|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Visceral Games|
|Pub: Electronuic Arts|
|Release: March 1, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore; Intense Violence; Strong Language|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Like most people in the gaming press (and in the general public), I absolutely loved Dead Space 2. Though the plot was occasionally nonsensical (and featured way too much eye-stabbing...is that officially a trope now?), I couldn't help but fall head over heels in love with the game's mix of high-tension gunplay, satisfying puzzle areas, and amazing zero-gravity levels. The game definitely deserved the acclaim it received on release, and is worth your time if you haven't checked it out already. The DLC, though, is another matter.
Dead Space: Severed starts you off at the beginning of the events of Dead Space 2, except instead of waking up as a dazed and confused Isaac Clarke, you are running around as Gabe Weller, the protagonist of Dead Space Extraction. If you are one of the many who missed that title, don't worry. His character wasn't really developed in that title, and he's not really developed here either. He's a lot like the Isaac Clarke from the first game. He doesn't really talk much, and isn't as directly involved in his own storyline as you would expect him to be.
In some ways, this makes Gabe Weller a perfect fit for Dead Space 2: Severed. The game's plot is a clichéd quest of one man surviving against insurmountable odds to save his endangered (and pregnant) wife. Sound familiar? I thought so. Still, Dead Space: Severed makes clear very early on that it isn't about the plot, it's about the gunplay.
The game starts you off with a moderately suped-up pulse rifle, 50,000 credits to burn, and a whole lot of necromorphs to kill. Although none of your weapons or upgrades from Dead Space 2 carry over to the DLC, 50,000 credits can buy you pretty much everything you want from the store, and you can outfit yourself with quite the little arsenal before you shoot your first necromorph.
Don't expect the action to let up. Ever. One of the biggest strengths of the Dead Space series is the way it intelligently breaks up the shooting-focused gameplay with expensive puzzle areas. There are none of those in Severed. Outside of maybe finding a few switches to flip, you won't be doing anything in this game aside from pressing the fire button. There are some new necromorphs to check out, a somewhat memorable area where you have to shoot while hanging upside down, and the ultra-creepy "twitcher" necromorphs make a triumphant return in the game, but if you want anything outside of gameplay that revolves around shooting and reloading, you're out of luck. The game doesn't even have any zero-gravity areas, which I found surprising as those have become one of the hallmarks of the Dead Space series.
The lack of diversity in the gameplay is also a big problem because the game is just absurdly short. Though I don't expect a ten-hour experience from my DLC, Severed is only two chapters long, and takes just as many hours to complete. Though this wouldn't be bad for a four- or even five-dollar affair, but Severed is seven dollars, and feels overpriced for the amount of content you end up being able to play through. And you can forget about replay value, as there's nothing extra to unlock or upgrade in a game-plus mode. When you throw repetitive settings (nearly every room, hallway, and corner is lifted directly from Dead Space 2) and a lack of challenging gameplay into the mix, there's just nothing that makes this game seem remotely worthwhile.
Though I can admit I enjoyed blasting my way through waves of necromorphs in the world of Dead Space 2 with the main character from Dead Space: Extraction, the idea works better on paper. The game lacks the pacing and variety of Dead Space 2, and the game's story adds nothing of value to the Dead Space canon. Even if you care about the fate of Gabe and his wife, you're likely to be disappointed at the lack of events in the game. Though the ending tries to drop a "bombshell" of sorts, the lack of anything interesting happening during the previous two hours of gameplay makes the effort feel contrived and stale. If anything, the ending makes the gameplay feel even more worthless, because if you have grown to know and love the Dead Space universe as I have, you know that the characters deserve better than this. Maybe some DLC will be released in the future revealing the events of Severed were all a dream? Stranger stuff has happened in the past...
If you like shooting at endless hordes of necromorphs, you'll have a moderate amount of fun with Severed, but I'd recommend playing through Dead Space 2 on a harder difficulty first and waiting for a price drop for Severed before taking the plunge. Dead Space 2: Severed may be worth your time in some respects, but it certainly isn't worth your seven dollars in any case. This DLC is like canned espresso: small, disposable, and absolutely forgettable.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer