Author: Michael Knight
Publishers: Prima Games
Editions Available: Paperback and Collector’s Edition
Acquired by Publisher
Strategy Guide Review Policy:
My goal for these strategy guide reviews is not to discuss whether one needs the guide to complete the game. Every gamer has different strengths and skills, and one may need every bit of a guide, another may need to look up information for quick assistance once, and another may laugh at the idea of ever using a guide, even the online freebies. My goal is to determine whether the guide is 1) helpful in the first place, 2) does it encompass gamers who need hand-holding as well as those who need a quick reference and 3) how much information does it really have.
Dead Space 2 isn’t exactly a labyrinth, nor is it a massive open world; players don’t spend much time trying to figure out where to go. The primary conceit of Dead Space is about survival, and a good guide will address that at every turn. All the other stuff is just gravy on top.
So what about Prima’s Dead Space 2 guide? Will it help you survive your journey through the Sprawl with your limbs and your sanity intact?
Getting right to the meat of the guide (as any good necromorph would do), all the basic walkthrough information is there. Most importantly, suggestions for preparing and dealing with the necromorph onslaught takes up the majority of each section. Potential combat strategies and strong weapon choices will make the guide useful for anyone who wants to see the story through but finds the combat a bit overwhelming on its own.
Maps for each area outline locations for the important items like schematics and power nodes, which will make finding all the possible upgrades very easy for completionists. It’s important to note that I played through Dead Space 2 in its entirety twice before cracking open the guide. While most of the node locations appear to be accurate, some user reviews online note that the guide is missing a few power nodes. This sort of thing is crucial for surviving the harder difficulties, and it should not have been overlooked.
The guide has a lot of flavor text, which makes me think that maybe there wasn’t enough content to fill the guide to the specified size. The log transcripts are unnecessary as they are easily accessible from the in-game menus, and the “Isaac’s Log” sidebars feel a bit silly. They’re supposed to be from Isaac’s point of view, but they refer to the game buttons regularly, and aren’t written in a voice that even resembles Isaac’s. They would’ve been better integrated into the text or maybe as “CEC Entries” if the author wanted to give the text some Dead Space flavor.
While the guide is useful overall, there were a couple major oversights that really affected the guide’s usefulness for me. While it covers the first playthrough quite thoroughly, much of the fun of Dead Space comes in those second and third playthroughs. New Game+ mode has four additional suits for the player to find, which were omitted. Also omitted was any reference to the game’s Hardcore difficulty, which gives the player three saves and no checkpoints. Even just a few pages of pointers would’ve been nice for players looking to move the difficulty up a notch.
The limited edition of the guide is bound in hardcover, with the print number located right on the first page. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, sticking smartly to the series’ visual trademark, Isaac’s glowing visor.
The visual style of the book fits that of the games well, with a mix between splatter textures and text boxes styled after the RIG display from the game. One technical glitch with the book that may be isolated to just my copy – but maybe not – is that some of the pages were printed out of alignment. The text is blurry enough to make reading it difficult. The striped background only makes it worse and makes you start to wonder if the rest of the text is blurry as well. It isn’t a majority of the book – in reality it’s only something like 10 pages, but it really is irritating.
As one might expect from a limited edition book, almost the entire second half the book is extras. Most important is the full walkthrough for Dead Space: Extraction. Included in both the limited and regular editions of the book, this will walk players through the PS3 version of the first-person rail shooter (and should work fine for the Wii version as well). Two guides for the price of one is a nice price. There’s also a chapter detailing the creation of the live version of the RIG that people have seen at public Dead Space events, a huge section of gorgeous (or is it gore-geous) Dead Space concept art, an interview with the art director Ian Milham, and a section showing off the art of Christopher Shy, who has done some of the Dead Space graphic novels. All of these focus on the visual nature of the guide and supplement it well enough to make it worth picking up for fans of the series. Lastly, there’s a note from the Church of Unitology, the cult featured so prominently in the game. Better yet, it’s written in the Unitologist alphabet (a translation for which is included in the book). It’s a fun, unique addition.
The Dead Space 2 guide has more than enough information for anyone to make it through Isaac’s harrowing journey, but the real good stuff will appeal especially to the fans of the Dead Space franchise. There’s a ton of content to enjoy even after finishing the game, even with the printing glitch and disappointing omissions.