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Lost Planet 2


Stuck in the past...
Following up on the popular, yet critically panned Lost Planet (our 2007 review), Capcom is attempting to capture the magic that had players clamoring over the title over 3 years ago. The original title was structured around the story of Wayne, a young man suffering from amnesia and thrown into an epic battle over the colonization on a frozen wasteland of a planet. Fast forward 10 years and we enter into the story of Lost Planet 2. Oddly, Capcom didnít think Wayne was charismatic enough to return as the main character. In fact, the story is somewhat disjointed as each level focuses on a different faction on the frozen planet (EDN III). Capcom didnít help with presenting this story progression either as itís extremely convoluted. Without any specific character to relate to, missions feel more arcade-like rather than part of a sweeping narrative.



If you are used to the style of gameplay in the original Lost Planet, you will be at home with third-person shooter design. The player will find themselves on a combination of vehicle and on-foot travel. The mission structure is relatively simple. You are directed through a fairly linear level fighting some nasty bugs or rival factions before reaching some of the biggest bosses you ever seen. One major issue, appearing too often from Japanese developers, is a serious lack of checkpoints. Many times, it almost feels like you have to complete an entire level to get a lousy save. If you get taken down at the end of a level, you get the privilege of replaying that last hour of your life on the same level.

Capcom sends three teammates with you on each level, a squad of sorts. Unfortunately, your squad members have had some sort of frontal lobotomy. Thatís not story related, simply how moronic that they were programmed by Capcom. I had countless deaths due to AI teammates that preferred to wander the snowy plains while pondering if my bloody corpse would attract more Akrid to their location.



In order to utilize the teammate system, you really have to bring real people in as teammates through the co-op system. With a group of intelligent people protecting each otherís backs, this is where the game really shines. It also provides much needed spawn points if your teammates are still alive. It also limits the total number of team respawns, a reason to play with competent gamers. Unfortunately, co-op doesnít allow you to jump into someone elseís campaign while itís happening (a glaring flaw for a game this late in the Xbox 360 life cycle). Since the levels are so long, itís tough to get a co-op game going. I found myself sitting in lobbies, more often than not, waiting for people to finish their level.

The control system is another example of poor game design. Itís similar to the first game, but feels more awkward and out-of-place in a market dominated by more competent shooters. The game forces you to stop moving to change out your weapon and has a painfully slow knockdown system. If you got used to the fluent grappling hook system in Just Cause 2, prepare to enter a time machine. The grappling hook canít be fired while airborne and it doesnít work on many landscape surfaces. Overall, player movement is based off a system thatís showing severe signs of age and lack of forward thinking on Capcomís part.

Similar to the first title, Lost Planet 2 really shines during multiplayer. Thereís plenty of fun to be had in Capture the Flag and deathmatch modes. The mechanical battle suits and vehicles also get top billing in multiplayer. My favorite matches were within the faction mode that allowed you to compete against other factions in a Risk-like game; specifically to eliminate the competition. Those who found value in the multiplayer modes of the first title will also find enjoyment here.



Finally, both the campaign and the multiplayer modes tie into a character building system thatís peppered with light RPG elements. Capcom did a poor job of explaining how it works or showing how much experience allows you to open up new weapons and custom clothing. All the rewards are also assigned randomly through a Vegas style slot machine that makes you gamble your experience in exchange for goodies. Regarding achievements in the 360 version, itís your standard set. The only standouts are career oriented achievements that would require an extensive amount of time to complete all of them.

Graphics

  • The game design is undeniably gorgeous. I wasnít impressed with the visual prowess of the first title, but the graphic designers on the Lost Planet 2 team really stepped up their game. Specifically, the boss design of the Akrids is vastly detailed only matched by their impressive animations.

  • Beyond the opening levels, the game really opens up into some beautiful, expansive environments. The jungle and snow stages are particularly eye-catching; seriously beating out the original title. Character animations are solid and special effects, like explosions, light up the screen.

Audio

  • Similar to the graphical strides, the audio is stellar as well. The soundtrack of the game is quite impressive, particularly moments leading into the final boss battles. The grand orchestration is impressive to say the least. Although, these moments may be more powerful than normal as the remainder of the levels are fairly quiet in regards to music. The sound effects are well produced, but certainly not as notable as the musical track.

Conclusion

I was a fan of the original Lost Planet (single and multi player) back in 2007, despite its many faults. Fast forward 3.5 years and I find myself disappointed in Lost Planet 2. Itís as if the gameís development team learned nothing from the mistakes of the previous title, slapped a shiny coat of paint on it and shoved it out the door. Thereís still a quality game hiding in there, but its greatness is mauled apart by horrific AI, terrible campaign structure, a boring presentation and an unbalanced difficulty. The only redeeming factor is a somewhat improved multiplayer mode with a more in-depth character progression system. Still, itís definitely not worth the retail price tag by any stretch of the imagination, even if you adored the first game.

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