Lost Planet 2
|a game by||Capcom|
|Platforms:||XBox 360, PC, Playstation 3|
|User Rating:||9.3/10 - 3 votes|
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|See also:||Lost Planet, Third-Person Shooter|
The Time It took for my co-op buddy and I to wrap our feeble minds around what was happening during Lost Planet 2 prologue was embarrassingly lengthy.
I was bleating about mounted guns and flying enemies and he claimed to be piloting the vehicle, which on my screen was a drop ship whistling through a canyon. Unless he'd suddenly transmogrified into Chuck Norris, this scenario seemed unlikely. I was starting to wonder if I'd joined the wrong multiplayer session.
We did eventually realise that Lost Planet 2 does something that, for some reason, isn't commonplace in co-op games: it starts with two teams of players doing entirely different things, and they only reconvene after their own particular prologue. There's no threat of death, and everything synchronises perfectly, including cutscenes, with a neat boss battle rendezvous at the end. After that, you're bundled together and whisked off to a jungle environment for the initial mission proper.
And then things seem to get immeasurably less interesting. Lost Planet 2 is, like its predecessor, an extremely straightforward shooter. The visuals are dense, but not particularly pretty, the characters are still disproportionately squat and the combat consists of unloading as much of your ammunition into glowing orange bits of giant insects or the fleshy melons of human pirates. You also spend an awful lot of your time hammering a button to open up data posts which act as respawn points.
At the very least Lost Planet 2 retains its ridiculous scale, you'll be battling enormous Akrid throughout the campaign, and it's difficult not to be impressed as you attempt to wrangle an insect that's four storeys high. In one sequence, you're on a train speeding across a vast desert like on a Dune sandworm - there aren't many shooters that are this hat stand and if you can rope three mates in, you'll be thankful for the added firepower.
Unfortunately, because the game is so clearly weighted towards co-op, Capcom has felt the need to balance the difficulty for larger teams. The Battle Gauge is a shared collection of points which are diminished every time a character is killed and crucially, it isn't replenished after you've spend 15 minutes plugging away at an enormous Daddy Long Legs.
Respawns from local data posts are unlimited as long as your Battle Gauge still has juice, but woe betide any team that runs out of points. The punishment for allowing it to drop completely to zero is the gaming equivalent of a rap across the arse cheeks with a metre ruler - you and your co-op buddies are dumped in the lobby and politely asked to start the entire chapter again, no matter how close to completion you were. Thanks, but we suspect most players would rather dip their unmentionables in a bubbling chip pan than start a lengthy chapter from the beginning.
There is a degree of old-school charm about no-nonsense shooting and oversized bosses, and the game will reward obsessive play with a series of unlocks that hoarders will adore. There are side objectives to be completed as well, such as grappling and riding an Akrid, which give you credits to spend on a fruit machine that spits out emotes, attire and weapons.
Sadly from what we've played it seems that the majority of the joy is harpooned through the spine by a series of, presumably Japan-centric, design decisions and a largely irrelevant plot. Aside from the single player mode, there's a competitive multiplayer arena mode, which allows you to mash your buddies in a selection of mech and power armour flavoured Vital Suits, but it's hardly going to rip you away from the established names in multiplayer gunplay.
The time we've spent playing Lost Planet 2 hasn't inspired us to tattoo the game's name across our moobs and dance naked through the nearest shopping centre singing its praises. There will probably be a few masochists who become enamoured with its quirks, but given the wide selection of excellent shooters on the PC we reckon this is going to hit the shelves with all the impact of a wet paper towel.
Let's Play Dress Up
Unlocks aren't all po-faced weapons and armour
In a refreshing change from most lead-heavy games, Capconi appears to have a sense of humour about the items you earn during play. Arguably the coolest addition is Albert Wesker, regular antagonist in the Resident Evil series. The Xbox 360 version also contains two of Gears of Wads burly rugby rejects, though whether they'll make it to the PC version remains to be seen.
The most ludicrous unlocks are the emotes, though, a series of campy celebratory animations that can be triggered at any time. Watching Wesker mincing around like a loon is entertaining, particularly when he's about to be flattened by a giant Akrid claw. Simple pleasures.