Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
After The Disappointment of the Resident Evil 4 conversion to PC, it seems Japanese games giant Capcom are determined to set things straight with the forthcoming release of frozen sci-fi third-person shooter Lost Planet: Extreme Condition. It promises major graphics improvements over the already-impressive Xbox 360 version, including higher-res icy textures and even more gorgeous lighting, and Lost Planet will also include mouse control and a lobby system for multiplayer designed especially for PC. It also includes massive deadly mechs you can climb into and blast Starship Troopers-style alien bugs with the biggest, most spectacular explosions this side of a 19-inch widescreen monitor. Oh, and a hero called Wayne...
Ice To See You
Lost Planet is set on a sub-zero world called EDN III, where all the buildings are half-buried in snow. Keep an eye on your vital kill-fuelled Thermal Energy. If it drops to zero, hero Wayne dies.
Multiplayer is being tailored for PC, so consolitis will hopefully be avoided in its game types of Elimination, Team Elimination, Post Grab (the capturing of reinforcement posts) and Fugitive.
Wayne Holden is the amnesiac hero trying to find an Akrid creature called the Green Eye that topped his dad. Along with a team of Snow Pirates called Rick, Luka (love interest) and Yuri, a conspiracy unravels (gasp!). Violence ensues.
Feast For The Ice
Lost Planet already has smooth mo-cap animation, beautiful HDR lighting, motion blur, atmospheric arctic environments and Hollywopd-standard fiery explosions. The PC version is prettier still.
Shortcrust Or Filo?
Your frozen world is overrun with insect-like creatures known as the Akrid, including flying arachnids that dive-bomb you from above to armoured beetles that curl up and roll you over like pastry.
You can only carry two weapons, but Wayne has access to more than a dozen including shotguns, machine guns, sniper rifles, a grappling hook and a multitude of explosive devices to see off bugs and rival Snow Pirates alike.
Mech Love Not War
Wayne has access to six types of Vital Suits ('great big mechs' to the rest of us). Once inside a VS, you can jump large distances, transform into a tank or just hover and stomp about riddling enemies with Gatling gun bullets, missiles and the like.
Download Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
Ost Planet Has rockets, and it also has science. But I don't think I'll be offending anyone at Capconi by suggesting that it's as far from rocket science as... Media studies. It's level after level of rampant insecticide, with very little in the way of diversion. Sure, there are a few humans knocking about, but in essence they're just smaller, less visually impressive things to kill.
You're Wayne. Hi. You've just watched your father get crushed by some green-eyed swine in the intro level. The Green Eye's one of the bigger Akrid insect-type creatures on the ice world. Anyone who's seen Van Damme in Kickboxer will know that revenge is a dangerous motive, but you don't care. You're dead-set on killing the chitinous prick that belly-flopped your pa. And that goes for any other Akrids - a race cursed by having evolved brightly glowing weak spots.
Clearly delineated targets aren't the only convenient thing about the Akrid - they also contain shiny red globules of Thermal Energy (T-ENG), and you need that to survive. Your T-ENG meter is a combination of medi-kit, battery and oxygen meter; it's constantly dwindling, and drops faster when you use energy weapons or take damage - and when it reaches zero, you start dying. At this point you'll need to kill something or activate the waypoint beacons. Therein, Capcom hopes, lies a Gauntlet-esque sense of compelling urgency and drama.
The point, in terms of the gameplay, is that 'collecting stuff' isn't just optional fluff for completist types - you're hoovering up blood (heat sorry) in order to survive. The potential urgency is dulled by the fact that there are plenty of fuel tanks, waypoints and respawning fodder monsters knocking about which only take one or two shots to kill, and don't pose much threat You're normally only ever one bullet hose away from a refill.
Then there are the Vital Suits, designed by desperate humans to fight the Akrid. These mechanical exoskeletons have different powers. Some have double weapons, some can double-jump, and some can hover like... Well, like you're in Mario Sunshine. Clunking and whirring about is cool - especially trampling the fragile flesh of other humans -but they're a little slow to respond, and they do tend to blow up quickly, even taking my shitness into account.
