When Multiplayer Isn’t Needed: Dead Space 2

Sequels always have to bring something new to the fold, a new hook to bring back older players and possibly introduce a new round of gamers to the franchise. That’s Dead Space 2, not only upping the odds for the campaign with its world-enriching Titan moon location, but cramming in multiplayer too.

That’s odd, because Dead Space is the last place you would likely want multiplayer, yet here it is. Credit is due to the developers for crafting a unique, Splinter Call-esque versus mode, players on opposing sides either playing as humans or Necromorphs. It’s vastly different to the usual shooter, the deformed creatures focused on more close range assaults, the humans not only having to shoot them, but complete objectives too.

This is survival horror though, a genre that seems to pride itself on being a bit clunky. Forcing single player character Isaac to stiffly maneuver adds to the tension, knowing he can’t turn on a dime meaning enemies approaching from the rear could be devastating to the health bar. Apply that to a multiplayer setting, where the opposing Necromorphs are almost forced to jump on the back of humans to utilize their speed advantage, and those controls suddenly aren’t as fun.

Multiplayer was added for the usual reasons, to spruce up a sequel that at its core is relatively the same. The secondary purpose is obvious, the disc slapped with EA’s online pass and plenty of DLC. Solo outings aren’t usually repeated just because a new gun has been added. Let’s face it: It’s more effective to use a new weapon in a fresh, 15-minute multiplayer match-up than in a 10-hour campaign you’ve already completed.

There are few arguments against this “more is better” approach. I mean, who can say that some multiplayer is worse than none? The sticking point is obvious though: It begs the question as to how much time was spent developing that section that could have been spent further refining the campaign. A section clipped from the first game, re-inserted late into DS2, feels almost arbitrary. Could new content have been squeezed here as opposed to a slight rehash?

Now that the game is out, it is definitive that Dead Space did not need multiplayer. It is deserving of credit, the design such that the brawling stands out, but the series will live on for its campaign, fighting inner and outer demons through a rendered story worth being told. Map packs need not apply.