(EXTRA) STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
My preview session offered enough time for two playthroughs, ideally to play once solo and another co-op. Considering how much emphasis has been placed on the game’s drop-in/drop-out functionality, it’s surprising that "solo" and "co-op" are separate options in the main menu. There aren’t any major changes to the story when you play with a buddy. In fact, the second character has a strange habit of briefly disappearing in key cutscenes, only to reappear when the gameplay resumes. The one aspect of co-op I did like was the in-game exposition where the second character would comment on the current surroundings or situation.
Furthermore, I thought that the game’s difficulty would ramp up and down based on whether I was playing solo or not, but I didn’t see evidence of that during this session. So what was a reasonably manageable Hard playthrough solo is now an even easier playthrough on co-op. Enemy counts remain the same and they don’t require additional hits when you team up. Furthermore, Visceral makes things almost too convenient with item pick ups since you don’t have to share the ammo and health packs that you come across. So if you have beaten the two previous games and plan to play Dead Space 3 on co-op, we highly suggest you first experience this on Hard. Believe me, it doesn’t take long to max out your inventory with a dozen health packs.
Some parts of Dead Space 3 might lack the desired effect of suspense and the co-op experience might feel nerfed, but I’m still keeping an open mind about the direction Visceral is going for. I agree that simply setting the game on another base or ship wouldn’t add much to the series, even if the changes alienate some of the fans. Hopefully the side missions will provide enough content (and scares) to satisfy fans who associate Dead Space with darkened corridors and necromorphs popping out from corners and vents. And the added threat of the Unitologists taking the fight to Isaac contributes to the narrative, even if these human targets are easy pickings. Experiencing less than a quarter of Dead Space 3 only served to make me that much more curious about the full version. Keep an eye out for our review in the coming weeks, and Altman be praised!