Dead Space 2 Multiplayer hands-on preview

For the first time, the gruesome horror experienced in Dead Space can be shared online with your friends. How does it work? Does it take away from the horror feel? And the most important question: Is it fun?  Rely on Horror went hands-on with the Dead Space 2 multiplayer in San Francisco to give some answers to these looming questions.

Multiplayer or co-op elements in horror games is a tough thing to accomplish, possibly even something that shouldn’t be done according to many hardcore fans of both horror and the previous Dead Space titles. Visceral Games competently shows us that multiplayer elements can be properly incorporated into a traditionally single-player genre without letting the single-player experience fall by the way side. So the question remains: are you ready to strategically dismember your friends?

Dead Space 2 multiplayer is set up 4 vs 4. You either choose the side of the humans or the Necromorphs in 5 objective-based multiplayer maps. Along with 3 other friends you can now team up as the horrific necromorphs to slice up the team of humans with gruesome melee attacks. Let us give you more insight into both parties:

The Necromorphs:
You are can control 4 different types of the slimy Necromorphs, including the Spitter, Puker, Lurker or the newly incorporated enemy “The Pack.” Your mission is to hunt down the humans in their fight through the Necromorph-infested Sprawl. All 4 types of enemies have their own unique melee attacks and abilities.

Your first priority is to stick together. Since you obviously cannot fire the place up with your weapons, everything depends on your ability to work as a team to strategically dismember the humans on their way to the objective. We’ve learned from practice that you aren’t going to have a chance if you don’t stick together. If you work as a team and be strategic though, the Necromorphs can be quite a lethal force. One situation I witnessed was when one player jumped onto a human, hacking on his head while another player-controlled Necromorph was coming from behind a distracted player to impale the incoming victim. This is your way to success. As you progress through the multiplayer game you will be able to unlock even stronger attack abilities to help you stalk, trap and devour the humans.

The Humans:
You’re jumping into the role of the Sprawl’s Security Force in your fight against the Necromorphs. In a team of 4 your goal is to make your way to the various objectives. It’s a tad bit easier than playing with the Necromorphs since you have the choice to use your own preferred selection of weapons and an advanced Sprawl security suit and the customization helps fit your wants and needs allows . Just like the Necromorphs your main priority is to stick with your team to not get served on a golden plate to your friends from space.

Players will of course have access to the stasis tool which is a very important element in the multiplayer game. Once you make progress through the multiplayer game, humans will also be able to unlock new weapons and other suit items.

Lets move on with my own hands-on impression of Dead Space 2 Multiplayer:

Arriving at the multiplayer demo stations, first thing I realized is that there were no Xbox 360 controllers– the only platform I played the first Dead Space on. So I spent the beginning of the event watching my comrades dismembering, jumping on, and hacking on each other. Obviously they had a lot to do, especially the Necromorph teams who underestimated the fact of “sticking together.”

At first it looked as if the Necro’s were pure cannon fodder for the humans. That is, until the PR guys instructed the players to attack in teams. It was fun to watch, but also pretty frightening, mainly due to the great looking Necromorphs and the new enemy called “The Pack” (these baby-like creatures will surely freak you out no matter if you play online or solo). There were a lot of journalists attending, thus I thought I got hands and eyes on singe-player first which eventually made me lose the chance to play the first multiplayer map being shown. If I hadn’t played single-player first I’d have had no chance to become familiar with the PS3 controls though so it wasn’t a loss more of an equal opportunity even missing the first map on display.

Around 9:30 pm I was finally able grab the pad. Here comes about 20 minutes of heart pounding hands-on impressions:

I’ve started with the Necromorph team where I preferred to use “The Pack.” I have to admit that I had a pretty hard time at the beginning, mainly because I often lost my way and unexpectedly ran into the humans. Over time we all tried to stick together and the first moments of success arrived. The most effective way to hunt the humans is by using a huge jump attack and then hitting X to slice up the Sprawl Security Force. If you have your partners with you, also attacking said human, the other party may only be able to stop you with stasis. Am I cruel when I say its just so enlightening to see the first human limbs falling to the ground on the map?

However, at the end of the game the result still read: Humans win.

Alright, we’re switching teams now. I am now a human and clearly having an easier, yet more terrifying experience. Thirty seconds into the game my comrades already suffered the first Necromorph attack and I heard “Help me!” all over the event space. So I tried to use stasis and saw some of them getting away while I got stabbed into the back by The Pack. Luckily I had some advanced players in the team who immediately where able to get me free again. When all 8 attending players meet directly its just so much fun. The pacing is extreme!

The animations of the pack are so in-human and disgusting, you’ll forget that these guys are human players sitting behind a PS3 pad! So I left my seat on the comfortable couch with sweating hands, a pounding heart and the evidence that multiplayer in horror games can indeed be just as terrifying as the single-player experience!  It’s the shocking and amazingly quick attacks from the Necromorphs who do that–their walking, running, and on top of that, improved death animations even topping that of the first game’s.

As an overall verdict my opinion of multiplayer in horror games has swapped from a total “NO!” to, “Sure, why not?”

It has yet to be seen if the multiplayer mode has a lot of longevity to it, but you could really feel how much effort has been put into Dead Space 2 multiplayer to not make this feel like a last-minute-addition rather than an important ingredient to the whole game’s delicious soup of limbs.

~ D. Mayr

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