Dead Space 2
I’ve just returned from a knee-deep sludge through the Dead Space 2 multiplayer beta and all the gore and mayhem that it entails. I’ve gunned down waves of abominations and had my body torn to ribbons as a human. I’ve vomited toxic bile and pounced upon hapless victims as a necromorph. Dead Space 2’s multiplayer is frenzied and fun, requiring tenacious determination and altruistic cooperation. Now let me tell you about my harrowing tale deep in the mines of Titan.
Starting out on the necromorph team, three other players and I chose which monster to become. I began with the Lurker, a deformed infant with tentacle arms that can simultaneously shoot three deadly projectiles. The necromorphs’ view is third-person like the humans, which makes aiming the triple attack easy. Running across walls and the ceilings was a blast, if a little disorienting. Soon the novelty of wall-climbing wore off, and I was left with an underpowered distance unit with too little health.
Next I became one of the Spitters, which wretch acidic bile from far away and pack a devastating melee attack. The unit is the hardiest, but its inability to jump holds it back. I consistently found myself being gunned down as I made a beeline for a target. Hopefully, Visceral Games will increase their speed.
It wasn’t until I tried one of the Pack necromorphs that I settled into my groove. These elementary school-sized mutants may appear to be fodder, but they are not to be underestimated. I exploited my extreme speed and rapid claw swipes to murder dozens of disoriented gunmen. Landing perfectly-aimed pounce attacks while my teammates racked up assist points was a thrill. You may spend a few rounds getting torn apart by enemy plasma cutters, but when you find a necromorph that suits your playstyle, it’s a total blast.
I had a harder time getting comfortable as a human. Enemy monsters are free to rush into the spawning area and overwhelm your team. We had to constantly check the shadows, cover one another’s backs, recover health, and blast frenzied packs of necromorphs. The plasma rifle is a reliable machine gun with a beastly grenade launcher, but the plasma cutter’s power and precision makes it the overall winner. Strategically dismembering gangly Spitters was easy enough, but nailing the smaller Pack and Lurker unit types was a little harder. Sometimes the rapid spawning made it feel like we were facing eight or more other players, but our combined firepower usually did the trick. Stopping enemies dead in their tracks with a stasis field saved my teammates’ lives several times. Surviving a torrent of ghastly enemies was a definite rush. Giving the player the power to choose their necromorph type and respawn as a human was a good choice on Visceral’s part, and makes this much more action-packed than the comparable versus mode of Left 4 Dead.
If you were able to hold your own in the corridors of the first Dead Space, you’ll be able to last solo in multiplayer for a while, but you won’t win the match. You and your teammates must combine forces to gather items scattered about and bring them to a central point on the map. Carrying the equipment makes you slower, and you’ll be overwhelmed if you don’t work together. My team never managed to pull it together and destroy the mineshaft door, but I had fun trying.
Overall, Dead Space’s signature ambiance and tension makes a surprisingly solid transition to multiplayer. I was only interested in more single-player scares when I initially leaned about this sequel, but my hands-on time has me dying to play this with my friends. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some hopeless humans to decapitate.