Dead Space 2's single player campaign is an anxious creep through a string of dark corridors to a soundtrack of groaning steelwork and laboured breath. There are, of course, interruptions to the taut atmosphere: the burst of a gangly Necromorph through a dilapidated wall, or a screaming phantom that breaks through the fragile sanity of your mind. But the journey through Dead Space II is characterized primarily by its bars of rest, not by its bars of fury.
Dead Space 2's multiplayer mode, by contrast, is a cacophony of uninterrupted noise, a soundtrack of un-muffled industrial screams and the relentless, hot pitter-patter of gunfire. It's all fury, the air thick with dismemberment, the floor wet with gloop. Eight players are split into two teams. One plays the role of the Necromorphs, the other plays the role of the Humans, in one of the most frenetic tussles of survival and dominance in gaming.
By comparison to Halo or Call of Duty, play options seem limited. You cannot set options other than choosing which of the five arenas on offer you want to play in. You always play with two teams of four. After the first round, the roles of Necromorph and Human are swapped, and after the second round the game is over, with experience points doled out based on your performance in each. There are no straight Last Man Standing matches to be had, each of the six levels instead arriving with an immovable set of objectives for the Humans to complete and the Necromorphs to prevent.
It's like a stripped-down and enclosed version of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. The mission objectives for the Humans are interesting and vary between each of the five stages.
In 'Titan Mines', for example, the Humans must gather different components for a bomb and deliver them to the centre of the map before the timer runs out. In this slow-motion Capture The Flag, whichever team member is carrying a bomb component cannot run, and must be protected by his team-mates while the Necromorphs scramble to take him down. Once the bomb is set, the Human team's role becomes one of protection, warding off the Necromorph attacks on the bomb for the 30 seconds it takes to count down to detonation. Meanwhile, in 'Escape', the Human team must evacuate the reddish insides of the Ishimura spaceship from the first game by activating switches in sequence before belting towards the escape pods.
When playing as the Necromorphs, your job is simply to prevent the human team from achieving any of their five sequential objectives in each stage. There are four different types of Necromorph: the Pack, which has a short-ranged, powerful melee attack; the Lurker, a crab-like creature that can jump on to opponents and whip out tentacles to damage Humans at range; the Puker, which has a short range, Left4Dead-style acidic projectile; and the Spitter, which enjoys long-range charged fire.