Platforms: PSN | Xbox Live (version tested)
Developer: Visceral Games
We certainly aren't short of a few Dead Space 2 DLC packs. It's an EA title after all, and they've merrily provided us with any number of fairly useless throwaway offerings. Severed, however, is the first genuine expansion pack that lengthens the gameplay beyond a few extra guns and suits. The £5.49/ 560 Microsoft points price bracket is fairly attractive, but will Severed provide enough content to be worth the money?
Severed tells the short story of Gabe Weller, the hero of the (cruelly underrated) Dead Space: Extraction rail shooter. After settling down on Titan with pregnant wife Lexine, he has to race across The Sprawl in an effort to get his beloved to safety and out from the clutches of the Necromorph infestation. This premise unfortunately makes for a fairly forgettable storyline, but provides the perfect excuse for players to explore a couple of new levels, retread some familiar environments and dismember a ferocious new type of undead horror.
Gabe isn't a hapless engineer who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's an experienced and fearless ex-soldier; so bearing this in mind, the experience is very different from what fans may be used to from the series. Severed doesn't try to scare you or tell much of a story. Rather, it's an unashamed action experience featuring plenty of hectic shooting galleries and desperate all-out brawls.
This emphasis on action over true horror is evident from the very start. Weller doesn't mess around with makeshift tools, and is kitted out with a customised Pulse Rifle and military-grade Seeker Rifle from the very start. 50,000 credits worth of life savings provide players with a significant war chest for new weapons and gear, and even his armour packs a healthy damage increase rather than a defensive bonus. You'll need each and every one of these offensive capabilities though, because the Necromorphs attack in much greater numbers this time around. In fact, there are even some massive set piece arenas (liberally festooned with explosives and kinesis objects ripe for the hurling) that will tax even veteran Dead Space players to the edge of their abilities. Basically, it's much harder.
You'll see a couple of new environments along with some areas that have been overtly ripped from the original, but the main new draw is the return of the Twitcher. These nasty opponents use their embedded stasis units to amplify their speed, resulting in blindingly fast attacks and a welcome challenge. Their movement and overtly humanoid appearance is also deeply unsettling to say the least.
Naturally Severed is graphically identical to its big brother, but a few nice design touches become apparent every now and again. The moody smoke effects make the mining facility visually distinct from the clean, clinical environments, and the art direction is as strong as you'd expect from the series. As always, though, it's the sound design that really shines - with some stellar voice acting and ambient atmospheric effects. Gabe's South African drawl is also a welcome and refreshing change from the same old gravelly-voiced yanks that crop up game after game.
But with every DLC pack, there's really only one question worth asking.
Is there enough content to warrant the price tag?
In this case, the answer is... not quite. Dead Space 2: Severed is a fun and highly replayable little outing, but with only two chapters and approximately two hours' play time, only the most die-hard fans will get the most for their money. It's worth noting that the modified Seeker rifle and armour can be purchased in the main Dead Space 2 campaign, but it's otherwise bereft of value beyond is short explosive set pieces.
In fact, most Dead Space fans are ultimately better off investing in the iPhone game instead. It fills in plenty of canonical details while providing some of the best gameplay we've ever seen in an app. Why not check out my full review over at Mobot?
- Refreshing action-centric gameplay
- Hectic, brutal set pieces
- We prefer Gabe to Isaac
- Doesn't quite justify its price tag or file size
- Unsatisfying storyline
- Doesn't add anything to the experience beyond the Twitchers
The Short Version: If you're desperately craving more Dead Space 2, Severed is a great place to get your kicks and a stiffer challenge to test your skills. It's polished, brutal and great fun in parts, but beware that value is at a premium.