When EA and Visceral Games first announced the Dead Space 2: Severed DLC add-on, there was no shortage of the usual complaints from blood-thirsty gamers who felt the added mission should have been included on the retail disc.
However, as more and more details (meaning screens and a trailer) were released, it became increasingly clear that Severed wasn't just a flimsy cash-in - it was actually positioned to help bridge the Dead Space universe mythos by offering a complete side-plot featuring familiar characters (and a fan-favorite necromorph type that was absent from the main game). However, does the final Dead Space 2: Severed gameplay experience live up to its ambitious goals (in gameplay and story-telling)?
In general, Dead Space 2: Severed is a competent addition to the main game, offering players another chance to dismember necromorphs on the Sprawl in a bite-sized adventure - instead of committing to the larger New Game+ route.
As mentioned in our preview coverage, players take control of Gabe Weller as he makes his way from the lower recesses of the Sprawl to the medical wing - in search of fellow Dead Space: Extraction survivor, Lexine Murdoch. In terms of control, Weller isn't any different from Isaac Clarke but he starts with some different default equipment - encouraging players to forgo their Plasma Cutter comfort zone in favor of Weller's suped-up pulse rifle. Any of the weapon schmatics the player unlocked throughout the main game are also available for purchase almost immediately in Severed - though funds and stored inventory do not carry-over.
Work benches, power nodes, and shops are scattered throughout the DLC corridors but with only two chapters for Weller to explore (and only around eight nodes to collect), there's little reason to spend resources upgrading any gun but the pulse rifle (which is already 3/4 of the way upgraded at the beginning of the DLC). It makes sense that the benches and shops are in the DLC but they would have been more effective if some of the other weapons started out with a few nodes already in place - to provide some actual options.
For the most part, Severed focuses on overwhelming Weller in high-intensity firefights - rather than the more survival horror tone of Isaac's adventure. The faster pace is due, in part, to the return of the corrupted engineer necromorph, the Twitcher, from the original Dead Space - but the DLC also presents room after room of swarms of mixed necromorph types. Where the majority of the main game tends to focus on one or two necromorph types at a time, there are numerous points in Severed where players will face-off against a more intimidating mix - for example: two twitchers, four pack members, a pair of black slashers, and an exploder. Since the DLC is only about an hour and a half, the pulse rifle/high-intensity combat is a fun change-up from the plodding and heart-pounding Isaac campaign.
Anyone expecting a haunting and immersive story, or a sense of the untold sprawl tragedies showcased in the lived-in Dead Space 2 environments (like the infamous day care center or the Unitologist church), could be somewhat disappointed with Severed - as Weller's journey is extremely straightforward (providing very little context) and is confined, primarily, to generic corridors and engineering rooms. That said, the second chapter of the story revisits an area that Isaac tore through - with the littered remains of dismembered necromorphs in his wake. This area provides an interesting opportunity for the player to see some key things from a different perspective - though any revelations only lead to more questions.
Dead Space 2: Severed is about what you'd expect - with some slight variations on the core Dead Space 2 gameplay. Priced at $6.99 on the PSN or 560 MSP on Xbox Live, it's a solid offering for anyone who is interested in the greater Dead Space mythos - or anyone just looking to shoot off more necromorph limbs.
One last thing, unlike Dead Space 2, there's nothing after the credits.
If you've yet to pick up Dead Space 2, make sure read our review of the main game.
Dead Space 2: Severed is available now for PS3 & Xbox 360.