Seth Walker isn't the only one in Space Siege having fun. On board the other surviving colony ship, the Tachibana, up to four players can join together to eliminate the Kerak menace and save what remains of humanity after the Kerak rudely destroyed Earth. After playing through the single-player portion of Gas Powered Games' upcoming dungeon-crawler-in-space, we jumped into this multiplayer mode to get our action role-playing game fix.
Multiplayer isn't a separate campaign, really, but rather a series of battles that act more like a challenge mode. You begin by creating a character in a large cargo hold inside the Tachibana, distributing your skill points, selecting cybernetic implants, and upgrading your weaponry. Although Seth Walker starts out with nothing more than a machine gun and a can-do attitude in the single-player mode, you have full access to upgrades in multiplayer. Gas Powered Games likens it to starting out in World of Warcraft as a level 70 character.
Of course, many of the most potent combat and engineering upgrades are tethered to cybernetic implants, the crux of the single-player game. It all starts with a simple cybernetic eye, and then it's a slippery slope to the point where you transform your character into mechanical war machine with cybernetic legs, arms, torso, and even a brain. In the single-player game, the people will react to your deformed appearance if you choose to sacrifice your own humanity to save the human race; you'll even hear screams as you install your implants. Staying completely human does have a few rewards, such as 50 percent damage reduction as a discipline bonus. But in the challenge mode that is multiplayer, cybernetic implants certainly make the game easier.
Once you've outfitted yourself with implants, distributed skill points, and traded in parts to upgrade a few weapons (sonic blaster, rocket launcher, and laser rifle, to name a few), it's time to hit the Tachibana's tram system and take on one of the 15 missions that will see you regain control of the ship. Regardless of whether you're rebooting life support systems, disabling the engine, or eliminating the Kerak leader, each mission basically tasks you with killing a bunch of Kerak.
To do so, you use the typical point-and-click controls found in past action RPGs from Gas Powered Games, such as Dungeon Siege. Things are a bit more action-oriented, given that you have an evade key that activates a slick roll move to help you dodge incoming fire. A major concern is that you can't fire and run at the same time. Battles quickly become frustrating as you aim your cursor at an enemy and right click to fire, then have to move the cursor again and left click to move, and then right click again to fire. Considering that the game plays like a basic third-person-shooter, support for a gamepad would have greatly benefited players hoping to strafe while cutting down Kerak. Of course, the strength of Space Siege is mostly found in the story and your cybernetic-upgrade decisions, but those elements are mostly absent from multiplayer modes. One thing that isn't absent is challenge. Getting through a battle alive with your friends is a rewarding experience, no matter what percentage human you are.