I recall seeing the first Lost Planet game at E3 and thinking, "Wow, this looks like a blast!"
Having played it the excitement soon shifted to disappointment thanks to sluggish controls, a confusing storyline and short gameplay. Fastforward a few years and here we are in 2010. Today Capcom released their sequel to a very lackluster original.
Is it good? Is it more of the same? Do we know what the **** is going on in this one?
Come find out.
Gameplay is the key to surviving Akrids
One of the more frustrating reasons I severely disliked the first Lost Planet was because it played like you were running through a large batch of syrup. Your solider was slow, turning around to fight the enemy was like watching a three-point turn from a Semi-truck; there were so many reasons controls bothered me that I can't think up enough analogies. Just to put it simply, they sucked.
That sort of movement was a big turn off. With Lost Planet 2 this bitter memory is long since gone. The character controls are much faster and more responsive than the first. Switching between weapons is nearly instantaneous. The overall movement and response time in the midst of combat is so much better than the original Lost Planet. Bring able to hook onto a ledge, immediately start firing your weapon or, better yet, hooking onto the bottom of a tall building and hanging there firing your weapon is damn nice. There is so much range of motion with your character, and quick motion at that, you'll simply forget all those bad memories of sluggishly running in the snow after someone or away from someone. Those days are over!
My only complaint with the motion, and more specifically the hook, is that you can't go 'Bionic Commando' on a range of buildings. You can't swing from ledge to ledge even when you have the proper motion to do so. That has to be added into Lost Planet 3. I can't tell you how many times I swung off a ledge in hopes of hooking onto another ledge only to be pushing the hook button to no avail. Is it a huge deal? Sorta. It would have increased the amount of skill that the game already gives you. You could do some pretty darn funky things with this option. Too bad it wasn't included.
Outside of movement, you still get a nice set of weapons to choose from in Lost Planet 2. You've got your standard machine gun, shotgun and missile launcher. More VS weapons are readily available at your disposal as well as a nice flamethrower, different types of handheld weapons (including the Turbo Express -- just kidding) and newly added VS that never made it in the first one. When you get online you'll find these readily available to you in the heat of battle.
Two particular VS that come to mind that are very impressive to control and neat to use, are the Akrid VS models and a three seater robotic VS. While you can pretty much guess what the first one is (metal Akrids) the latter of that sentence is pretty cool. It requires three soldiers to use it to the fullest extent. One soldier for each arm and one that controls the movement of the VS. It's a very powerful VS, especially if you can get everyone to cooperate using it.
For me, I think the wide variety of weapons adds so much depth to an already fun game. For an action game it's almost required to give this variety of weapons to the gamer; and Capcom doesn't disappoint. When I was at the Capcom event for the multiplayer session in San Mateo back in March, I was wowed (as were the people around me) at the amount of firepower available to the players in Lost Planet 2. It was truly a welcomed upgrade.
Now there is some slight confusion about the campaign/co-op mode versus the online mode. The campaign mode helps you prepare for online gameplay. It does its best to put together a more cohesive storyline than the first (and it succeeds with flying colors), but the levels and situations in the campaign/co-op mode are very reminiscent of online levels. For example, in the first chapter of the game you end up raiding a pirate mining facility. Once raided you have to turn on all the power beacons in the facility. Once those are on, you have to insure that the drilling mechanism that they pirates are using have to overheat. Once those overheat you have to make sure you can leave pretty easily. All of these steps reside in one central locaiton. You have waves and waves of enemies coming at you and you have to protect your interests. It's such a secluded environment with shooting holes in it that it screams 'this was made for online play'. There's nothing wrong with this, but it seems like Capcom's devs had online play on the brain and decided to build an arcing storyline through these locations. You'll see what I mean when you play; it stands out pretty well.
The use of these boards seems to hurt the story a bit, but surprisingly you still get a better story than the first (scary, isn't it?). The story seems to have some holes in it, but Capcom does their best to patch them up. They force the transition from place to place and it shows. Again, I still think the overall story is much better than the original.
Anyway, the online play is what is going to sweeten the deal with Lost Planet 2. It features a variety of levels, each 'huge' in its own way. The jungle level and the snow level are my two favorites. The snow level will look familiar to you because it's a portion of the first game. The jungle level is an enormous playground of hiding spots and large structures. For two teams, or even a huge deathmatch, traveling through this level there are plenty of places to hide or even just hold down and battle. There's so much going on with the online play that it's just becomes some serious fun. Here are the types of online modes:
- Tem Elimination
- Data Post Battle
- Akrid Egg Battle
- Battle Series
Some of these you will recognize and some of them you won't. The three that stand out unique to Lost Planet 2 is Data Post Battle, Akrid Egg Battle and Fugitive.
