Capcom has previously delivered truckloads in the fun department with their acclaimed Dead Rising, and tempted gamers around the world with the Xbox Live demo of Lost Planet, which demonstrated some key concepts of the title; those being a frozen wasteland not unlike Hoth but teaming with life in the form of Akrid (insect like beasts with puddles of thermal energy within them) and snow pirates.
Apparently in the future mankind can no longer be supported by only mother Earth, and venturing to outlying lands is the only way to survive. After arriving on this Lost Planet, the humans came face to face with the natives, the Starship Troopers inspired bugs who thrive in the barren and snow blown landscape. Because the land is so cold, the human population has adapted by wearing bio-suits which seep thermal energy into their bodies via canteen type pods attached to their hips. But when things get really out of hand they can hop into machines called Vital Suits (VS) which are not unlike mechs from other titles that deal in the human operated machines of mass destruction. Even with the massive VS to help sway the war against the Akrid, mankind suffered a setback when Gale, father of the hero of the title Wayne whose name is even less inspiring than Dead Rising’s hero Frank, is killed by a massive beast dubbed Green Eye.
Flash forward thirty years and Wayne is found alive, but in suspended animation thanks to the blistering cold by a small group of warriors. By law, at least one new videogame release per month must include a main character that has amnesia, and thankfully Lost Planet helps fill that quota. He soon enters into the battle to rid the planet of the Akrid and secure as much thermal energy as possible. However a group called NEVEC is also on the planet, looking to terra-form the world into something a lot more hospitable. Multiple twists and red herrings are flung about in the story that helps drive things forward, but sadly the story isn’t quite the big draw to this title, as it merely just exists.
So how does the game play? Well, the first thing you’ll notice is that the player seems to move at a snail’s pace, and while it is a little annoying at first, shortly after your first Akrid encounter the controls seem to fit in quite naturally. It’s reasonable that Wayne plods through the waist deep snow at a near crawl, but when he’s out of the elements the speed doesn’t change much. Even the massive VSs are quite slow-moving, so those expecting the twitch-style gameplay offered by titles like MechAssault will be a little disappointed. There are a few slight tweaks that you can make to the aiming mechanism of your reticule, either leaving it stationary in the middle of the screen which causes Wayne to move all the time, or have a small window of movement where the cursor can be adjusted with Wayne only aiming the gun.
Other than the standard shooter fair, Lost Planet ups the ante by including a grappling hook which allows you not only to climb and propel yourself forward, but to rappel down holes and tunnels and even hang from items to claim the prime sniper position. In the single-player mode I found that I only used the grappling hook when absolutely necessary, but in multiplayer it becomes essential for making the quick hit then flee to avoid being tagged by another player. Unlike other mech games where you can enter and leave your machine at will, Lost Planet allows you to take the mech weapons along with you. Keep in mind they are very heavy and will slow you down even further, but it’s quite a site to see a player trudging though the snow with a giant rocket launcher.
At the risk of potential spoilers, I still want to make a comment on the final battle in the game; it didn’t seem anything like the rest of the game. Had someone walked in who actually knew about Lost Planet and saw the final battle, they’d be both very lucky and going way out on a limb to guess the correct title. This is by far the most disappointing aspect of the title, because rather than cap the excitement and enjoyment of the previous six hours, I was frustrated and shocked that the game turned out the way it did. But I could be in the minority on this feeling; others may feel that it fit the game perfectly.
The multiplayer aspect of Lost Planet is a fairly solid entry into the Xbox Live arena and features slight variations on what we’ve all become accustomed to. Both team and individual elimination modes exist, as well as a Fugitive mode and Post Grab. Fugitive pits one player against up to 15 others in a kill or be killed match, while Post Grab is a modified king of the hill mode where the specific data posts around the field need to be in control of your team. All the modes share one commonality however, that is all matches can be completed by not necessarily performing the specific duties, but by building your teams (or individual) battle gauge to a pre-determined level. This does expose some flaws however, especially in the fugitive or individual elimination modes. If the host starts the title with relatively few players in the game and has selected a large map, then it is conceivable to fill your battle gauge long before encountering your opponent. How this is a flaw is that in ranked matches, players earn levels for performing well; and if the host has the advantage as in Fugitive mode, he or she can quickly rank up their profile. Thankfully no additional skills are awarded for this, but new character skins and a single achievement is awarded for obtaining a high level.
Graphically I was both impressed and a little disappointed in Lost Planet, but the disappointment passed thanks to the enjoyable, but quite short single player action. Seeing as the game takes place on a frozen landscape there really wasn’t much in terms of scenery while playing. Sure it was nice to see blowing snow and the footprints use great particle effects to show the disturbance of the snow, but it was still a lot of white with some rocks scattered around. When the game did move into a dilapidated town however the artists turned on the talent a little more. I will say though that the smoke effects in this game are some of the best I’ve seen in any video game to date. I uttered audible gasps on more than one occasion when explosions filled the screen with smoke, and even louder groans when giant Akrid became poked their gargantuan heads through the wall of black. The voice acting, while slightly cheesy fit well with the Sci-fi feel of the title, even though some of the dialog seemed a little out of place. Other than that the audio presentation was spot on, music brought tension when required and the room shaking explosions were plentiful, thanks to the abundance of explosive barrels in the title.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition made for a quite enjoyable single-player experience, thanks to some massive enemies and outrageous firefights with not only Akrid, but snow pirates as well. The entertaining multiplayer, while it does have its quirks, is a very entertaining time if you can get into a good room with people who choose not to spawn camp and play as a team. The game does feature four levels of difficulty, and while I played on the “normal” setting, there was a hard and once the game was completed an extreme difficulty was unlocked. Players who choose to take on extreme have a very tough time ahead of them, but seeing as the game is quite entertaining I am sure that some will head back for more. The duration of the game and the disappointing finale does knock the title down a couple grades, but the online aspect is quite enjoyable and keeps the game as a very solid recommendation.
- Overall: 7
- The single-player game is short, plodding and has a poor story, but the online options keep you coming back for more.
— Jeff Paramchuck