This is kind of an odd review, but a reader of my Dead Space 2 review asked if I’d take a look at the Limited Edition Strategy Guide for the game, and since I had thirty bucks to spare ($27.57 to be exact, though the retail price is $39.99, so be warned), I ordered it off Amazon and decided to check it out. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I feel that before we begin I should make two points:
1.) I am not a huge follower of the Dead Space mythology like Alex is. I haven’t read the books or the comics, I haven’t seen the anime films based on it, and I haven’t played either of the two side story games in the series. As such, I have little actual exposure to the mythos of the series beyond what little I’ve culled together from the two main games and perusing the Dead Space wiki in preparation for my review of the second game.
2.) I beat the game without the strategy guide, so I can safely say that you likely won’t need it in order to complete the game.
With that in mind, I’m basically going to judge the guide based on six points:
Will this guide actually HELP you complete the game? – Simple enough.
Will this guide help you complete the game on Zealot or Hard Core, the two hardest difficulties? – Since each difficulty has its own achievement associated with it, it’s only fair that we judge the guide based on whether or not it can prepare me to take on those two difficulties, since they’re both rather rough.
Will this guide help you get all the achievements/trophies? – Simple enough.
Does the guide give you any useful information you might not know you needed? – Since I’ve beaten the game twice now, I think I’ve pretty much turned up most of the information I’m likely to turn up about how the game actually works. As such, if the guide gives me any information I wasn’t expecting, I’ll include it here.
What are the extras? – This being the Limited Edition guide, and thus TWICE the price of the normal guide, I’ll list here what the guide includes that you can’t get from the regular guide, and you can decide if that’s worth the extra twenty bucks, depending on how you acquire it.
Is it worth it? – Simple enough: does all of the above combine together to make the guide worth the asking price?
With all of that in mind, let’s get started.
Will this guide actually HELP you complete the game?
Oh HELL yes. Not only will it help you complete the game, it’ll help you find just about every last item along the way and warn you well in advance about anything that’ll be popping up in your way. The guide is a veritable font of information as far as it relates to completing the game, to the point where you’ll likely find every single piece of data and every single item pickup scattered throughout the game, with very little difficulty. If you feel like you might miss something along the way, this guide is a Godsend in that respect, and while you’d EXPECT the guide to do this thing, obviously, I can safely tell you that it does so expertly, in a fashion that is quite helpful and useful.
That said, I beat the game prior to acquiring the guide and got the achievement for collecting one hundred data files all on my own, so it’s fairly safe to say that you likely won’t even need it if you tend to explore a bit while playing games. I’m not saying that the game isn’t hard, because it can be on higher difficulties; I’m saying that there are a very small amount of hidden things in the game to find, and if you spend any amount of time poking around in games, you’ll find most of them on your own, I assure you.
Will this guide help you complete the game on Zealot or Hard Core?
Kind of? I mean, on one hand, the guide is very good at giving you an idea of what will be spawning and where it will be spawning from, so in that respect, it’s fine. However, the guide basically pretends that it doesn’t know about there being multiple difficulties, and while this is understandable in the sense that the game won’t spawn more enemies if you’re playing on harder levels (you can even switch difficulties on the fly if you want), the guide doesn’t address advanced tactics that will help you live very often, either. For instance, there’s a section in Chapter 5 where you’ll wander into a main hallway in the Unitology church and get attacked by a decent sized group of necromorphs. The guide recommends using the Line Gun or The Ripper to take them out while backed up against a wall. This is a fine tactic on, say, Casual, where four enemies swarming you at once is manageable, but on Zealot, forget that. Your best bet here is to back up to the doorway you entered from, thus creating a choke point where only one or two enemies at a time can come at you, making the assault manageable, which is something the guide should have recommended, both because it’s common sense and because this is likely the only way you’ll survive this battle in Hard Core mode.
The guide also doesn’t address the fact that you can play Zealot difficulty in New Game + mode, but cannot play Hard Core in this mode, or the fact that (supposedly) the achievements do not stack, so you’ll have to play both difficulties to unlock the respective achievements. This isn’t a big gripe, but if I’m dropping forty bones on a guide, I kind of expect this sort of attention to detail. Just saying.
Will this guide help you get all the achievements/trophies?
Nope. Now, don’t get me wrong, the guide DOES highlight several points where it would be possible to unlock various different achievements. It will point out to you that you can get the “Skewered in Space”Â achievement at the second pressure window you come across, for instance, and it will suggest points where you can unlock other, easier to earn achievements. However, the guide doesn’t do a very good job of explaining how some of the more complicated achievements could be unlocked. For instance, “My Boom Stick”Â can pretty much be unlocked the first time you encounter a group of The Pack necromorphs after acquiring the Line Gun, but the game doesn’t really suggest that this is an option, well, at all. It also doesn’t really give you any hints on how to get Shock Therapy (I ended up having to do it in Chapter 14 before fighting The Brute through a lot of trial and error), and while it hints that you can unlock C-Section in Chapter 15, it DOESN’T tell you that you’ll pretty much have to switch over to Zealot, as the secondary fire from the Contact Beam will likely kill ANYTHING you see on most lower difficulties before you can even try to hit with the primary fire. A lot of the hints the guide provides are also kind of basic and not terribly helpful in this respect, so you’ll likely be off to Gamefaqs if you’re looking for help on getting a lot of the achievements.
