Review – Dead Space 2: Severed

Dead Space 2: Severed
This week saw the release of Severed, the first true DLC (save weapon and items packs) for the Dead Space series. Thus, I will again jump at the opportunity to discuss the merits of annihilating zombies in space, a subject very near and dear to my heart.

Severed features Gabe Weller, one of the protagonists from Dead Space: Extraction. The two-chapter campaign sees Weller battle his way from the government sector of the Sprawl to the psych ward in the civilian sector, in an effort to find his wife and get her off the station. This has the player literally playing the campaign backwards, revisiting many of the areas originally seen while traversing the station in the opposite direction, as Isaac.

Dead Space 2: Severed
The narrative—which is decidedly thinner than that of the main game—assumes the player has played Extraction and is familiar with these characters and their relevance. The relatively simplistic nature of the story means that no one will be hopelessly lost, but those who did not play through Extraction may feel that these characters and events are not sufficiently developed.

Severed assumes a greater focus on action, and is something of a departure from Dead Space 2’s meticulous pacing. Where the main game was a rollercoaster with each peak and valley carefully, deliberately mapped, Severed is more like riding a bullet to it’s inevitable, violent conclusion. Playing more like a shooter than the core campaign, the DLC is absent of the quiet, disturbing moments that often made the core campaign memorable, replacing them with room after room of brutal combat scenarios.

In that way, Severed almost serves as a story-infused challenge mode. It offers the player extremely limited resources and forces careful decision making with regards to choosing which weapons to purchase and which upgrade paths to follow. As is usually the goal with challenge modes, that brevity may afford players a simple in-and-out play session that’s not available in a retail campaign demanding far more investment.

Dead Space 2: Severed
However, what’s honestly lacking in this product are experiences that are distinct from the core game. The areas explored, for example, are culled from the core campaign, and weapons are identical, save for a single variant of one of the campaign weapons, which features boosted stats. Weller dons a new (and fantastic looking) security suit, but like the weapon variant, it doesn’t offer anything that you can’t already find in the retail product. While the package does feature an ostensibly new enemy, that addition simply offers a Necromorph previously seen in the original Dead Space.

Equally, there are a couple of harrowing moments, but it doesn’t help that one of them is lifted directly from the retail product, seeing the protagonist strung upside down in the face of oncoming Necropmorphs.

It’s only in the final moments that Severed lives up the memorability of the core product, but fortunately, it does so with a twist that’s as shocking as anything in the campaign. The ending serves to provide a distinct survival scenario, a unique challenge, and a compelling moment that manages to elevate the entire product, while some of the story elements revealed along the way also provide ample material for future entries to explore.

The value of Severed will be greatest to series adherents who are invested in the lore of the universe, and Extraction players will also find this a solid, if brief addendum to that series entry. Casual players of Dead Space, however, may not find much here to justify the purchase, as the package offers more experiences rather than new experiences.


Developer
Visceral Games

Publisher
Electronic Arts

System
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (Xbox 360 reviewed)

Modes
Singleplayer

Release Date
March 1, 2011

Price
$6.99, 560 Microsoft Points

*A copy of this title was purchased by Gamesugar for review

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  • EdEN

    Thanks for the review. It’s always nice when developers actually give us DLC for single player experiences… unlike 90% of the cases when DLC is jus a series of MP maps. So, how long did it take you to finish this expansion?

  • http://www.gamesugar.net Brad Johnson

    It ran about ninety minutes.

    • EdEN

      Mmm, ok so $7 for an hour and a half? I’ll have to wait until the DLC is at a discount since that’s a bit expensive. Was expecting 2-3 hours at least. Thanks for the info!