Carver's personal hell is invisible to Issac.
Story progress is saved for both characters. If you're just starting out you can jump into a buddy's Chapter 10 game, if you want. When you continue your individual game you'll be able to load your own uninterrupted campaign or load up your advanced save file. It's up to you. Each player keeps their own valuable inventory at the end of a co-op session. Players will receive their own ammo, health, stasis, and resource drops. Important items, like weapon parts and artifacts, are credited to both players no matter who picks them up.
The host player will take the roll of Clarke, the guest will play as Carver. There is no difference in how the characters play, but there are a few missions that can only be accessed through coop mode. These side missions offer more back story on Carver, and your experience will differ greatly depending on which character you play as. I played through an early mission as Carver, and it was creepy. I played through the rest as Issac, and having my co-op partner describe to me what was happening was even creepier. Carver sees things that Isaac can't. I wish there were more missions like these. If you want more of the blood and guts of the co-op details I suggest checking out our Dead Space 3 Co-Op FAQ.
The pair of Clarke and Carver is a formidable team. I was able to easily dispatch any Necromorphs I came across while playing solo, and two players will absolutely wreak havoc on the pathetic enemies. I highly recommend playing on higher difficulties if you plan to play cooperatively, as the game doesn't seem to scale the enemy count for a second player, with the exception of a few specific occasions. Once you take away the element of surprise, which basically entails covering each other's backs, there isn't much of a challenge. On normal mode enemies drop far more ammo than it takes to actually kill them. They're like gorey, pointy pinatas. Once I made a rocket launcher that wouldn't blow my own face off, I didn't have to worry myself with things like tactics, or strategy, or aiming.
The weapon crafting system is wonderful. Shotgun laser hammers for everyone!
When faced with puny human enemies I felt completely overpowered. Catching an enemy rocket with Clarke's telekinesis ability and then sending it right back at them is sweetly satisfying. Let me say that again: Issac Clarke can pluck enemy grenades and rockets out of the air and then fire them back at the bad guys with near pinpoint accuracy. I don't think I've ever played a game before where I hope the next platoon of enemies has a few extra guys with rocket launchers. Oh, and there's a new cover system, but it's not really necessary.
While playing co-op, players will be tethered together in the same room, so you can't go off in different directions to complete multiple objectives. That's okay. The small confines of some of the areas lend themselves to vicious melee attacks and boot stomping parties. There's no friendly fire, which is a good thing, since the weapon crafting system allows players to make ridiculous tools of war.
The new and improved weapon crafting system is a great addition to the Dead Space franchise, but it also marks the series' move from a horror staple to a more action-oriented title. I could make a plasma cutter pistol withe a ripper blade attachment. Or I could make a fully automatic assault rifle with an underbarrel shotgun that does acid damage over time and automatically picks up any surrounding ammo. There are an astounding amount of options, allowing to kit your player out as the Necromorph exterminator you want to be. You can make a melee specialist who uses hydraulic hammers, or a support character who can heal and replenish stasis for your co-op partner. The choice is yours.
The Dead Space 3 Video Co-Op Review. Thanks to Locke Vincent
These weapons can't be passed between characters, but you can share your custom blueprints with each other. Tools of destruction can be made with the resources found in the game, which are fairly plentiful. Your little scavenger bots will also gather resources for you, including ration cards. These ration cards can be used to buy actual DLC supply packs, which is pretty cool. You could shell out real money, but why bother?
There are a few flaws in the game. At times certain prompts for switches and puzzles wouldn't activate correctly, forcing us to reposition ourselves. At times I had no idea where I would end up when I restarted a checkpoint to allow a co-op player to join my game. I could lose one minute, or twenty. I also found quite a few enemy "trigger points," which means if I retreated a few paces the enemies would stop pursuing me and run back and hide behind cover. Then they would shamble out again as I approached, then quickly turn and run again if I took a step back. It was kind of hilarious. This gave the impression that the horrific monsters were actors wearing rubber suits, trying to take their marks before I called "Action!" When I would get tired of this I'd simply feed them a rocket and be on my way.
Dead Space 3 is a very good single player title, and an equally good co-op title. Horror fans can scale the difficulty to make it more of a challenge, but people who just want to enjoy the ride with a friend will have a good time, as well. Some technical issues, both in the single player and co-op, hold it back a bit. While the early space-faring levels are really enjoyable, the planet-bound second half of the game becomes a little tedious. Still, Dead Space 3 is a welcome addition to the series and another interesting chapter in life of a rather unlucky space engineer.
This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
The Co-Op Experience: Play through the entire campaign as either Issac Clarke or John Carver in two player online, drop-in/drop-out co-op.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.