the player, of what I was supposed to do.

This also connects to the way the story is told, and further distances the player from the events in the game. Instead of deciding for yourself what the right course of action is, you just follow the game's instructions in hope that will allow you to progress. So while in the previous game you followed the commands of in-game characters you now follow the commands game's interface. This is of course much less immersive.


End notes
Playing Dead Space 2 made me both sad and hopeful.

Sad because I feel there is so much excellent work that has gone to waste and that I keep wondering if there will ever be any change to this. For every game i play I feel that there is so much potential lost due to following old and dull game conventions.

Hopeful because while there is much I do not like, it feels that there is not that much needed to totally transform the experience. Simply removing all combat focus and making the game half as long would probably have created a much more interesting experience. The question is if that will ever happen, but now I am at least confident that it is possible.


43 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. glad to have some pros to point those out.
    i just tried DP2 and got bored easily. i don't really like rpg games, because of those long and boring story line and being forced to do a lot of things.
    at the beginning of the game you follow someone to the exit and when you get there its always too late. which is pretty pointless.

    love amnesia. true horror. third person shooter sucks,

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  3. Started replying on twitter, but what the hell. Better do it here:)
    Cheap deaths is a thing i can agree with you completely - they are not THAT often, but there are moments that feel broken, not challenging.
    "Ink ribbon"-like saving is a thing i personally love in survival horror games. It's not a perfect design and it doesn't appeal to everyone, but this feels like a good love letter to classic Resident Evil fans. What is interesting is your idea of interface-less saving. But it could've presented more problems than helped.
    Repetition is another thing i can agree on. Original DS tried to constantly feel new in the same-looking environment and it is strange that DS2 feels more "systematic", where you can constantly think "a lot of crates - running and hiding enemies", crawl through vents (which is always same), hacking. Though there is one great moment with a hacking game i don't want to spoil.
    Bu then you make a mistake of presuming that DS2 is a story-driven game, like your great games were. It's not, and never meant to be. DS2, like it's predecessor is designed to tell a story only for those, who want to listen. Everyone else can simply go with dismembering and looting. More feedback from Isaac could've been great (especially since it seems devs were influenced by Uncharted 2), but at the same time could've been distracting. I, for one, really hate when i'm being told where i need to go in games, where i can explore. And if you're lost, you can always use the "breadcrumb trail" - a feature i use to know where to go in the last place -_-.
    Dead Space 2 is more flawed than original simply because it tried to do more and made more mistakes on the way. But it's not Aliens after Alien. It's Resident evil 2+3 after Resident Evil 1. I think the only good alternative to DS2 could've been the lack of any sequel to the first game.

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  4. I wonder what your thoughts on Resident Evil 4 would be. I feel like many of your comments on Dead Space 2 also apply to that game (particularly lack of story, combat focus, "cheap death" sequences, and prevalence of looting) but I wonder if you thought that game was more or less successful, and why.

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  5. This is the most wonderful review I've ever read in my whole life.
    There is a joke in my country, "Watching Titanic movie as a mariner."
    I think the case here is exactly like that.

    I've written my own review with touching the game design elements, and I think there are a lot of things went to waste. So much work, maybe for weeks, just for seven seconds of gameplay? Oh God...

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  6. Steve gaynor:
    RE4 was fun in a monster/splatter movie sort of way. I did not see any potential in that game for being anything more than... well a normal monster/splatter game :)

    Dead Space 2 just have these bits that make me want the game to be something else. Resident Evil 4 is fine as is.

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  7. The deaths I am not so bothered by. Maybe as a veteran of the first game I had a better grasp of the mechanics than most average players, so during my entire playthrough I died maybe 4 or 5 times under overwhelming odds, which usually resulted in a pretty gruesome dying animation that lasted for several seconds (I remember one time where a monster surgically cut off both isaacs arms, after which he was left there standing, screaming, flailing for a while until he was finally flung against a wall). You can't really call it a reward, but somehow it eases the burden of dying somewhat.

    The ventilation shaft I actually quite enjoyed. The first three times I was scared to death a monster was going to come at me, but soon discovered that would never be the case, as you can also not pull a weapon while you're in there. During the mainframe sequence where you have to shut down ANTI it made me feel really cool though, like I was taking care of business, cheating the system by sneaking past it's defences. But the absence of danger inside generally makes them kinda lame. Recalling the maintenace shaft sequence in Event Horizon, they could have done so much more with it.

    I agree though that stomping the bodies for resources is super dumb, if not extremely cumbersome. It breaks the flow when I have to stop by every body to stomp it before I move on.

    I missed the abundance of audio logs the previous game had, it really adds to the atmosphere way more than reading some text log (of which there were way too many in comparison to the audio logs).

    And yes it's a shame there is no way to interact with the survivors early on. When they pitched the game before release, it spoke of Isaac being a security officer on Titan, commanding a team and solving problems, rescuing the crew. I found none of that in the actual game, which is too bad.

    I feel like they could have done much more with the guilt/hallucinations thing. Being on the Ishimura was one of the rare sections where it really came to fruition, but if they had focused on that and cut the monster occurrences in half it would have been a much scarier game.

    The saving I am on the fence about. I like interfaces that take care of all the work for me, but with these kind of games I also like to save manually right before an exciting section, so I can replay it later. And the autosave does a decent job of saving inbetween the save points, so you're never burdened with replaying a whole section.

    One of the most immersion-breaking things for me this time around were the bugs. Frequently a limb from a dead body would get caught between a door or in a vent, causing it to flap uncontrollably. Once a monster got stuck running into a corner, and at one point I came back from dying to find that the door I had just unlocked was indeed unlocked, but the invisible wall blocking it had not yet been removed. Similarly, after a reload I could not for the life of me align the solar panels correctly anymore, they just wouldn't snap.

    But overall I really enjoyed the game, some sections were insanely cool like the UV-lit med bay and the trek towards the solar panels and the subsequent basejump. Though I'd be very interested to see how you would handle a game like this.

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  8. That's why is Amnesia and Penumbra so special... Shooter can't be good horror game, it's just focused on action. I've never enjoyed games like Dead Space, F.E.A.R. or DOOM for horror content, but i can't say they're bad games, just i think there's no big difference between them and CoD, just other look. Penumbra was the first game that truly scared me and Amnesia is second:)

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  9. Fully agree with you in your review. I loved DS1 and 2, but they are nothing like the feelings I got playing other games. Some of my favs... System Shock 1 and 2, BioShock 1, Amnesia, Dark Corners of the Earth to name a few.

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  10. When it comes to scary games, there are few. Dead Space 2 did not frighten me and I put it in the same category as Resident Evil 4, which in my opinion still is the best in there. The Dead Spaces are the closest things to beat it.

    The atmosphere i RE4, art direction and graphics looked amazing at the time of release.

    A simple story with a really clear antagonist, cool characters (especially the bosses) provided the motivation for me to get stuck. The weapon upgrade system had some brilliant depth and the real bad need for better guns.

    It's about survival and keeping the enemies at bay. The gameplay is similar to Galaga and the feeling you get is closer to panic than fear.

    And that's a common and good working mechanic. However it doesn't make you fear the dark like you will in parts of Condemned, a few parts of Doom 3 and, of course, the game that almost perfects it : Amnesia.

    The FEAR games failed completely to put me in the right mood because they just bombed you from start with effects with no finesse at all. Decent action still.

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  11. dead space 2 its now, my faborite survival horror game, isaac its soepic in dead space 2.

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  12. I'd have to disagree with your idea that it ruined by being fun. Not all games are meant to be art, some are meant to be fun. This is very similar to TV, where shows aim to entertain rather than put across a point. The obvious reason that DS2 is maybe more fun than it should be is cost, they have to pay for the production and "the masses" prefer fun games. It would be interesting to see a game where you can toggle the funness, or perhaps have a fun version and an RP version released.

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  13. Tim H: Regarding ventilation shafts and not being able to pull out a weapon, I think that that hurts immersion as badly as anything else. It fits with the mechanics of the game, but it doesn't fit with the world since some of the monsters could clearly fit into and move through them.

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  14. There's some points that I agree and disagree but at the end is personal opinion. I've enjoyed the sequel a lot but I feel that there's something missing... don't know what.

    I agree with focusing on the story, more than the items. I ended up the game with like 1000 medkits! haha.

    But I give props to all the work that Visceral team did. Design, audio, etc. Is really impressive.

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  15. You died in the first 30 seconds?? You, sir, are an idiot. My 13 year old little brother got past the intro just fine.

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  16. The point he was making was that it was a stupid introduction that lost all the tension, you're thrown right into the action and you can get slaughtered right away... trail and error ,, its not survival horror at its best, far from it.

    You mr anonymous above is the idiot

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  17. When there's as much money and advertising behind a game like dead space 2 it's going to have to follow conventions, as any radical or overly challenging material is too risky.

    So in the end you get a very well polished game with all the sharp edges smoothed off and sealed in epoxy resin for safety.

    Sequels like this game are usually lack-lustre because they are made to satisfy big publishers and not out of love. They give themselves away with all the masses of advertising.

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  18. Hey! I came across the following blog post, and noticed something relevant: http://all-things-andy-gavin.com/2011/02/05/making-crash-bandicoot-part-4/

    If you guys haven't yet, I recommend reading the whole series. In that particular post though, it says:

    "So during the summer of 1995 we retrenched and tried to figure out how to make a level that was actually fun. The F word is the most important concept in making games. Too many forget this."

    Which I thought conflicted nicely with what some posts on this blog have been about :)

    Keep up the interesting posts!

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  19. Fun is subjective though.
    Some like blowing off the limbs of masses of critters, others like being thrown in a blood soaked closet while some hack-surgery zombie thing ravages the room while you're soiling yourself while yet another group enjoys watching fish constantly swimming around in their little bowl.

    You can't please em all, make it fun for the demographic you're aiming at. In the case of frictional games, that is likely the horror enthousiasts. The sims obviously is targeted at a completely different demographic. Make it fun for those you designed it for.

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  20. The goal of a game being to be fun or to be art or both doesn't really matter, what does matter is why. If its not based on what theyr ideas deem as something they really want to create and share but instead is of what they believe will sell, It will always always show.

    sadly deadspace feels like this to me as do most games.
    But still there are developers who still create what I could call "passion projects" and they turn out to be, sometimes lacking in places but still good experiances, very sincere and memorable.
    Other games might sell well but they probably wont be remembered as these games will, and well a good example- shadow of the colossus..

    As for resident evil 4, I really love that game. The music and art design all create a very heavy world. You play as leon who is quite a good character in my opinion. the whole game just felt very good. I loved it.


    I agree with most of what you say tho there is one game which seems things like dieing when it wouldnt always help to further the story and having a story in the backround don't seem to apply. For they are wholely experience driven, and those experiences are the players to create. Demon's souls comes to mind. You die alot, its a very harsh world. But this doesn't take away from the experience as when you die your not going back in terms of plot. and if you didn't die and the demon's werent very unforgiving (yet manageable so long as you pay attention) the goals and world wouldn't feel as true to their weight.
    As for the story, Its not so much pushed into the background as it is just not told to you so much by the characters or books or notes. It seemed to me to be an atmosphere driven game which has a story but wouldn't stoop to explain it for then the plot would feel set up or injected into characters who should otherwise not know these things."
    The few characters in the game tell you what they know and what they dont know builds within your mind and the fog which surrounds the castle creates a world to put it all.
    not really sure how to describe that.

    The game felt to be very very much like art tho. I experienced many emotions while playing and perhaps this really depends on who you are and what you take from it, but I for one was a knight in a very alien world exploring with my sword and shield on not so much a quest as just a curiosity and maybe some destiny, in a dangerous landscape of traps and demon's. I liked it! not just because it was fun but because it was interesting and dark and I felt immersed. I think this is because It was a "passion project" and if it were made to please the masses that would show through too, and somehow give it a quality that would ruin it as it does so so sooo many games. Amnesia is so good because I know you guys really have these ideas for games that you love to bring to life and that itself brings it to life, Im happy people like you exist.
    Good luck on your next game.

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  21. I played the first Dead Space and I was very disappointed. I didn't find it scary at all and by the sounds of things it hasn't much improved. The use of spatial non-diegetic elements in a horror game really show that EA don't know what they are doing.

    By the way, can we stop with all the anonymous morons that are stating the obvious about the industry and using that as a means of justification.

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  22. Haven't played Dead Space 2 yet so I cannot review it yet. But to add a comment you said about people exploring Amnesia for the story, I only explored the rooms I haven't been in ONLY FOR THE GOODIES!! true I cared about the notes but alot of the time I was looking for oil or tender or some other goodie like note. Now on to the saving function of Dead space, I do not think it should change since auto saving can really cause headache for people playing an ACTION horror game. Though I really wish they would have had some back tracking in the game (been watching LP's) since it's very easy to beat a game ios it is 100% linear since you do not have to worry about getting lost and walking into a death trap. As for the immersion I do not care how much ammo I have I am still scared shitless, due to the amazing atmosphere of Dead Space and I really do not want to have those things touching me, they are freaky! but honestly if you want them to change anything it would be best if you sent them your thoughts on the subject matter. Though remember this game is more ACTION horror than Amnesia is, so you really CANNOT compare the two. I am currently playing Dead Space for the 4th time and the environment and sounds really fuck with me! but so far in Dead Space 2 I have only received jump scares, sigh.

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  23. Oh and I gave Amnesia a 10 out of 10 in my review on my blog =D scariest game of 2010 and probably for many years to come, and Dead Space 1 was the scariest of 2008 if I am correct.

