Dead Space 2

[Hands-On] Dead Space 2 Multiplayer

We played Dead Space 2's competitive multiplayer. Oh, yes, that's right. Visceral's new space horror title will let you transform into a Necromorph, so you can finally experience that sweet feeling of getting your limbs shot off.
Author: Parjanya C. Holtz
Published: September 13, 2010
When a studio decides to integrate a competitive multiplayer mode into a formerly single-player-only affair, I usually tend to react with a feeling of skepticism towards their newfound efforts. That might specifically have to do with this modern trend of publishers making their developers come up with some form of multiplayer for basically any and every type of game out there. Is that a marketing thing? I honestly don't know.

In some cases, those unusual efforts turn out well; in others, not so much. Fortunately, it seems that Dead Space 2's multiplayer is shaping up to become something more than just a marketing gimmick Visceral was tasked with implementing by EA. Honestly, I was very surprised by how right it felt to be killing Necromorphs (or humans, depending on which side I was on) alongside three other player-controlled members on my team.

With the whole flock of who's who of video game journalism present, the good guys at Visceral and EA didn't even complain when the wild bunch started resting their drinks on top of the eight running PS3s(!) and commenced in using their greasy fingers as laser pointer substitutes. Yes, we ruined the polish of those beautiful, high-end Samsung LED TVs that were set up. No, none of us feels bad about it.

The concept of DS2's multiplayer is fairly simple: have four human Sprawl Security Force officers try to complete a series of objectives within a set amount of time, while letting the Necromorphs out of their cages er, vents.

While the human side could alternate between two main weapons on the fly and occasionally rely on their stasis powers, the Necromorph team got to choose between four different character classes: the 'Lurker', a baby Necromorph that can scale most surfaces while attacking as a kind of sniper by shooting three barbs from its tentacles; the Spitter, which essentially is your standard close combats Necromorph from Dead Space 1; the Pack, which, as the name suggests, works best attacking in small groups of two or three, with their most effective attack being one where they jump onto a human and start biting him manically it's X button mashing from there; And last but not least there was a nice fellow called the Puker. Guess what he pukes. Try not to get puked on; it tends to kill you.

EA let us go hands-on with two maps (out of a supposed total of five in the final game). The first, Titan Mines, had the humans find three parts of a bomb, bring them to a generator, and then defend the completed explosive until it went off, opening up a new path which lead to a final Necromorph encounter. Sounds like fun? It was.

As expected, Dead Space 2 once again presented itself as quite the visual treat, across both the single- and multiplayer modes. That became especially apparent when playing the second map, Escape, which is set inside a space station that allows players to watch the sun come up behind a planet in the distance through a giant panoramic window. The map's objectives had the humans activate four terminals to let them fight their way to a bunch of escape pods.

Something I was especially pleased with was the balancing. It never felt like one or the other team had a clear edge in battle, and winning or losing always seemed to be directly tied to a team's actual communication skills or lack thereof.

With all that we've seen of the game so far, I am absolutely not worried about the integration of competitive multiplayer. Any fear of it getting in the way of the single-player campaign's quality seems to be unwarranted. Instead, it very much comes across as if Visceral is doing a tremendous job of adding a small but intelligent cherry topping to this already fantastic looking, single-player-focused sequel to one of this generation's best games.