Adding multiplayer to Dead Space 2's solo survival horror experience could have been like adding custard to a pizza - two ingredients delicious in isolation, but the devil's own balls combined.
When Visceral dropped the first hints there were visions of bucket-headed engineers playing out the world's slowest ever games of Capture the Flag and King of the Hill, but fear not, Dead Space 2 ain't going out like that.
Inspired by asymmetrical shooters like Aliens vs Predator and Left 4 Dead, Dead Space online is a four-on-four objective-based shootout where half play Bucket Heads and half play Necromorphs.
Just like Left 4 Dead, the humans have the Necromorphs massively outgunned and so playing the monsters' side is an exercise in being a bastard.
The Necromorphs have AI allies but are made of squishy meat wrapped in razor-sharp blades so the game becomes about hiding or closing the gap by any means available.
The Puker can attack from afar while Slashers move in for the kill, and the undead tentacle foetus Lurkers can scurry along any surface and attack with long-range spikes.
The child-like Pack Necromorphs can jump to high ledges and lurk in the shadows before pouncing and grabbing the humans by the bucket.
Already, EA have a multiplayer beta running on PS3 where the game has proven to be not nearly as smart or as unforgiving as Left 4 Dead.
Dead human players respawn after a lengthy countdown while Necromorphs respawn almost immediately. It's up to the space mutants to slow down the humans enough to stop them completing their objectives - transporting three items and building a bomb, for instance.
Left 4 Dead made player-controlled Infected weak but gave them a few thousand AI-controlled zombies to back them up and allowed the humans only one spawn.
It made for one of the most fraught multiplayer games around and a game which worked beautifully even when four players faced off against the AI.
It retained the pace and structure of the regular co-op game and made it better with the added smarts only a real player can bring. Dead Space 2 multiplayer is often a mob-handed rush-'em-up which matches none of the campaign's suspense and horror.
Fingers crossed for a pure four-player co-op humans vs AI mode where Visceral can take a firmer hand in the way games develop, but for now Dead Space 2's multiplayer is the game's weak link. The campaign is still a rock-solid five.
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