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Dead Space 2 Multiplayer Hands-On Impressions

by on November 16, 2010

When Visceral Games and EA announced that Dead Space 2 will contain a multiplayer mode, it’s safe to say that most fans of the original weren’t particularly happy. Most fans assumed that it would just be a tacked on mode in an otherwise excellent game. Honestly, the majority of the GodisaGeek team thought exactly the same. However, a few weeks ago at the EA Showcase in London we got our hands-on with the multiplayer component of the game and were pleasantly surprised.

The only map playable at the EA Showcase was called Solar Array and like all the other four maps that will feature in the game, it is based on a unique location above The Sprawl. Consisting mostly of dimly lit narrow corridors, the map captures the essence of Dead Space perfectly and is a fitting setting for some 4 vs. 4 multiplayer action. That’s right folks; all the multiplayer matches in Dead Space 2 revolve around team based gameplay and, to be honest, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Every match will pit four humans (members of the Sprawl security force) against four nasty necromorphs. The human players will have different objectives depending on what map they play on, whereas the necromorph side will just have one consistent goal; kill the humans. For instance, on the Solar Array map the humans are tasked with delivering firing codes to a specific point so the Solar Array itself can be set off. Sounds easy enough, but with four human necromorphs about the place it most certainly isn’t.

To those people who might be worried about being stuck on one side every single match, worry no more. Visceral Games have set-up the game up so that sides are alternated between matches, which means everyone can get a taste of the two different styles of gameplay. The human side of things is exactly the same as the single player, so you will have access to the now iconic plasma cutter and abilities such as stasis to help you take down those pesky necromorphs. The “strategic dismemberment” mechanic still plays a big part and, as in the single player, it is the most efficient way to take down a necromorph or two.

Aww, the demon baby wants a hug...

Most of you will probably want to know about how the necromorphs play and what is on offer on that particular side. Well, you will have access to four different types of necromorphs and they all have differing play styles. First off you have the Pack, demon babies that love to get up close and personal. Next up you have the Lurker, these little guys like to hang out on walls and sneakily fire with their tentacles from a safe distance. Then to finish off, you have the Spitter and the Puker. These two chaps are more human-like necromorphs and they do exactly what their names suggest. The Spitter is equipped with an acid based attack whereas the Puker literally vomits on humans, an attack which ends up disorienting the victim as well as hurting them. All these necromorphs can see human players through walls (glowing flesh!) and choose where to spawn too. You are restricted to hatches and vents, but choosing the right one to spawn from becomes an important decision as a match progresses.

The necromorphs can also perform something known as paired attacks. These are execution like attacks which literally stop a human player in his tracks, leaving him/her open to further attack from other necromorphs. For instance, if you’re playing as a Pack necromorph (aka the demon baby) then you have the ability to leap onto the head of a human player and start clawing away. This results in a quick time event for the necromorph player and the human player. If the necromorph player taps the corresponding button faster than the human player, a successful execution attack is performed. If the human player wins the button mashing contest, he/she simply breaks free. If these attacks are planned correctly then they can be devastating, it’s all about working together as a team.

Oh right, guess he wasn't looking for a hug then!

As expected, the multiplayer component of Dead Space 2 also has an upgrade system. We were told that human players will be able to upgrade secondary attacks for weapons and abilities such as stasis whereas the necromorphs will gain access to stronger melee attacks. The upgrades are accessed by spending points earned during matches by performing various tasks. Killing enemies is obviously the main one, but you can also earn points by healing or rescuing a buddy and kill assisting. It might not sound like the world’s deepest upgrade system, but what Visceral Games have here is something that compliments their game world really well and, at the end of the day, that is what matters.

Visually, the multiplayer content is almost as good as what the single player has to offer. It is clear to see that certain aspects have been toned down in the multiplayer, but that is totally understandable. Despite that though, the game still manages to look rather good whilst the multiplayer carnage is taking place. The human players look super cool in their glowing helmets (we really need one those!) and necromorphs look disgustingly beautiful as always. Also, we loved the fact that necromorph heads-up display had a fleshy, organic feel to it. Sure, it’s a minor visual touch, but something that should be commended nonetheless.

As stated earlier, the quality of the Dead Space 2 multiplayer came as an unexpected surprise at the EA Showcase. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite provide the same scares as the single player content, but it certainly retains some of its atmosphere and sense of panic. Playing as both the humans and necromorphs is an enjoyable experience, even if the latter species is difficult to control at times. It might not set the gaming world alight, but the Dead Space 2 multiplayer is shaping up to be some good, solid fun and more than just a mere distraction away from the scares of the single player.