A jab at gaming – with love

Group Dynamics- Dead Space 2: Multiplayer

Here at Gaming Jab, we appreciate the fact that games aren’t always intended to be solo-experiences and we enjoy the often rich and rewarding gameplay that can be found when playing with a few friends.  While it doesn’t happen nearly as often as we’d like, when the opportunity presents itself for all three of us contributors to play with one another online, we quickly jump at the chance.  Most recently we had the chance to spend some time plumbing the depths of Dead Space 2 and it’s freshly minted mulitplayer experience.  Below, we each share our impressions on the experience:

Dead Space 2 Multiplayer is Like Danny Devito-  by Allyn

For anyone who’s a Schwarzenegger fan and over the age of 25, you may be familiar with the movie “Twins” starring Arnold as the genetically engineered superior twin, and Danny Devito as the accidental pre-natal leftovers.  This is exactly how I feel about Dead Space 2 Multiplayer.  The original Dead Space was such an amazing atmospheric thriller that truly brought something new and exciting to the genre, and I had high hopes that Dead Space 2 would raise the bar yet again.  While the single player campaign of DS2 is as immersive of an experience as the original (and similarly as enjoyable), there really wasn’t that big new “Wow-factor” that I was hoping for.  It appears that the developers instead opted to spend their time assembling a digital catapult with which they intended to launch themselves onto the shooter-multiplayer bandwagon.  Big mistake.  Part of the beauty of the Dead Space concept is enwrapped in what makes it so different from all of the other generic shooters out there, however, many of these qualities do not lend themselves to a fluid, cohesive multiplayer experience.  Yet they persevered anyway.  I had the opportunity to participate in the DS2 Multiplayer Beta about 6 months ago, and I will say that the developers were very responsive to the critiques of the Beta gamers, but to fully address many of the issues, they would have had to take a lot of the “Dead Space” out of the Dead Space 2 multiplayer.  The developers even seem to secretly acknowledge the lackluster multiplayer by not including a single multiplayer Trophy for the game.  The long and short of my review is that playing the multiplayer without at least two other people that you know (with mics), is pointless and frustrating.  As a human, without team communication it is next to impossible to complete goals, and many times your teammates are too preoccupied killing random necromorphs to bother helping with the mission.  As a necro, you will find that your characters feel very underpowered and “throw-away” against even a barely decent human squad, and again, without team communication to swarm kill humans, it is incredibly frustrating.  Get ready for the 2/31 k/d ratios . . . .  But bottom line, I would have rather had the developers focus on adding an amazing new element to the game that fit in line with the Dead Space concept (within the campaign) than to waste their time trying to force a multiplayer that just doesn’t feel like a natural extension of the game.  Can anyone say Co-Op mode?

Dead Space 2 Multiplayer- by Josh

I never thought that Dead Space needed a multiplayer. After playing the Dead Space 2 multiplayer I can continue by saying that it still doesn’t need one. I find the multiplayer to be intriguing, but ultimately unsatisfying. I like the idea of a four-player co-op survival type game, but this one doesn’t have the feel of working together as a team, e.g. Left 4 Dead. I think if Visceral Games had taken things from Left 4 Dead, it would have been a much better multiplayer experience. When playing on the human side, there is very little benefit in sticking together. One cannot heal another player, nor give them items such as health, stasis, & ammo. Also, the human melee does nothing to knock back enemy players. If anything sticking together makes the group easier to be targeted and maul by necromorphs. Moreover, when playing as a necromorph, I never fully felt I had the grasp of the controls. Not for my lack of controller knowledge, but there are no instructions on how to control necromorphs.

Lastly, the multiplayer comes up short and makes me long for Left 4 Dead 2 on the PS3. I think the setting, sound, maps, and gameplay (stasis & weapons) are great ideas, but really need to be reworked to make it compelling as a multiplayer experience.

Dead Space 2 Multiplayer- by Brian

My thoughts on the inclusion of multiplayer can be summed up in two simple words (or one catchy song), “Why Bother“?  To me, there are some games that just don’t need the multiplayer experience tacked on.  Dead Space and Metal Gear Solid are two recent examples where multiplayer has been included and I couldn’t care less about it.  The gameplay style of some games just don’t lend themselves well to multiplayer setups, in  my opinion.  The Metal Gear Solid mainline is built around stealthy, thoughtful, and slower paced gameplay.  Dead Space is built around a somewhat similar style, except replacing the stealth aspect instead with scrutiny of inventory management.  The scares and thrills of the singleplayer Dead Space experience are completely gone in multiplayer.  Instead of inching your way down a hallway not knowing if there is a monster waiting to jump out of the vent at the end, you’re instead sprinting down the hallway knowing full well that there are multiple players spawning in as monsters with unlimited lives.  All the tense anticipation is gone, and the “fast paced” action and “teamwork” left in it’s place are nowhere near as satisfying.

Another piece of gameplay I consider core to the single player game, the strategic dismemberment of limbs on the monsters, is severely nerfed/completely broken in the multiplayer action.  Maybe it was intentional or due to something uncontrollable like lag, but I almost always attempted to cut the necromorphs off at the legs and only very rarely was I successful.

Playing as the necromorphs is even more mindless.  The human team is the only side with true objectives; as a necromorph your only objective is to stop the humans from completing their objectives.  My basic play style while on the necromorph team was to spawn in as fast as I could.  Then I faced the strategic dilemma (heavy sarcasm) of either attacking from a distance or running up and melee-ing them to death.

In the end, I left feeling like the time and resources spent on the online multiplayer was wasted in the case of Dead Space 2.  Like Josh and Allyn, I yearn instead for a multiplayer game type which wouldn’t have destroyed the scares and suspense that Dead Space has in it’s singleplayer game.  The Dead Space series has some unique attributes that make the single experience so great; why ignore those attributes and simply throw your characters into a new game type where they don’t belong?  I feel a game mode similar to Left 4 Dead, or even a cooperative game mode would have been much preferred to the multiplayer mode that was actually delivered.  If for some reason they were unable to include gameplay similar to either of those, my next suggestion to them would have been just to skip multiplayer altogether and focus those resources elsewhere.


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