At EA’s recent preview event in San Francisco, we had the chance to go hands-on with Dead Space 2’s multiplayer mode and leap into the twisted, mutated body of a ravenous Necromorph. Was our experience as something ripped straight out of The Thing a positively bloody one? Or did we find ourselves dismembered more often than we did the dismembering?
There was a single multiplayer map on display during the evening, a space station motif called Solar Array. Appropriately sun-baked, the derelict station was awash in the red-orange glow of a nearby sun. Occasionally throughout the match, the giant solar mirrors would twist outside the windows, catching the light and blinding our characters as we prepared to strike at the four helpless survivors of the SPRAWL security force. Not that we needed much distraction from our inability to kill a single living thing on the station.
During our short-lived match, we had the opportunity to play as a handful of creatures: the Lurker (a small, dog-like mutation with the ability to climb walls), the Pack (a child-like creature who can leap onto its enemies and tear at their flesh) and both the Spitter and the Puker, larger, longer-ranged enemies capable of dealing significant damage from a distance.
Playing as a Necromorph, however, is not an easy feat and some very intricate teamwork is required to take down the Sprawl security force. For the humans, at least, each map is relatively objective based, with up to five game types making the final cut, and whether the team is attempting to activate a bomb, or a beacon, your job as a Necromorph is simply to murder them before they can be successful.
While each creature variation has a unique ability, they’re fairly difficult to control –the Pack is incredibly fast, but tricky to maneuver precisely; the Lurker can climb on walls in order to get the jump on unsuspecting engineers, but you’re incredibly exposed as you position yourself and regain your inverted bearings; the two larger creatures offer bigger targets and stumble forward on mutated legs. Either way, you’re fodder for plasma cutters if you don’t selectively choose your spawn points and work in tandem to successfully eliminate the human threat.
The Solar Array level consists of several larger chambers branching off from a central hub, criss-crossing one another through a series of intersecting hallways. Each of the larger rooms are split-level, making them an ideal location to wait on the ceiling overhead as a Lurker, or roam the halls in Spitter/Puker pairs for lone engineers blindly turning corners. Regardless, you’re going to want to communicate with you team-mutants to effectively separate and whittle down the four Sprawl members.
In our experience, we weren’t very successful, taking weapons fire faster than we could deal damage, and in every moment where we went off on our own to try and claim a victim, we failed horribly without our fellow Necromorphs in tow…Turns out, you can spit as much bile as you want, or leap onto a dude’s neck and tear at their flesh all day, but if it’s just you, a random creature, versus a high-energy plasma cutter, you’re just not going to win.