The Data Post Battle revolves around the activating of data posts by each team. There is a limited amount of time and the team that has the most activated by the end of the round wins. There are 5-6 data posts you must activate and each one can be re-activated by the other team. It's quite cool and very nerve racking, which makes it even better.
The Akrid Egg Battle is a simple 'capture the flag' type of game, but with an Akrid Egg and sort of in reverse. Don't worry this isn't Aliens. That sucker isn't going to hatch. It's a neat online game that is won by getting the most eggs for your team.
Finally, the Fugitive game is just like the movie by the same name. You against one person. Sounds easy, right? The one person is a bit harder to kill than you, so take that into account. You can have more than one fugitive, but it's always challenging with just one. You decide though, as you can customize the battles the way you want and expect.
There's a lot more to the online mode, but these are the finer points. The customization of the online mode of play is insane.
Much better looking
The big upgrade, outside of better gameplay, is how nice the game looks. What was being shown at E3 2009 last year was the great salamander battle on a very rainy portion of the planet. That was impressive with the coat of rain rolling off the shiny skin of the giant Akrid. The grass and hills in this particular stage were detailed so well that you swear you were getting muddy. This was just the beginning in terms of visuals.
When it begins, the game disguises itself with an old familiar element, snow. You will think this is just another shady way of Capcom getting away of creating actual depth and detailed visuals like in the first game. Soon you'll find yourself in a lush, detailed, planet ridden jungle that will make your jaw drop to the ground. The environments this time around are full of detail and enormous. Capcom and devs have upped the ante in terms of visuals of the environment and how they react to the battle around you. Leaves move, shadows move, the walls at a pirate fortress look worn; there's plenty of detail here to make you understand what Capcom has been doing for the last few months.
The environments are gorgeous.
Not to be second best, the character models of the soldiers, pirates, VS and even Akrids are just as impressive. The soldiers wear different outfits for different environments. Each outfit detailed to the bone and moves like its alive. When you jump off a ledge or cliff things on the uniform adjust to the gravity and physics. Yes, folks it's that detailed. Even more impressive are the VS, whch brim with mechanical awareness and parts. For every sound effect you hear as you get into a VS you'll find a part moving to correspond to that effect. It's as if a Veritech jet mated with a Battletech drone; there's so much detail here. All you mech-heads out there will be pleased with the new VS.
One aspect that Capcom is banking on for Lost Planet 2 to fly its flag high on is the enormous Akrids. They are bigger in this one and much harder to kill. For you lucky folks that saw the salamander Akrid from the multiplayer demo at E3, that's just the tip of the iceberg with what you get in the finished game. There are gigantic Akrids, each waiting to chew your team up and spit them out. Capcom came through on its promise and by the time you kill one of these gigantic beast you'll probably want to go sip a cold one in celebration.
Fun and long-lasting appeal
A pair of concerns with the first Lost Planet was the fun factor and longevity of the game. The first game was frustrating in so many areas. Getting knocked down by a VS constantly was no fun. Having to do ridiculous things like deal with emerging enemies out of nowhere was not much fun. Worst of all having a 5-6 hour length of gameplay certainly didn't feel rewarding at the end of the day. There was a lot to do, but not a lot to fun to be had in a short amount of time.
Thanks to online play, a better story and a neat/fun co-op mode there is a lot to be had here. If you count the campaign mode with the online mode then you're going to have 20-30 hours of fun here before you need a break. It all depends on your love and dedication to the game. For me, I could go back and complete this game again. There are loads of trophies to be had and there are better letter scores (you get scores at the end of each mission) to be had here. In other words, the game provides you with room for improvement that your pride will require you to go back and replay it again. This game is worth the $59.99, as you'll get every bit of that back in fun and online play.
Now, is the game perfect? No. It still has some flaws like the storyline, but damn it they improved it so much that you have to give them props for it. This game is good, despite what other bitter reviewers are telling you.
Check it out and send me hate mail if you think otherwise. In this reviewer's eyes, a pair that have seen the frustrating gameplay and lack of fun from the first Lost Planet, Capcom has done a complete 180 with this title.