Let me start off by saying I wasn’t really sure that the Dead Space franchise needed multiplayer. Every time I hear of a great single player game getting multiplayer added to it my gut reaction is to become hesitant about it and ponder on how it could impact the single player portion of the game. It’s not that I hate multiplayer, in fact I have been playing a lot of multiplayer this console generation. However I still care more about the single player aspects of games, where characters and story are the driving force of the game. So with some trepidation I dove into the multiplayer beta.
Let me start of with the technical aspects of the Dead Space 2 multiplayer beta. I haven’t had any technical problems with it. The frame-rate is always smooth, the graphics are good, sound design is still excellent, and the controls are solid. So from that standpoint it seems Visceral Games is doing a very good job with their first attempt at adding competitive multiplayer to the Dead Space franchise. With that all said, lets talk about the actual gameplay. You know, what really makes or breaks any well made game.
You get to play as either a human, which are a security force and have all the powers you have in the single player aspect of the game, or the grotesque necromorphs. Both play and feel completely different, as they should. Especially since they have different objects. When playing as the humans you are tasked with collecting parts to bring back to central location to assemble something (in this case making a bomb). When you are the necromorphs, you simply want to kill the humans and stop them from completing their objects.
The human characters play and feel just like Issac from the original Dead Space. You start off with the plasma cutter and a pulse rifle. These two weapons are very useful, and you can take down any of the necromorphs using them. However, you don’t have unlimited ammo or depots to refill your ammo. You need to pick up ammo from dead enemies. You also have the stasis ability that you should be familiar with if you played the first game. Much like the limited ammo, this ability is very limited. You only get to use it once per spawn, unless you get a pick up from a fallen necromorph. If they didn’t limited these things the game would be very imbalanced. The four human players would easily be able to take out the four necromorph players and other AI enemies. However, because you can’t just spam stasis or unload clip after clip into the enemies you need to be more precise and strategic.
You will want to shoot off limbs of the necromorphs to take them down faster, or slow them down. It also seems that the different baddies are weak against different weapons, so you’ll also want to experiment with that as well. Instead of having to firing a lot of shots, maybe instead one or two well placed shots from a different weapon will take down the necromorph much faster. I really like that they included this aspect in the multiplayer. If you don’t panic when you get rushed you should be able to fend off most attacking hordes of necromorphs. Especially if you use your stasis as an effective means to control larger numbers of enemies.
Another aspect of this multiplayer that I enjoy is that it forces you to work together in order to complete your objectives, which isn’t just kill the most monsters as possible. There may be some kind of deathmatch, but in the beta that mode isn’t present. Yes, killing more necromorphs nets you more points to level up but you would get even more points from completing objectives. this should keep most players focused, but you never know when it comes to online multiplayer.
I had some worries about playing as the necromorphs. Mainly because an individual creature doesn’t really stand a chance against one of the security officers. They just aren’t powerful enough and don’t have as much life. Thankfully, the respawn is very quick in Dead Space 2 and what is even better is that you get to choose where you spawn from. This allows you to spawn close to the action and even to plan a sneak attack by spawning just ahead of or just behind the human players.
Another factor that evens the the odds for the necromorphs is that there are always other non-player controlled necromorphs populating the map. They might not be the smartest teammates, but their numbers sure do help. They create more targets for the officers to worry about and can help weaken the human players.
The necromorphs are also given two abilities that greatly aid them. First off you are able to see the vascular system of the human officers through walls. This allows you to be strategic about your attacks and get the jump on your enemies. Speaking of which, the other ability is that you are able to leap onto or latch onto human players as necromorphs. If you win the quick time event, for lack of a better term, you will perform a brutal execution on the player. This allow you to take down a much stronger opponent all by yourself if you are quick enough.
Overall, I am very impressed with the Dead Space 2 multiplayer beta. It plays great, and still feels like Dead Space. There is still that sense of tension and stress present in the single player portion of Dead Space. It also seems to be pretty balanced in its current state. If they release enough maps and modes, and have a deep enough progression system it should make for a very fun and unique multiplayer in addition to what should be a great single-player game.