Dead Space 2 gets an afterlife tomorrow with the PSN release of Dead Space 2: Severed. This downloadable expansion picks up where PlayStation Move-enabled shooter Dead Space: Extraction left off, with (spoiler!) the escape of security officer Gabe Weller and surveyor Lexine Murdoch from the doomed colony of Aegis VII. Fate ultimately brings the pair to another very bad place: the Sprawl, otherwise known as the source of Dead Space 2’s Necromorph outbreak. While Issac Clarke is busy tracking down the Marker and battling his inner demons, Gabe is pursuing a more personal objective – locating Lexine, who’s been abandoned somewhere in the dark recesses of the station. Played through Gabe’s eyes, Severed brings a different perspective to the events of Dead Space 2 and fleshes out the backstory of both characters, complete with a few twists and turns for good measure.
I went hands-on with the first chapter of Severed in a guided tour narrated by Dead Space 2 Producer Scott Probst and Executive Producer Steve Papoutsis. Decked out in high-tech armor and packing a suped-up pulse rifle and ultra-precise Seeker Rifle, Gabe Weller is a bit more battle-ready than series everyman Issac Clarke. “We tailored the level layout and combat design around the fact that Gabe is a security officer,” Producer Scott Probst explains, “which makes Severed somewhat more action-focused.” Severed’s faster, more aggressive pacing is noted in its hair-raising battle sequences, and accelerated even further with the addition of a new Necromorph breed: the Twitcher.
Twitchers were introduced in the original Dead Space, and their blistering speed and spastic movements quickly made them among the game’s most-feared enemies. “Twitchers became fused with a Stasis module and it had an adverse effect,” Executive Producer Steve Papoutsis recalls. “Rather than slowing them down, it sped them up.” Though Twitchers were conspicuously absent in Dead Space 2, Severed drags these terrors back into the spotlight. The Twitchers in Severed live up to their name, bobbing and weaving around shots with unnerving ease. Combined with the brisker combat pacing, the Twitchers help give Severed a steeper difficulty that will keep Dead Space 2 veterans on their toes. “You’re getting a challenge, but you’re also getting a different experience,” Probst adds. “We wanted to offer something new and cool from a gameplay perspective.”
While the stronger action hook is a welcome change of pace, I suspect many players will ultimately play Severed to learn what happened to Gabe and Lexine after the events of Dead Space: Extraction. “It’s definitely worth playing Extraction before playing Severed,” Papoutsis notes. “But it’s not required. This story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.” Of course, PS3 owners have no excuses – Extraction is included with the limited edition of Dead Space 2. Whether Dead Space 2 will see further downloadable episodes that will expand the Dead Space fiction in other ways remains an open question. “We’ll see what people want,” Papoutsis says. “It depends on people’s appetite.”
Dead Space 2: Severed hits the PlayStation Store tomorrow for $6.99 with two new single-player chapters and new Trophies.
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