The original Dead Space did strange things to me. It was creepy, addicting and fun. Also unsettling. Oh, and unnerving. And creepy again. In fact, just grab a thesaurus and look up scary; that’ll give you a good general idea of how I felt playing. Remember when Wendy was running through the hotel to get away from Jack towards the end of “The Shining”? Around every turn she saw something stranger? Well, Isaac Clarke is Wendy, the USG Ishimura is the hotel, Jack are the necromorphs and the strange shit around every corner is strange shit around every corner. It’s everything you could hope for in a survival horror game. Needless to say, I was very pumped to hear EA and Visceral Games were letting me again control Isaac for round two. No longer on an infested, derelict ship floating through space, you wake up in a hospital on the huge Titan city of Sprawl. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, you’re in a straitjacket, infected by the same disease that killed everyone in the original, and (surprise!) the necromorphs are consuming Sprawl. This is the bad news. You soon find out that a huge monolith à la “2001: A Space Odyssey” called the Marker is somehow drawing all necromorphs to it. It quickly becomes clear that you’re going to be the only one able to stop it. By the time you make your way through the crumbling metropolis, you’ll be more than willing to go Major T. J. “King” Kong all over it. After all, you’ll be fighting necromorphs, double-crossing religious types, misinformed government agents, fellow infected hospital patients and your own brain. The disease has caught up with Isaac, making vivid flashbacks, seeing ghosts, and having full conversations with your dead girlfriend commonplace. It looks like the future isn’t going quite as well as the Jetsons would have you believe. Dead Space 2 once again relies on a third-person over-the-shoulder point of view without a head’s-up display. Visceral makes it work by displaying your health on the spine of your space suit, your stasis next to it and your ammo on the weapon itself. Stasis is a welcome return from the original, basically putting everything you hit with it into slow motion. This is very helpful when dismembering necromorphs, which again is a key element in this series. A couple plasma rounds to the chest aren’t going to do it — no, dear reader, you’ll need a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence. You have to make sure that the necromorphs head, arms and legs are nowhere near each other when you’re through with it. Upgrading your weapons and suit are vital to your survival. You can upgrade your suit to take less damage, allow you breathe in space for a longer period, use kinesis more aptly and give you more stasis shots. Upgrading your weapons to do more damage is very appealing as well, because ammo can be very scarce. The setting and pacing of this game are great improvements over the original. While being confined to a deserted ship in the original helped the sense of helplessness and claustrophobia, the new setting of a collapsing city with escaping families adds a new level of dread. With much more terrain to cover, you also never feel like you’re treading the same path over and over again. Along with a fresh setting, Visceral set out to pace the game in a far more entertaining way. They succeeded. No longer is Dead Space one long endless fight: It combines those overwhelming battles with puzzles, zero-G segments and periods of silence and calm, effectively making the battles that much more intense. The sound design is as good as it gets, amping up the tension perfectly with long periods of silence followed by swells that will have you looking over your shoulder at every turn. Dead Space 2 introduces us to a new multiplayer experience that doesn’t feel all that new. It pits a team of humans against a team of necromorphs like Left 4 Dead. It gives a few objective based tasks to the human side, while it’s up to the necromorphs to stop them like Singularity. In fact, it seems that DS2 borrowed bits and pieces from a ton of different multiplayer experiences but never really hit the mark. It seems like multiplayer was tacked on for the sake of having multiplayer. It’s not awful, but it’s not something you’ll write home about either. All in all, this game is a winner and very worth playing. It’s better than the original, which is saying a lot. Better pacing, better setting, better puzzles and the same feeling of being uncomfortable throughout. The ending leaves more questions just as the first did. I can’t wait to see what awaits Isaac next.