If you're a fan of mind-numbingly violent games, then you have no doubt heard of the Dead Space franchise. Developed by Visceral Games, the second installment in the story of Isaac Clarke, Dead Space 2, is set to hit store shelves on January 25th. Initial reviews have praised the brilliant linear storyline of the title, stating that it is the defining horror title of this console generation. Will Visceral's game live up to the hype, delivering a satisfying sequel to the 2008 hit?

In the predecessor to this month's release, players were introduced to Isaac Clarke, a curious engineer going to the USG Ishimura, a massive ship in distress. Clarke has a personal motivation for doing so, finding out what happened to his long-lost girlfriend. While this seems like the standard, noble tale of modern gaming, Isaac finds a bunch of reanimated corpses, known in the Dead Space universe as Necromorphs. At the end of this adrenaline-fueled adventure, our hero's girlfriend, now a Necromorph, attacks him and the game goes black.

At the beginning of Dead Space 2, the aforementioned protagonist of the series wakes up after receiving some medical treatment on the Sprawl, a densely populated city built on a moon of Saturn. In the very hospital in which Isaac was saved, players are immediately thrown into a hostile, Necromorph-infested environment. Throughout the plot, it is gradually revealed that Isaac is mentally insane with guilt, and he must battle his inner demons, hallucinating and speaking to himself, while completing a somewhat flat quest of destroying a religious idol.

The story is extremely linear – typically a negative attribute in the gaming industry – but this actually makes Dead Space 2 far better, guiding players through a heart-pounding experience that you might not want to play in the dark.

The Dead Space franchise employs the use of a very interesting combat system referred to as "Strategic Dismemberment".  By utilizing this feature, one is presented with an extremely satisfying combat experience. For example, you can pin the arm of a nasty Necromorph to a wall and then blow its brains out. Players can also utilize environmental features to get rid of undead hordes of creepy creatures, such as creating a space vacuum by shooting out a window. Though players were plagued in the game's predecessor with the scarcity of ammo, it almost enhances the experience in Dead Space 2's modified ecosystem.

While the linear nature of the single-player campaign appears to take value away from the game, the "Hardcore" game mode is a reason to come back for a challenge. With supplies limited, enemies more difficult, and no checkpoints, players are challenged to run through the game, only giving you the ability to save three times. How about that for a challenge?

Dead Space 2 adds multiplayer functionality, though initial opinions on the feature have been remarkably negative. Players are pitted against each other on two teams – the humans and the Necromorphs. The humans have an objective to take and hold while Necromorphs have to annoy their adversaries long enough that they quit out of frustration. Dead Space 2 fell victim to the disease ailing games everywhere – the necessity for a multiplayer mode.

All negativity regarding multiplayer aside, it appears as if Visceral Games is putting forth a rewarding, unique experience. As an added bonus, PlayStation 3 buyers will also get a copy of Dead Space: Extraction, a well-received prequel made for the Wii scaled into HD.

What do you, fellow gamers, think? Are you going to shell out the cash to pick up Dead Space 2? Are you looking forward to killing swarms of Necromorphs? Let us know in the comments below.