I’ll admit it: I was skeptical when EA first announced that Dead Space 2 would contain multiplayer. The first game introduced a solid horror title that managed to strike fear and respect into the hearts of the fans (even with little or no promotion from EA) and I was worried that this was a step too far: I’ll happily admit I was wrong. The multiplayer aspect itself works under a rather simple premise: one team plays as the humans, while another team plays as the Necromorphs. Simple in essence yes, but it excels far beyond such simple terms. We had the chance to indulge ourselves in a rather generous amount of Dead Space 2 recently at the “Dead Space: Exposed” event for the press recently. Playing the single player, the multiplayer and the portable version of the game means we have a solid view on what you can expect. Put your fears aside and relax, Dead Space is back and boy oh boy is it on form.
Let’s make one thing clear: I am aiming to be quite vague as I really don’t want to spoil anything – so consider this a safe read:
Dead Space 2 single player hands-on:
The single player demo we played is the first level in the game, which was actually debuted as a world exclusive to us prior to getting hands-on with it. The demo opens with Issac commited (due to the events of Dead Space 1) and subsequently trapped in a straight-jacket. The intro sequence is one of mastery and horror: combining both a catch-up of the first game aswell as an insight into current events, you find yourself ready to burst with anticipation. Through a series of events, all hell has broken loose and you find yourself confronted by a doctor – while trying to free you he is attacked by a necromorph. I’ll stop myself from spoiling what happens next because the next sequence is equally one of the most disturbing and impressive events I have seen in a game to date. The rest of the level is essentially spent running through claustrophobic corridors and escaping the encroaching threat. Visceral have created an immense sense of vunerability and mortality in the first section of the game within both the player and Issac: gone are the plasma cutters, stasis and armour and instead you find yourself running for your life with no way of defending yourself.
Further on into the level you finally aquire the iconic plasma cutter. Shredding the limbs of the necroporphs means certain death but now you can also use the shredded limbs as weapons themselves. Using stasis, you can pick up the fallen limbs and impale anything else that comes near you with a satisfying crunch and splat. There’s a few scenes in the first level that will leave you wondering really how far the game pushes the current systems because the advanced lighting methods, texturing and effects all come together to create a stunning experience. Dead Space has returned and this time you can’t afford to miss it.
Dead Space 2 multiplayer hands-on:
Games like Dead Space will always face the uncertain future with a breath of anxiety. First of all, there’s clearly a winning formula there – yet, the head honchos in the respective companies think that introducing a multiplayer aspect into the mix will work: not always chaps. Thankfully though on this occassion – it does, and very well.
The muliplayer game works like a mix between team deathmatch and capture the flag – it did for us anyway (as we all wanted to fight rather than complete orders). The humans are set certain goals like finding items, carrying objects and more, while the necromorphs have to stop them. Playing as a human means you stand on familiar ground – guns, armour and a flashlight. Working exactly like the controls for Issac, the multiplayer humans operate very sharply and all movements are quick and fluid. Working as a team (listen up campers) means you can watch each others back, but make sure you pay close attention to the vents as you never really know when a necro’ will appear. To see an incoming onslaught (especially if you are alone) of necromorphs coming your way is actually pretty creepy at first, that is until you start stomping and generally opening up a world of pain with secondary ammo like grenades and more. Each multiplayer character can be upgraded, armour colour changed and weapons can be changed too. The upgrading system resembles the upgrading in Halo: Reach in many respects. This customisation will nuture team players (each having their own gun and colour) and the game encourages you to realise that nothing will befall those that work alone: but death itself.
Playing as the Necromorphs, as you may expect, works very differently. Resembling Left 4 Dead, you can’t just run at the humans (as you won’t last long), instead, try to pick them off, lure them around corners and hide before you strike. Having a selection of four Necromorphs means there’s a good solid selection on show: the pack are the child like creatures (fast and agile), the lurker are the longe-range attackers (the baby-like creatures with tentacles), the puker is a beast of a Necromorph (vomiting on people) and finally the spitter (who is strong and fast). All have their ups and downs and they key to winning is a strong mix of them all. Finding myself (as a human) facing a long-range attack, with a spitter slashing at me was one of both exhilaration and frustration. Spawning as a Necromorph is one of the most impressive parts of the multiplayer as players can pick their spawn point. You can designate vents, holes in the ground and more, and if you patiently wait for a human to pass you, you can catch them blindsided and initiate your attack from behind – resulting in a vicious outcome. The higher your rank, the stronger your attacks so there is an impetus placed on loyalty. The multiplayer works very well: it’s quick, barbarous and familiar – we simply can’t wait
Dead Space 2 IOS hands-on:
Ok so I wouldn’t be the biggest iPhone/iPad gamer and indeed, prior to Dead Space : Exposed – I had never even held an iPad but that didn’t stop me getting hands-on with Dead Space IOS and it failed to stop me from wanting it.
The game itself (we were told) will contain six levels and a general variety of guns (five), so you shouldn’t be expecting a game on par with the console versions, but what you will get is a solid and rather enjoyable portable experience. Looking very much like an early PS2 title, the game is jaw-droppingly gorgeous – from the sharp graphics to the model of Issac – it can respectively stand tall next to the other titles as, thankfully, it “feels” like Dead Space. Set between Dead Space 1 & 2, you play as Vandal who, like Issac, faces a horde of necromorphs. Speaking with Andres Constantinidis (developer of Dead Space IOS), he assured me that the game worked smoothly and he predicited that “People will be impressed”, putting him up to the challenge I started to move Vandal with the movement of my left thumb, and aiming with the use and movement of my right. To my absolute surprise, it is beyond impressive: smooth, precise and natural to the touch, the movements surpass anything I have ever played (in the portable world). The actual controls themselves (aside from movement) work well but don’t work as smoothly. Firing your weapon is easy – just tap the screen while initiating a secondary attack, by sharply rotating the iPad, is a little big more problematic but satifying. To reload, players have to touch the gun (ammo counter), this sometimes leaves you very vunerable to attacks from the horde of necromorphs, which is frustrating as this to be could have been avoided (the reloading could have been mapped to a frontal bow of the system). All in all the portable version of the game works very well, looking about as good as they come, it’s going to be worth the money.
When asked about release dates and more Andres Constantinidis replied: “You’ll have to wait, I can’t say much but you’ll know soon” so we expect announcements any day now. As for pricing, we’d anticipate the game to come in around the €4.99 mark so we’ll keep our eyes peeled for more.
Dead Space IOS is actually out now. Released today, you can get it here: