Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
|Editor Rating:||7.8/10, based on 2 reviews|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Fighting a myriad of butt-ugly bugs may be tough, but try fending them off while also enduring sub-zero temperatures. Not so cool, huh? Well, in Lost Planet, you're not only battling insects, but also the weather--your life drops with the degrees, leaving you with just one option: exterminate enemies and use their energy as temporary heat pacle.
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As one face among many, you work your way through darkened hallways, automatic gun at the ready. After blowing open a door, you and your crew rappel down to a larger hangar. Immediately, a bus-sized, buglike creature rolls toward you as you leap out of the way and open fire. The beast loses its fight--and life--and turns to ice: It shatters as you put one final bullet into it. The next room has far less imposing enemies--flying, sleek-looking creatures with flagellalike appendages lining their bodies. Though numerous, they go down easily. But the relative breather is shortlived. A gigantic, multilegged, horned grub of an alien--dwarfing that first pest--bursts through a wall and commences a devastating attack, wiping out most of your compatriots with one gust of its breath, which freezes and shatters them. It's all you can do to run and pray. Lost Planet starts at a gallop, as any good action-shooter should, and it keeps the upbeat pace going for a few more levels. Trudging through knee-deep snow and swapping through a standard arsenal of weapons, you take out scores of the insectlike alien Akrid. And despite the main character's methodical pace, Lost Planet manages to nail a nimble feel--for the most part. With the default control setup, tapping the controller's left and right bumper buttons quick-spins you 90 degrees in the corresponding direction, which isn't intuitive but is useful when you get the hang of it. Also, a handy grappling hook keeps things moving vertically (though support for midair grappling would've sated our tingling Spidey sense). Quick feet are necessary, since the action has a very arcadey slant to it: Smaller critters pour out of generators, and all the Akrid have glowing weak spots for optimal shooting, sometimes in multiple parts, allowing you to blow off some of a creature's far-too-numerous legs. And graphically, the game's a stunner (at least in high-def--standard-def has more whiteout conditions). The backdrops consist of crumbling ruins, dilapidated warehouses, twisting caverns, and crisp, snowy landscapes--you're truly navigating a hostile yet beautiful land. For a while, Lost Planet completely satisfies. Similar to smashing zombie heads in Capcom's Dead Rising, squishing alien bugs proves undeniably enjoyable. But partway through the adventure, the momentum wavers, taking some of the game's charm with it. In addition to fighting Akrid, you start tackling snow pirates and an evil corporation. While simple A.I. is understandable in the alien creatures, it's just embarrassing in the humans, who regularly don't react to soldiers being picked off next to them nor generally seem to care much for their well-being, given their mindless tactics. When you're stuck facing just these jokers, Lost Planet feels like a totally generic shooter at best. But the big change comes with the vital suits scattered about the land. These suits, made specifically to eradicate Akrids (as explained in the overwrought story), are essentially mechs, with interchangeable guns (which you can wield on foot...a nice touch) and different abilities depending on the model. They cover the typical spectrum, from quick and long-jumping bipeds to tanklike mobile drillers. In limited quantities, taking control of these machines can be quite fun--kind of like the vehicle segments of PS3 first-person shooter Resistance. You feel a rush of power as you dominate smaller enemies and handily dispatch with midsized ones. But as the game shifts into mech-heavy stages, the luster fades into plodding labor, especially as the Akrids thin out and you're stuck fighting other mechs (for you non-mechheads out there who feel betrayed, be thankful you don't have to deal with Armored Core-level robo-tweaking). Particularly painful: Whether on foot or in a mech, get hit by a powerful enough shot and you go into an uncontrollable stumble animation that lasts too long. Worse, some enemies prey on this, timing shots to hit as soon as you regain control. Forgettable multiplayer (four generic modes...really?) and impressive yet usually easy-to-exploit boss fights, which the other reviewers have plenty to say about, don't help the cause. Sleek graphics and a fast start can't mask what's an entertaining but ultimately disposable diversion.
