Stolen Pixels #249: Division of Laborer

By Shamus Posted Friday Apr 8, 2011

Filed under: Column 24 comments

Hey, check out my latest comic about Dead Space 2!

I actually enjoyed the game, despite my groaning about its monster closets. It’s a lot like Resident Evil, except with less offensively idiotic camp. It has a shopping and crafting system that fits withing the game (they’re machines, not people) and make as much sense as this sort of feature can make. The weapons were all wildly different and interesting. The story was clunky, but serviceable. The puzzles worked. Some of the levels were interesting.

The game lets you do the Resident Evil thing where you can start a new game but keep the items from your previous play-through. It’s an interesting mechanic. It lets you either stay on the same difficulty but charge through the game using the more powerful, fun weapons that you probably had to ration on your previous game, or you can take your toys and go for the next difficulty level.

However, I stand by my notion that the game would have been better with less monsters. (Or more breaks between them.) Even if they weren’t intending to make survival horror, some more variance in the pacing would have been nice.


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24 thoughts on “Stolen Pixels #249: Division of Laborer

  1. Varewulf says:

    The Escapist Magazine isn’t working yet. :( I want to read the comic. Nao!

    I guess that’s not going to help.

  2. Amarsir says:

    I feel like his response in the first panel telegraphed the joke a bit. Not a major complaint, just a thought.

  3. Cthulhu says:

    I still can’t get the escapist to load… wonder what’s wrong with it.

    1. Bobby Archer says:

      It’s loading fine for me; I haven’t had any problems with it today.

    2. rayen says:

      i have got the same problem.

  4. DaveMc says:

    Has The Escapist suddenly reduced the size they’re using to display Stolen Pixels? Or is the comic suddenly further away, or something? Or maybe it’s just a browser thing on my end …

  5. psivamp says:

    Please don’t talk up this game, Shamus. I liked the first one, but the ad campaign killed my interest in this and I want to pretend that I’m not getting it for reasons of moral indignation/disgust/something…

    1. Shamus says:

      You know, when I think about the ad campaign, I feel shame for the parts I enjoyed.

      Ugh. I really wish they hadn’t done that.

    2. ccesarano says:

      I got the game despite the ad campaign, and honestly, while the second game is fun, a lot of the new additions miss the point of what made the first game good. So I wouldn’t worry about it. You’d be fine replaying the first game.

      If they make a Dead Space 3 (ha ha, if) I’d like to see the return of boss monsters. Then again, I’m sure the loudest demographic will demand all the wrong things and therefore third shall be worst.

      1. Tizzy says:

        Hmpf… Boss monsters… Not necessarily my favorite.

        Didn’t the sequel have a couple, though? How many did the first one have?

        1. ccesarano says:

          The first one had some cool ones, though I think some people found two of them annoying. Twice you had to sit at a turret and shoot at a monster that wanted to kill your face off, but I found it pretty fun.

          The best boss fight in the game, and one of the best since the original Half-Life (where a boss fight was pretty much a level) was this guy. Pain in the ass the first time, and still a bit of a challenge once you got the pattern down.

          I wish more fights were designed around such interesting twists, and considering the changes in Dead Space 2’s zero gravity I was expecting it. But instead, the closest you get to a boss fight is having to fight two brutes at once.

          1. Tizzy says:

            But how about the guy after you reach the top of the church?

            1. ccesarano says:

              Hrm. He’s a bit tricky. You never truly get a proper fight with him, just a lot of moments where you’re grabbed and have to do the tentacle thing again (which is supremely disorienting and awesome). This was, in fact, the best sort of part about the final boss of Dead Space 1.

              I’m not sure whether it should count as a boss fight itself, though.


  6. Alan De Smet says:

    How does Dead Space 2 compare to the original? I’m currently playing the original. I’m finding the original flawed, but entertaining to justify buying it at a deep discount (which I did). I’m wondering if the sequel would also entertain (once it too gets cheap).

    On the vague subject of survival horror, allow me to pitch my favorite: Alan Wake. It gets the pacing much better, including surprisingly long sequences that aren’t dangerous at all and provide a nice contrast when things go badly. The DLC, on the other hand, is mediocre and not worth it. (They have the problem that the original game ended in a very final way. Continuing the story in the DLC required coming up with some extremely contrived justification. Without the tightly integrated plot and logic, it feels like another random survival horror game.)

    1. ksleet says:

      I was very pleased with the sequel. The biggest change you’ll notice is that Isaac is no longer a silent protagonist, and that worked out really well… he’s a likable hero with real agency in the story and gets a few good lines in here and there. The gameplay is pretty similar to the first, which was fine by me.

    2. ccesarano says:

      Unless you’re super analytical to the small details of game design, it’ll probably be the same or better. I mean, the easiest way to review Dead Space 2 is to just copy and paste a review of Dead Space 1.

      Personally, however, I found some small details that basically missed the idea of why some aspects of the first game worked. All the original enemies made aiming for their limbs difficult in some way, and often it even came with a risk. The fat guys swung their arms in front of their bellies, making it easy to bust them open (especially when things were hectic). The lanky monsters just became a bunch of facehuggers crawling everywhere. So on and so forth.

      The new enemies in Dead Space 2 are either repeats (kamikaze baby is really no different than the walking-red-barrel already) and are even easier to amputate.

      But again, these are small details that will go over most people’s heads, so ultimately if you liked the first game, you’ll like the second.

    3. SatansBestBuddy says:

      Be warned, pacing goes out the window and bosses are gone, as are the coherent objectives, encouragement to explore for resources and backtrack to previous areas, space guns blasting asteroids, and even the walks in space are fewer and changed for the worse. (giving you a lot more control but not really uping the challenge level to compensate for that extra control, aside from one annoying section that still would have been more fun if you’d didn’t have complete control over 3D space)

      Basically, the first game felt like Resident Evil 4 in Space, while the second feels like Iron Man in a Vaguely Survival Horror Type Game in Space.

  7. zob says:

    “Offensively idiotic camp” was the selling point of Resident Evil. Playing inside a zombie b-film. They shouldn’t have converted it into a AAA title.

  8. Phoenix says:

    The big difference is that Dead Space 1 had issues with the interface in the PC version, which may be a problem (essentially goes very slow when you’re aiming, I think it’s a sort of graphical glitch, don’t know if they patched it). And a bit less weapons and a lot (if I remember correctly) more bosses. And it’s a bit longer I guess.

  9. Vegedus says:

    New game +. I am saddened whenever an RPG doesn’t include this feature.

  10. Tizzy says:

    One of the really cool things about the Dead Space series is the fact that it stars an Engineer rather than yet another space marine. If they could have kept the weapons to mostly tools (and made the tools the most useful weapons), they would have really made it.

  11. Seth Ghatch says:

    Dammit you guys removed my comment >.< Fine. Be that way T.T

    1. Phoenix says:

      Even your avatar is somewhat censored. :D

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