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EA, Visceral Games Confirm  Dead Space 2
EA, Visceral Games Confirm Dead Space 2
December 7, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

December 7, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Electronic Arts' Visceral Games has officially announced Dead Space 2, a sequel to the 2008 action-horror title set in space.

It will again star hero Isaac Clarke up against the Necromorphs in space, and promises new tools in the game's signature dismemberment gameplay. It's planned for release on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, although EA didn't specify a release window for the title.

"Like so many gamers worldwide, we love the Dead Space franchise and are very excited to announce a new game in the series, says EA senior VP and group general manager Nick Earl.

It's been widely-known EA aimed to make a franchise out of the original game, grooming Dead Space as one of its core intellectual properties. A Wii-only prequel, Dead Space Extraction, launched late in September of this year.

Dead Space 2 executive producer Steve Papoutsis adds: "In Dead Space 2, not everything is exactly as it seems. Expect plot twists that will surprise you and a huge cast of twisted, disgusting monsters that are sure to scare the daylights out of you."

Formerly EA Redwood Shores, developer Visceral Games rebranded earlier this year in a move intended to its specific focus. Its other known project, Dante's Inferno, also focuses on over-the-top action and horror elements.

One major change has taken place since Dead Space, however -- the former leads of Visceral Games, GM Glen Schofield and COO Michael Condrey, have left the company to head rival publisher Activision's Sledgehammer Games.

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Chris Melby
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Awesome! I'm really glad to hear of a PC release. I was getting a bit worried, as I'd never buy a PS3 or 360 to play this game, not with their sluggish inputs.

Hopefully DS2 will have real mouse support, that's my biggest gripe about the first one. I also didn't like how the game slowed down the mouse tracking in aim-mode to try and increase the difficulty. Fortunately there were a couple of work arounds that allowed me to really enjoy Dead Space PC, but on the down side that made the game easier, so I'd love to see a much harder game with this sequel.

I'm hoping for even less amo -- as I had too much in parts -- and more penalties for dying -- think System Shock. I hope that impossible-difficulty will actually live up to its name. Also, I hope that they actually balance the game for a faster input like the mouse.

Will Isaac actually be an engineer this time around, or once again a fighter-mage? :)

Anyways, DS PC was one of my favorite games last year. I even bought DS:E on the Wii because of it, so this will be another day one purchase for me.

Bart Stewart
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I'm normally a pretty calm person. So I think it says something that Dead Space is the only game I've ever played (and my gaming goes back to the coin-op Computer Space) where I grabbed the disc out of my PC's drive and flung it across the room in absolute frustration.

With sincere respect to the effort put in by the programmers and artists, Dead Space was IMO a poor port of a mindless console game design. The controls were intolerably clunky (and seemed to have been designed that way); the levels were linear; the "scares" were of the predictable Doom 3 "lock the door and spawn monsters" variety; the lack of a quicksave/quickload (and the necessary rebalancing) imposed tedious backtracking; the (frequent) death animation went on and on... and was unskippable; and so on.

But as irritating as all those things were, what I found most galling was that DS played like someone's idea of a System Shock with all the cool sucked out of it. It was as though someone thought it would be a good idea to remake System Shock 2, complete with a broken starship, backstory logs, vending machines, a biological infestation to fight, and even ghosts, but then take out everything that gave SS2 its wonderful depth: rich but balanced gameplay choices; a well-defined, active, and truly creepy villain, clever plot twists, imaginative level designs, enjoyable character ability improvements, sensible controls, and a nod of respect (near the game's ending) to the utterly brilliant original System Shock.

Weapon upgrades were marginally more interesting in Dead Space than in either System Shock. Other than that, if Dead Space was intended to be EA's idea of a "spiritual successor" to System Shock (to which EA renewed its trademark in late 2005), it failed.

Summary: Poor controls (on the PC) and excessively simple-minded gameplay compared to the System Shock games mean that I'm utterly uninterested in a Dead Space 2, much less in seeing EA trying to declare it a franchise property. I don't enjoy being negative about a product that people have worked hard to make, and which some gamers enjoy, but I hope these comments will be taken for the honest reaction to the posted news story that they're intended to be.

On a more positive note, let me know when someone actually makes a System Shock 3 with all the depth and intelligence and fun of the previous two games of that name. I'll happily say nice things about it. :)

Luis Guimaraes
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Oh, that really says something!

I'm still playing the game just for the sake of knowing it. Didn't love it, but didn't care too much about it's flaws. Nowadays I'm granted that real good games are the exception, not the rule. By the way, Dead Space is a good game, but the lack of options and depth of systems, for a game with that premise, is really a bad thing.

In the other hand, it was what publishers consider "risky". I hope the second one brings all it has potential to be, and don't become a franchise gambling.

Chris Melby
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Not to contradict my original praise for this game, which I still stand by as I really did enjoy it, but I do agree with much of what you say. System Shock to this day is still one of my favorite games. For reference, I had such high standards for SS2, that when I finally got around to playing it, was let down as it was no where as balanced as the first and there were dumb things in place like monster re-spawn and super fragile weapons of the future -- but I still hold it above the majority of games.

