My 2011 Game of the Year: Dead Space 2

With all of the high profile titles that released throughout this year, and 2011 coming to a close, it’s easy to forget that Dead Space 2 came out in January. The astounding volume of games has made it feel like ages since players stepped into the boots of Isaac Clarke, so conversations often turn to the vast nature of Skyrim, or the sheer insanity presented in Saints Row: The Third. While most of them are fantastic creations that deserve acclaim and attention, I feel it’s important to take a trip back to the beginning of the year and look at what made Dead Space 2 my favorite game of the year.

Truth be told, it’s almost impossible to nail down what exactly made my time with Dead Space 2 so enjoyable. While each underlying element is polished to a beautiful sheen, the brilliance of the game can only be boiled down to the moment-to-moment experiences that leave you awestruck. It’s fighting a mammoth creature while the both of you are tumbling through the cold death of space. It’s exploring an abandoned nursery where signs of tragedy and death are all around you. It’s crawling through ventilation shafts and creeping through cryostasis chambers, knowing that at any moment, some disgusting abomination will try to make dinner out of you.

The music, visuals, combat and story are all excellent by themselves, but the way they are melded together needs to be seen to be believed. It is not unlike an expert composition by a famed musician. It plays against your expectations and emotions in the best way possible. While the thrills experienced could be considered similar to a rollercoaster ride, calling Dead Space 2 a simple ride would be an insult; rides don’t have this much meat on the bones.

In a year when gamers have turned the word “linear” into a punching bag, Dead Space 2 also disproves the notion that linearity is a bad thing. The “A-to-B” structure of the game is almost invisible, because of the variety and intensity of the events that lead you from the beginning to the end. It manages to send you flying through intense scenes that open-world games would never be able to accomplish, without making you feel like you’re watching some interactive movie. It makes the argument that a controlled sequence isn’t a bad thing; it’s the quality of the controlled sequence that makes or breaks the game.

Words alone cannot possibly do justice to Dead Space 2. I urge each and every one of you to grab a copy and start playing if any of these points sound like something you’d enjoy. It truly is an unforgettable experience; Even though it’s almost been a year since I played it, it remains fresh in my mind.

Republished from Press X or Die. Originally published on December 12, 2011.