I don’t know why but I’m extremely weary of Capcom games. Sure they’re innovative, have superb art direction and are challenging, but more often than not you will come across a boss fight (or boss fights) in nearly every of their games that’ll make you tear your hair out or even break your controller/game disc in frustration. Their previous next gen outing, Dead Rising was entertaining for a while (who doesn’t enjoy slaughtering hordes of the undead) but unfortunately it was also plagued by some of the most anal boss fights I’ve encountered in a long time, so even though I enjoyed the single player demo of Lost Planet, I approached this game with utmost caution. Part of my inhibition was caused by Dead Rising, but part of it was because I constantly felt Lost Planet would end up getting monotonous pretty soon. Luckily all my inhibitions have been put to rest (although it does have annoying boss fights nevertheless) and the game has bypassed my expectations by leaps and bounds.
We’ve already carried a hands-on preview of the game a while back but here’s a slight flashback to jog your memory …
Humans have begun colonizing other planets and one such planet they’ve set their sights on, called EDN III, just happens to be a frozen tundra of a planet that’s crawling with unfriendly creatures called the Akrid who don’t seem to be too fond of humans. Luckily these Akrid seem to store some sort of thermal energy in their bodies that proves to be extremely useful to humans who now have a reason to fight back.
Since the menacing Akrid are too tough to battle with conventional weapons, humans develop Mechs called Vital Suits that help them turn the tides in their favor to a certain extent. But what’s this, Akrid aren’t the only pain in the ass; you even have a bunch of renegade outlaws called the Snow Pirates who like making life tough for everyone.
Amidst all this is Wayne, a VS pilot whose father gets brutally murdered in front of his very own eyes by a gigantic Akrid called the Green Eye. Unfortunately that whole encounter has left him with temporary amnesia and he can’t remember much of his life but one thing’s for sure... some Akrid gonna get a hurt bad.
While the story may sound like your staple sci-fi fare with a dash of revenge thrown in, it actually does get pretty weird (and not to mention boring) after a while but the cut scenes look so goddamn gorgeous you’ll probably just let them play out to soak up every ounce of HD goodness the game has to offer.
Lost Planet plays out like your standard third person fare, only the controls take a while to get used too as the cross-hair isn’t static like in most shooters. The lead character, Wayne has been fitted with a weird device of sorts that’s fueled by thermal energy 24/7 and as and when he steps outdoors this device uses that energy to keep him warm (this place isn’t exactly Hawaii ya know). This means you have to ensure a steady supply of thermal energy outdoors or his energy bar will continue depleting thanks to the extreme cold and once it fully diminishes, his health bar starts taking a hit. Introducing this kind of a mechanic does create a sense of urgency at all times but on the flip side it also limits exploration, but then again, this game is pretty linear so there isn’t much to worry about. And don’t worry, gathering thermal energy isn’t much of a problem as you can obtain it from killing Akrid and Snow Pirates, breaking random objects like frozen cars or activating outposts (by frantically pressing the B button) that’ll bless you with a certain amount of thermal energy and double up as save points (Lost Planet – 1, Dead Rising – 0).
Single player missions in this game are essentially divided into Akrid and Snow Pirate encounters so one level will have you infiltrating a Pirate camp eliminating every Pirate in site while the other may have you clearing out an Akrid hive (this kind of alternating keeps things from getting monotonous). The Akrid, who by the way are the real stars of the show come in different shapes and sizes; some are small, some are large while some are as big as the colossi from Shadow of the Colossus (only here they’re a lot more detailed) but each and every Akrid no matter how big or small have a weak point highlighted in orange as an indicative of where their thermal energy is hidden. Once you start blasting away at that part it’s a matter of minutes before even the larger ones die and turn to ice and believe me, there’s nothing as satisfying as smashing one of those frozen bodies with the butt of your weapon watching it shatter into a thousand pieces. The Akrid boast of a healthy variety as well so you have everything from flying fish like creatures (really annoying), to giant worms, giant moths, giant bees and lots lots more and even though boss encounters (yup, there’s a lot of them in this game) may not be as cinematic as the ones from Shadow of the Colossus or as innovative as the ones from God of War, it’s still a satisfying experience and definitely beats the brain dead bosses of Crackdown.
Like I mentioned earlier the larger Akrid can be a bitch to kill so you’ll have access to tons of Vital Suits throughout the game. However, there will be certain areas that won’t be accessible by mech and at times like these you can rip out the machine gun strapped onto its side and blast the crap out of everything a la John Rambo and feel like a total badass.
The human encounters on the other hand aren’t all that hot (no pun intended here) as the AI fuelling these pirates is pretty stupid (most of them will just stand around while you kill their team mates in front of their very own eyes) and after a spectacular battle with a giant moth atop a beautiful mountain, these skirmishes are a bit of a letdown.
There is a certain amount of platforming present in this game as well that’s executed with the help of your grappling hook which when activated can propel you to greater heights in a matter of seconds (just make sure that the cursor has turned green or the hook won’t attach itself on that surface).
I’ve come across many people who think this game doesn’t look all that good and I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re either blind or are playing this game on a standard definition TV. The Akrid look highly detailed and when confronted by the gigantic ones, you will stare at them in awe for a couple of minutes since they’re so intricately detailed. This game has probably the best snow effect I’ve seen in any game as every step taken by Wayne or anything for that matter will cause the snow to react in a most realistic manner. On the flip side, one thing that could have been worked upon is in-game explosions which end up looking pretty lame as compared to the mind boggling visuals on screen.
Even though I did not get to spend a whole lot of time with the game’s multiplayer, one thing’s for sure; you won’t be playing this game for a long time. For starters, there’s no co-op mode (for shame Capcom) and you have your basic Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and their version of capture the flag called Post Grab (that has you capturing all enemy outposts), but all of these don’t have the power to keep you hooked on for a long time and you’ll probably get back to Gears or Vegas pretty soon.
In the end Lost Planet is a solid game and unlike Dead Rising (yeah! so I didn’t like the game; sue me) is well worth the price tag since it’s got a little bit of every thing... mech combat included. The game’s fast paced and ensures things don’t get too monotonous and even though it can’t be called a system seller, it’s still crazy entertaining to blast the crap out of giant bugs in high definition.
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