Does the guide give you any useful information you might not know you needed?
Well, it does tell you how to find Peng and when to dismember Lightspeed Boy, but I found the former by going to Youtube and the latter by keeping my eyes open, so your mileage may vary on those hints.
The guide also does provide you with a full strategy guide for Dead Space: Extraction, which comes with the PS3 version of the game, so if you have the PS3 version and the Move, and you’ve never played the game, that could be helpful. It also provides you with a basic explanation of how Dead Space: Ignition works and points out the four doors you unlock in the main game by playing Ignition, and since the game is only five bucks and you get some decent freebies out of this, it could be worth it.
The guide also has a few other interesting things in it, such as a solid multiplayer guide that will give you an idea of what to expect on each map and what sort of EXP you’ll earn by performing various tasks, as well as a full breakdown on what each of the DLC gear options offer, which is pretty neat. It also includes some excerpts from Dead Space: Martyr, concept art from Dead Space: Aftermath, and a whole mess of pages from Dead Space: Salvage, so if you wanted to get some extra content from those pieces of the universe you’ll likely enjoy them. Oh, and the guide comes with a full Unitology alphabet if you want to spend like eight hours translating the graffiti on the walls as you wander through the game, and while I’d sooner actually be DOING something, for those of you who want every last piece of cool stuff from a game, you’ll likely enjoy that.
What are the extras?
The Limited Edition is numbered and hard bound, so if that sort of thing matters to you, go nuts. It also comes with a blood-splattered Church of Unitology letter… written in the Church of Unitology alphabet (it’s also translated later in the guide so you don’t have to play master cryptographer to read it). There is also commentary from several people, including the author of Martyr, B. K. Evenson, the producers of Aftermath, and the writer and artist of Salvage. There’s a five page spread on how Isaac’s suit was assembled in real life for the game, complete with numerous pictures of it coming to life, an interview with the art director, and a whole lot of concept art, both from Salvage and from the main game proper.
Is it worth it?
That depends entirely on whether or not you love the extended Dead Space universe. As a strategy guide, it’s fine, but you’d get the same content out of the normal guide for half the price. As a collector’s piece, however, well, it’s not going to be worth anything as a collector’s item, and unless you care about owning the concept art and writer/artist/creator interviews, you’re not likely to care much about the extra content as a result of that. Even if you are a fan, there are like fifteen pages of interviews relative to the forty or so pages of artwork and concept pieces, so even then, it’s all pretty (or ugly, depending) pictures with a few snippets of information here and there, so unless you’re REALLY a huge fan of the franchise, you might well not take anything away from the Limited Edition guide.
As a guide, the Dead Space 2 Limited Edition Guide is a fantastic guide for a game that doesn’t need one. Everything the guide offers you’ll likely discover on your own with a little trial and error, so unless you’re the sort of player who needs their hand held through every section of every game, you’ll mostly figure out everything the guide would tell you on your own, and the two notably useful pieces of information the guide would give you can be summed up as such:
1.) You can earn Lightspeed De Milo in Chapter 3 in the shopping concourse by shooting the limbs off the giant statue, and
2.) You can find Peng in Chapter 7 by going into the left side server room and lining up the four blocks so they all light up blue, then taking the new shaft you open up into the hidden room.
It’s nice that they include a strategy section for the multiplayer, but you’ll likely not care enough to spend time with it. It’s nice that they include a full strat guide for Extraction but come on, it’s a friggin’ on-rails shooter, give me a break. It’s very nice that they include all of the specs for the DLC, but all of the guns are exactly the same as the ones you’ll find normally with some minor stat improvements, and all of the armor is outclassed by the elite suits you’ll find on second playthroughs, so at best you’ll find it useful in Hard Core mode, that’s it. For the most part, the guide isn’t helpful enough at explaining what you can get and where you can get it to be worth plunking down cash for unless you are bad at video games, and even then, there are free guides on Gamefaqs and Youtube that will likely be just as helpful if you can get over not having screenshots.
As a novelty piece, well, if you’re impressed with the contents of the Limited Edition of the game, you’ll likely find value in the contents of the guide as well. The inclusion of the Unitology alphabet is cute, though you could likely decode it by me telling you that the letters on the front of the guide spell out “Limited Edition”Â if you’re hardcore enough to do so (and if you want to decode the messages in the game, I’d assume you must be). The inclusion of snippets from Salvage, Aftermath, and Martyr are also nice if you’re interested in these things. The Limited Edition content does explain the motivations of the various people going into the project, as well, so if this thing matters to you, again, you’ll likely take away a good amount of value from owning the guide, if only because the guide gives you plenty of useful information on the creators of the game and what they wanted to accomplish. In the end, though, most players will find it to be useless content in a guide they didn’t need, so unless you can pick it up cheap (and in about two months you likely will be able to do so), it’s not really worthwhile unless you’re a big fan.