If I hadn't been able to get my controls under control -- sorry about the pun, I would've not even bothered with DS. But disabling the game's VSYNC option and turning it on in my nVidia control panel fixed the horrid mouse latency. (The developers set the game's option to 30hz I've found, which is just DUMB, this exaggerated the mouse lag. Why on earth did they not provide an option to set it to the screen's native Hz?) I also bought a Logitech G9, which completely negates the developer's asinine attempt to slow down the mouse in aim-mode -- I guess this is an attempt to make this game harder on a PC.

I have to wonder, was the entire PC team made up of only console guys with no real experience using a mouse?

Another reason I even bothered with DS, is because I really enjoyed RE4 on the Wii. It took me a few times to get into that game, but once I did, I was hooked. What I saw in DS, was RE4 in space with reminders of System Shock.

I did not have high expectations for DS, nothing on the level of System Shock. I expected it to be RE4 in space and that's what it was when it comes down to it. I was never scared in the game, nothing even remotely, but with my mouse in control and a repetitive game style I enjoyed on my Wii, I really enjoyed the game enough to play it through two times. It was a really easy game on Hard and Impossible, so I rarely died, I also did not use Stasis, as it only made the game that much easier. I used it on the mechanical objects and the regen-necro of course, but nothing else.

Anyways, If this game had been called System Shock 3, it would have got the same respect I gave BioShock, as I would have really expected much much more of it, so I would have hated it to tell you the truth, and would have probably also thrown my disc out after fighting with the poor mouse implementation. BioShock really ticked me off and I wish it had been called somethign else, like BioSomethingElse...

Bart Stewart
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Luis and Chris, you both make valid points.

If the sequel to Dead Space has more depth, I'd consider that a Good Thing. I do wonder, though, whether the apparent success of the original will mean that the sequel will simply be the same stuff, only more of it. In other words, I can imagine the design team for the sequel saying, "Well, the original game was linear and used cheap scares and was hard to control on the PC, but people bought a bunch of copies, so they must like that stuff -- let's give it to them again." So I'm really not expecting that DS2 will be so much more interesting than the original that I could be persuaded to risk any more of my money on it.

As for comparisons to System Shock being unfair or inappropriate... that may be so. I've never seen any Official Person acknowledge that Dead Space was intended as a consolized re-imagining of System Shock 2, for example -- that's simply a conclusion I (and others) have drawn based on EA's renewal of the "System Shock" trademark and the perceived similarities in game elements between SS2 and DS. Not everyone agrees with that analysis.

For that matter, Chris, you're completely right that SS2 was imperfect. (As are pretty much all games.) The degradable nature of weapons didn't bother me; I thought it added an interesting sphere of choices to gameplay. ("Should I improve my Repair skills to focus on doing damage with weapons? Or should I grab another cool Psi power even if that means I'll need to specialize in doing damage through Psi abilities?") But I remember that a lot of people felt differently. To them, the need to constantly maintain weapons was irritating because it interrupted what they wanted to be doing (fighting enemies) without adding any value. It was literally "maintaining," rather than improving, and as such just felt like treading water: not fun.

The respawning thing, though, was just ridiculous. It didn't seem to fit with the thoughtful design of the rest of the game.

BioShock bothered me a lot less than Dead Space. While I also felt that BioShock was dumbed-down, it at least was designed in the Looking Glass mold of giving players meaningfully different choices for how to address challenges: direct force, stealth, or manipulation of enemies. (The PC interface was also far superior to that of Dead Space, so there wasn't that unnecessary frustration.) While also imperfect, BioShock was enough fun that I've played it twice, and I probably will play it again in the future.

Side notes: There's a great post-mortem of System Shock 2 (
games_.php) by Jonathan Chey here at Gamasutra. And just today -- coincidence? -- Gamasutra published an article (
_years_of_.php) talking with Raphael Colantonio of Arkane (Arx Fatalis, Dark Messiah of Might & Magic), whose games have been conscious homages to the big, deep, smart games made by and inspired by the former Looking Glass Studios (Ultima Underword, System Shock, Thief, Deus Ex). And as background for those, Tom Leonard's post-mortem of Thief: The Dark Project (
ark_project.php) is also worth reading.

I shudder to think what Eidos Montreal is going to make of Deus Ex 3 and Thief 4. I expect both of those games will be closer to the Looking Glass model than Dead Space, so there's a chance I might risk my money on them. On the other hand, I don't expect either DE3 or T4 to be anywhere near as good as Deus Ex or T2; I assume both of the Eidos games will be oversimplified, linear console games, eliminating a crucial factor in what made the Looking Glass games fun. And the recent news that Square Enix will be providing the in-game cinematics for Deus Ex 3... I can't even guess that level of strangeness that will produce.

At any rate, I'm still more likely to try Deus Ex 3 or Thief 4 than Dead Space 2.

But that's probably just me.