Dumb As An Egg
Lost Planet does a great job of throwing you into the action and hurling big monsters and daft bosses at you, but at its soul, it's a very basic game. It's a quickly felt cycle of onslaught, boss, cut-scene and repeat Distracting you from this are the explosions, which are massive and constant. Then there are the set-piece enemies, who are bigger and just as constant It's quite possible to suspend that accursed analytical brain for a while and just enjoy yourself. For how long depends on how easily pleased you are.
On the platforming levels - where you generally have to get to the top of something - it's down to you and your grappling hook. These will give you a crippling Anti-Persian Syndrome. That is, you'll feel like the most ham-legged, dundering clod ever to fall off the same ledge three times. Getting knocked about by rockets, bombs and the vibrations from overhead moths (fact!) is fun in a Die Hard kind of way, but you do end up feeling a little bit pissed. Even the Vital Suits are pretty frail, and while they're fun to fanny about in, there's a slight reluctance to obey your commands that can really leave you feeling cheated in a boss battle.
Take your revenge fight with Green Eye - it's a medium-length battle with three stages, and it's a frigging pain when you're getting crushed against the wall by a massive carapace, with spears of ice slamming into your dad's Vital Suit, and the camera won't snap out of its involuntary neck-breaking aerial view. Actually, it could very well have changed angle, but you can't see shit for the relentless explosions. It's impressive, exciting and pretty satisfying to dispatch the patricidal arthropod. But it's also inelegant unresponsive and frustrating.
At one point, I restartednthe Green Eye level from the beginning rather than the waypoint and I was faced with an already-fought corridor of pirates. Annoyed,bI decided to run through the entire level, and was a little surprised to find that I made it through, without any serious damage or game penalty.
Why did I bother the first time? It certainly wasn't to collect the hidden coins, which are the only 'bonus' items in the game. Even Capcom's traditional ranking system is missing - there's no S rank to strive for, and no experience to spend on bionic ankles. It boils down to that basic criticism again; this is pretty much an amiable, mindless shooter, with a fairly lip-flubbing storyline to push things along.
Wye Aye The AI
The Al is... Passable - certainly as intelligent as someone who's just smugly written the phrase "patricidal arthropod" in an attempt to sound educated - but it does have some suicidally dumb moments. In the first level, your colleagues run motionlessly into walls, and several enemies remained inactive in later levels until I'd shot them three times. "Ow! What was that? Ow! Is that what I think... Ow! Yes, it is -someone's shooting me! The bastard nerve of it!"
Additionally - and this might not be a deal-breaker for most people -I do have an expectation that if a guy is wearing gas cylinders on his back, I should be able to shoot said gas cylinders. And when I do that, he should say "Oooh, shit!", jump out of a window, put his hands over his crotch or something and then explode. Doesn't happen here. Twenty points off the final score.
I'm being harsh, I'll admit, but having played and enjoyed the 360 version on a happy, mindless level - it would have scored around 74 - the PC port seems to be lacking. My DX9 PC far exceeded the stated requirements, yet apart from a super-rapid spinning icon on the menus, the game itself chugged unhappily along at between 15-25fps, and suffered at busier times. Get Vista? Not for this game I won't.
Finally, Lost Planet isn't designed to be played with mouse and keyboard. You can do it, but nudging the mouse a fraction equates to a clumsy nudge on a thumbstick, making precise aiming impossible. To rub it in, there's no mousesensitivity slider, and when you do play with a 360 controller, there's no option to invert the Y axis. If this is the future of Vista gaming - console gaming in a swivel chair - then Forgoing to fold my arms and frown. I'm sounding like I didn't enjoy ost Planet, then I'm sorry. I can definitely say I was entertained, and there's a fair chunk of fun to be wrung from the sponge - even with the limited multiplayer modes. In the end though, it's just a good - not brilliant - inelegant PC port.
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.
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.