Greg, I think you need to judge Lost Planet for what it really is: an overgrown arcade game. Bugs crawling out of monster generators, gigantic boss creatures with glowing weak points, weapons and power-ups scattered everywhere--on paper, it'd be easy to confuse Lost Planet with the old-school games that made Capcom famous two decades ago. But in person, it's undeniably state-of-the-art. Sit your ass in front of a nice television and sound system and Lost Planet will blow it right off with an audiovisual fireworks display only Gears of War can top. From its crumbling cities to dank, monster-packed caves to pulsing lava pools, this game looks and sounds amazing. Of course, if you melt away all this gorgeous icy frosting, you're left with a simple game about one thing: blowing stuff up. Sure, sometimes you might need to think, "What should I blow up first?" or "What's the best way to blow that up?" but that's about as in-depth as it gets. Lost Planet is more about dodging and survival than any grand strategy, more about reflexes than thinking. Maybe that's why I can forgive the fact that sometimes the enemies aren't thinking either, like when they stand idly by as I snipe their neighbors or when they blow me off my feet as soon as I get up, over and over. Because, really, it's hard to dwell on these things when the next minute I'm boosting my hulking mech 50 yards in the air, raining giant rockets and endless machine gun fire down on 18-wheeler-sized mutant insects and puny human foot soldiers. Whenever my complaints threatened to build up, a wave of adrenaline and gunfire washed them away. Likewise, competitive types may never get over the online game's unbalanced weapons and maps (the inevitable by-product of repurposing parts of single-player levels), limited modes (post grab and team elimination are the only two worth playing), and questionable spawning system. But don't come in expecting Halo--or even Gears of War--with multiplayer and you'll find enough to enjoy for a few days: mech versus on-foot battles, an interesting take on the grappling hook, and a unique postgrabbing mechanic, where you trade off the risk of staying in one place without a weapon with the reward of capturing the spot for your team and/ or extra health for yourself. The grenades alone--one of which sails like a Frisbee, another that's a decoy player and works as a booby trap--make it worth a try.
I clamor a lot for more style in games. On that count, Lost Planet delivers in a very next-gen way. Not just high-res for the sake of highres, it puts the 360's power to good use. With the wind howling all around through the surround sound, blowing snow obscuring my vision, and one of the best uses of the whiteout effect--simulating the experience as your eyes adjust to glare off the snow--I got completely drawn into this icy world. And while the star power of basing lead character Wayne on Korean actor Lee Byung-Hun may be lost on this side of the Pacific, its impact is not. This is a warrior you feel cool playing, which is critical in making the third-person style work. If only the story kept up. As Greg mentions, the scripting predictably declines into overwrought anime territory, with humanity as caught up in fighting itself as it is in survival on the inhospitable planet. But the bigger problem comes from the crimp put in the pacing by the emphasis on boss fights. Lost Planet hits its groove when you're in the thick of the adventure, working through the varied levels. On foot you use your rocket-propelled grappling hook to zip all around, looking for points with a tactical advantage and taking out enemies in all directions. In the mechs (yeah, vital suits--whatever) you tromp around, grabbing different weapons and blasting the hell out of everything. But this great adventuring gets treated as more of a prelude to the main events, and I had to keep reminding myself how much fun--and worth getting back to--it was every time I hit one of the boss fights. They come in two basic flavors. The human bosses offer mech-on-mech fights that amount to bouncing around and knocking down their health bar before they get yours--usually not too troublesome, but not too interesting, either. The real offenders are the Akrid. Being in an enclosed arena with a prehistoric-sized monster you shoot in a glowing weak spot feels tired the first time, much less the fourth. Greg dismisses multiplayer too quickly, though. True, you can find dozens of better games if you just want to play deathmatch, but in the team-based modes the strategic opportunities of mechs, foot soldiers, and foot soldiers wielding mech-sized weapons come into play. For anyone with Live, that should make up for the up-and-down ride of single player.
Gorgeous visuals, killing bugs
Uneven mech play, dumb enemy A.I.
A rocket launcher plus an alien in the wrong place
During our online playtesting of Lost Planet, we encountered a number of annoying quirks, notably getting booted back to the multiplayer menu when a match ends. Capcom has told us that an automatic update on day one (featuring fixes based on user feedback from the multiplayer demo) will address most of the problems. Among the changes, the developers have added a postgame lobby where players can rematch (though game options can't be changed), given the host the ability to reserve private slots for friends, and given players the ability to switch teams in team matches.