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  24. For the most part I found the level design of Dead Space 2 too confined and boring. I expected that The Sprawl, unlike USG Ishimura will offer wider and more varied environments and not just a bunch of copy-pasted corridors. There were some cool places in the game, but still too little when compared to the massive number of "filler" areas and that was the reason why I didn't even bother to finish the game (the same situation as the first game).

    The biggest problem however was that the story and the setting were already too predictable because of their similarity with numerous other titles and that combined with the over relying on the cheap scares completely ruined the atmosphere more than the questionable design conventions. Cursed Mountain for example has some of DS's flaws, but the unique setting and the bigger environment variety makes for a much more interesting experience.

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  25. Dead Space 2 - sucks, Amnesia - rulezzz !!!

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  26. "Your main motivation to explore the environment is not to get deeper into the story or to enjoy the art, instead it is to search for goodies. Because the game constantly bombards you with items popping up and force you to pay attention to them (you will run out of ammo otherwise), this becomes the main thing occupying your mind. Everything else is simply pushed into the background, which is really a shame consider the epic set pieces and sometimes interesting background facts. In their effort to comply with "fun" gaming standards, the creators have actually let much of their hard work go to waste."

    ***That's funny because I can say the same thing about how your motivation for playing Amnesia turns into a tinderbox and oil search. :) There must be a way to keep the same suspense about running out of lighting supplies without having to play the scavenger hunt game of having the player going into every room hunting in the corners and shelves and moving boxes and opening chests for tinder and oil.

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  27. Amnesia actually had ALOT more items at first and we removed much of this during the last half year of development. Still, I agree that there might be too much of items to pick up.

    It is a tricky situation though, since items can give an incentive to investigate closer at all. But at the same time, you do not want the item hunt to be the ONLY thing on the player's mind.

    Even though Amnesia is far from perfect, I hope most got a better experience regarding this than I did with DS2.

    In our next "super secret game" there will probably none of the normal item hunt kind of gameplay, but rather reward exploration in other ways. Will be interesting to see how it works!

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  28. My only motivation to explore in ANY horror game is items, I really could care less about the story at some points as long as I find goodies, but that can be a good thing. Sometimes in Amnesia, as soon as you pick up an item, it triggers an event where a monster tries to rape your face!

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  29. Dead Space 2 is a significantly better game then anything Frictional has produced, especially regarding padding and repetition.

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  30. I think you missed the point of dead space 2. For what it is, and was designed for, its amazing.

    Writing a blog to try and make your game look better than another game is sad. I had been keeping an eye on your game as I had planned to buy it as my one of my next adventures, but after this blog, I think i will pass.

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  31. I think the item hunt is required to some extent, because it extends the overall gameplay while rewarding the exploration instead of "filler" chapters or endless backtracking.

    My main gripe with Amnesia was that it was "scripted" much more than it was required. After the prison level the scare factor was decreased and the game became more predictable. Still I enjoyed it much, much more than DS1 and 2 together and it's among the best survival horror games I've played.

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  32. If you can't beat a game without switching to easy, and if you can't figure out the controls of the last part are the same as the controls in every similar part of the game leading up to it, it's possible that video games just aren't for you.

    Have you tried just writing books?

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  33. ""Writing a blog to try and make your game look better than another game is sad. I had been keeping an eye on your game as I had planned to buy it as my one of my next adventures, but after this blog, I think i will pass.""

    Thats obviously not the point of the blog, your only hurting yourself by not buying their game as it is an incredible experience. Playing the "You did this so im going to get you back by doing this" only makes you sound like a child.
    Frictional games openly admit their mistakes and the things they could have done better, in these blogs. So to say they write these to make their game look better is bullshit.
    Secondly- if you've read some of frictionals other blogs you would know they (Tomas?) often study the quality's which make games better into experiances. Like what makes a game immersive and how a good story is told, if its a horror game - how to make you afraid. Its only natural considering they like the horror genre to talk about another scary game and pick it apart. They are open with their players so they share these thoughts and study's publicly. -Taylor

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  34. @Anonymous that posted on 10 February 2011 08:21

    "The point he was making was that it was a stupid introduction that lost all the tension, you're thrown right into the action and you can get slaughtered right away... trail and error ,, its not survival horror at its best, far from it."
    You (and the author of this article) are wrong in that you think of DS2 as a survivel horror (which it isn't) and not as an action-horror (which it is). Not every game needs to be Penumbra or Amnesia.

    For the author: if you're playing an action game and you complain that the focus is on combat, than you're doing something wrong and/or nitpicking.

