One of my favorite multiplayer games that I still play to this day is Left 4 Dead (both the original and sequel). It was with much anticipation, therefore, that Dead Space 2
was announced to not only have a multiplayer feature (which was much missed in the original) but that it would also follow a precedent set by Valve to extend the character options beyond the human race. Instead of strictly playing co-operatively against the AI enemy, or having a slew of Isaacs versing each other, Visceral has decided to let the opposing team take the face of the Necromorphs.
The three Necromorphs available in the Dead Space 2 multiplayer beta are the Pack, Lurker and Spitter. Although you aren’t given much direction as to how to play (I also don’t typically play first-person shooters on my PS3), it’s easy to pick up each of the Necromorphs’ abilities after a few trials, errors and observations.
My favorite of the three is undoubtedly the Lurker. The Lurker’s main intrigue is its ability to cling onto walls and ceilings, giving it a different angle of attack. Although it’s a bit of a headache getting used to the rapidly changing camera angles as you leap onto said walls and ceilings to shoot out of your tentacles at unsuspecting Isaacs, you’ll quickly orient yourself and expect the jolt of vision before it comes. Being tiny, your advantage is definitely in being hard to spot and hard to catch, as well. You can lash your tentacles at enemies when in a tight spot, and it’s great fun watching them flail about attempting to crush or shoot you.
The Spitter is second best. In a way it can be likened to L4D2’s Spitter, but Dead Space 2’s spit attack is much more immediately felt (as opposed to soaking the ground with acid). These creatures are big and gangly, like the typical Necromorphs you see in the game. Its bigger figure makes it vulnerable to the enemy, who can dismember your before you even reach them. Sneaking up on your enemy is difficult. You are a much easier target as the Spitter, but the damage you can do is great should you avoid the plasma cutters firing in your direction and be able to strike with acid spit. They will also only activate once you’ve earned enough kills to use them, making their extra power a challenge to build up to.
Lastly, the Pack is my least favorite and one which I tended to avoid. Their abilities seem to be the most limited of the three. Don’t let their child-like appearance fool you, however. These Necromorphs can latch on to their enemies, after which a competition of who can press the “x” button the fastest then ensues. Teamwork here is essential; this is either in the form of helping the Pack with damage, or helping your human friend by shooting the Pack off of them. However, this is not a unique ability to the Pack. Merely, it is the Necromorph race that seems most fitting in which to use it. The Lurker and Spitter can also latch onto their enemies. Otherwise, the Pack can also lash out wildly at their enemies, which is best parried by melee strikes of your own. For some reason, no one in my beta lobbies seemed to see the genius of this method, and instead chose to shoot desperately at the floor. Yes, I was thinking the same thing: pansies.
Picking your Necromorph isn’t a matter of the spawn’s decision. In Dead Space 2, unlike the Left 4 Dead series, you choose both your spawn location as well as which Necromorph you would like to spawn as. Bursting through vents, you and your teammates can collaboratively decide what Necromorphs to use at your will. Alright, who are we kidding? Inevitably everyone will be choosing to be one of the Pack as seems to be the most popular on the servers I’ve been on. But, at the very least, there will be no complaints and excuses that a player was defeated because of being forced into being a particular Necromorph (ahem, L4D players, you know who you are).
The mutliplayer matches are so far fairly limited, being a beta run. You have one map and one mode. In the Titan Mines map you are tasked with either attaining pieces of equipment to compile together and defend in order to take out as many Necromorphs as you can in the underground level, or you are tasked with destroying it and preventing the humans from escaping. Playing with the objective of humans is fun and a great adrenaline rush to reach the pieces of a Shockmine and compile them before you are attacked. Carrying parts of the Shockmine will also slow you down, so you are reliant on teamwork here.
Fortunately, being Isaac isn’t as boring as it may seem in comparison. Dead Space fans will know that Isaac’s suit comes with certain abilities, of which you can use Stasis and Telekinesis in the multiplayer beta. Furthermore, the more you play and the more you level in rank, the more weapons will be accessible to you as part of the Tiedemann security. This is a fairly basic component of a first-person shooter multiplayer.
All in all, if the Dead Space 2 multiplayer is indicative of just a minor portion of the kind of multiplayer activities to be found when the game releases this coming February, it seems that a new breed of versus rounds that so appealed me to L4D will be found in DS2.