Dead Space 2 is like the original on steroids. It's a powerhouse, masterfully mixing survival horror and third-person shooting.
Players again take on the role of engineer Isaac Clarke in the fight against the deadly necromorphs. Anyone who enjoyed the first game will be right at home with the general story, and the look and feel of this excellent sequel.
While it's not necessary to have played the series' first installment, it definitely helps set up the atmosphere.
For players who missed Dead Space, there is a helpful video that recaps all the vital information, though it doesn't portray the horrific atmosphere with much detail.
While the first game started off slowly and built momentum to a crescendo ending, Dead Space 2 starts with a bang and varies in its action intensity until the ending.
Dead Space 2 definitely seems as if it received an action upgrade. Clarke moves faster, aims better, has refined and easier controls, and can navigate the environment with comparative ease. Using telekinesis is actually useful, and navigating massive environments no longer seems like such a puzzle. Rather, it's a rewarding exercise in zero-gravity controls.
The environments have changed the most. In Dead Space 2, Clarke is no longer on a spooky, derelict spaceship. He is in a much more residential area. He will explore everything from bright and cheery classrooms to government offices.
Even though developer Visceral Games has done a wonderful job enhancing the original in many areas, the sequel is not perfect. For instance, the multiplayer seems tacked on, and though the game plays like the original on steroids, that's good and bad. The story isn't nearly as engaging, and the enemies still stick to the tried and true hide-in-a-vent-and-pop-out formula.
The bottom line is this: If you enjoy survival horror shooters even a little, you owe it to yourself to play this game. If you're not sure whether you like this genre, you still should pick this up and give it a try. Also, don't shy away if you missed the first one; it's not a prerequisite.