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  35. Ironic really.. I had just beat Amnesiac and found it to be one of the scariest and most memorable gaming experiences of my life. Sad that it was over, but wanting something similar I picked up Dead Space 1 on PC while it was on sale.

    It's a good game I suppose, but the sloppy console port-controls are inexcusable. That alone broke the game for me, especially after Amnesia did what it did with controls so well. I also didn't care for the constant over the shoulder camera. There are things I like; the limb severing mechanics, the discovery of audio logs that advanced the story, some of the scares are great but they never truly unnerved me the way that god forsaken water creature on ATDD did. And yes, the save game feature is a way outdated concept nowadays.

    Truth be told, I never ran out of ink ribbons on Resident Evil games..

    Looking forward to your next game. Great review and I hope someone responsible reads the critique.

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  36. @Shuyin

    The problem is, is that Dead Space 2 even fails on some easily solvable problems, like the save points. Maybe EA wouldn't be so terrible if they stopped firing every employee after 4 years and hiring novice Diploma Factory graduates without giving them experienced employees to help them.

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  37. Wasn't sure about getting this but after seeing how good it looks am going to. Even if the story isn't that good or involving, I can just about get by if there's a good enough atmosphere running through the game, and it looks like that's been done with this so will check it out.

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  38. I'm really enjoying this sequel; it has fantastic atmosphere and great cinematic scenes (which are a good thing). I has me gripped so far and I recommend it to lovers of the prequel and SH genre.

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  39. What really breaks immersion for me is when the game blocks me from progressing, due to a really challenging boss battle, or a complex puzzle that I can't solve. I enjoyed Penumbra thoroughly, though I had to look up a walkthrough two or three times in Black Plague because I just couldn't figure out the puzzles. I stopped playing Amnesia: TDD entirely with plenty left because I got stuck at a puzzle and got tired of having to look up the answer in walkthroughs. It isn't fun to do that. Puzzles are supposed to be fun, but the puzzles in Frictional Games' titles seem to be the opposite: they're usually work. I think they've been getting progressively worse as releases pass... That's my personal opinion. I'd like to eventually get back to playing Amnesia as I do rather like the game, but a large part will be ruined by my need to cheat to get through it.

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  40. I don't think it's a really fair assessment of Dead Space 2 as a whole. I agree with some points, but I played both games end to end (as I was given them both for the PC as a gift from my brother) and found them both thoroughly entertaining.

    The shift in focus from more horror-driven aspects to that of gunplay could be compared to that of Ridley Scott's Alien & James Cameron's Aliens.

    EA and Viceral Games had sacrificed horror for a faster and more consistent pace. The 'cheap death' mentioned at the beginning never happened to me (although I was probably more in tune with how the developers intended the game to be played after just having finished the first one, even with the sluggish console port controls) so the entire game sort of shot past at break-neck speed, which I found very entertaining, if for different reasons to that of the first.

    Also, I didn't find that the story not being foregrounded was a problem, as since your motivations were personal, it makes you seem less like some schmuck that people keep telling to fix everything, and therefore there was a more clearly established sense of progress every time you complete a set objective, instead of having the goal posts moved as with the first one, and you didn't have to know about the personal lives of the guy whose legs you just shot off.

    In this aspect, I find that it's more suited to the situation of the game as a whole, for example I've recently started a game of Mass Effect and while I find it very engaging so far, the sheer volume of information is staggering at times. It detracts from the urgency of certain situations (such as saving the universe from pointy limbed, upside-down faced mutants with a chip on their ... um... anatomy) that would normally require the protagonist's immediate attention.

    I mean, imagine how you'd explain to little Timmy O'Toole why his parents had to sprout scimitars out of their necks and have at eachother in a mutant deathmatch because Isaac, the saviour of the universe, was too busy reading a datapad about some dead guy's back story to get off his ass and destroy some big alien statue.

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  41. Hi

    Great review on dead space 2 enjoyed the read through.
    few things I would like to add is what is missing and like you said Repetition parts.
    I agree the hack stations, vents was too many. I found the game way too easy on zealot, hardcore its the same as zealot just have 3 saves which is stupid.

    what they should have done is made it hard to play on zealot and only HARDCORE MORE ALIENS more bots adjustable AI, less save stations.

    a ESC key so we can skip the scenes

    some game tools like a SDK pack for custom mods, maps the game might live longer.

    kevin

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  42. Dead Space 2 is my favorite game ever ind i agree there can be cheap deaths like at the beginning when you have like no health and you are being attacked alot

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  43. So I came here from the Bioshock story and let me say, I don't care if your game is a heart breaking work of staggering genius, I am not going to pay $60 for 5 hours. It simply is not worth it to me no matter what. Either drop the price or extend the game.

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