Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Xbox 360
Published by Capcom
Developed by Capcom
Release Date: Out Now
I don’t know why but I’ve always loved the snow. Maybe it’s the feel of it as you walk on it or the way it makes even the grubbiest of housing estates look clean? It might even be the fact that it reminds me of the good old days when it snowed in winter and you were sent home from school because the boiler had packed up. These days of course snow feels like something from the past. Global warming seems to have virtually wiped snow clean away as the winters in the UK now consist of rain, rain and even more rain. Good thing I like to see snow in my games then and Lost Planet: Extreme Condition has tons of the stuff and it’s not only there for decoration because in Lost Planet it’s possible to freeze to death. Of course with some of the huge enemies you’ll be facing in the game, that’s the least of your problems.
In Lost Planet you’ll play as a young man named Wayne Holden. Humankind has attempted to colonize the planet E.D.N. III. Unfortunately not only has the frozen climate made the task difficult but the indigenous creatures (some of which are huge), known as the Akrid have made the task virtually impossible. One colonization attempt has already failed but a subsequent attempt was made and it was soon discovered that the Akrid possess a resource known as Thermal Energy. This Thermal Energy was utilised by the humans and eventually a weapon known as the VS or Vital Suit (which are essentially mech type vehicles) was developed to help combat the Akrid. At the beginning of the game we almost see Wayne come to a sticky end at the hands of a gigantic Akrid known as Green Eye, only for his father to sacrifice himself to protect him. Wayne is eventually rescued after being trapped under snow and ice for a time, but he’s suffering from amnesia and can’t remember much of the past events. As well as still having to deal with the Akrid, there’s also the Snow Pirates (these are those people who were left behind when the first colonization attempt failed) to deal with too.
Lost Planet is a third-person shooter that is just choc-full of action. There are no complicated puzzles to solve or cautious stealth approach needed. In fact if you like your games to require an all guns blazing approach then you’re going to love Lost Planet. The Akrid come in every size but small, and are a lot of fun to fight against. Some of them are monstrously large (particularly Green Eye) and will take a fair bit of effort to defeat. Regardless of their size though, every Akrid has a weak spot that you’ll do well to exploit. These weak spots are fairly obvious (although not always easy to hit) and within moments you’ll know exactly where you have to hit the Akrid. In some ways this is refreshing as it allows the adrenaline pumping action to flow and the game is seldom frustrating. The game prevents itself from getting too repetitive by giving you both indoor and snow-covered outdoor locations to battle. In addition you’ll also make good use of the Vital Suits (which can be upgraded with all kinds of weapons) and when you’re piloting one of these you have the ability to fire more powerful weapons and perform large jumps and hover manoeuvres.
In most third-person shooters you’re simply concerned with your character's health and ammunition supplies. In Lost Planet you’ll also have to be concerned with preventing Wayne from freezing to death. Wayne has to keep a supply of Thermal Energy, which is continually depleting. Should his health bar be emptied it will refill using the Thermal Energy. Of course whilst this is handy (and avoids the rather annoying process of hunting down medical supplies) it puts a further strain on the supply of Thermal Energy. Fortunately you can extract Thermal Energy (which is visually represented by red blobs) from defeated Akrid and you’ll find Data Posts that can be activated and one of their purposes is to replenish your supply of Thermal Energy. Maintaining a supply of Thermal Energy isn’t much of a problem on the easy and normal difficulty settings but higher difficulty settings definitely prove more challenging in this respect.
When you’re done with the single-player game you can take part in 16-player games on Xbox Live. There are four game types which are the Deathmatch style Elimination and Team Elimination modes, Post Grab (where your team has to capture the most data posts) and finally Fugitive where it’s basically you against everyone else with the idea being to escape and survive the attacks of the other players. The online play is fun and it’s great to see that the game’s achievements also reward your progress online as well as in the single-player game.
Lost Planet looks good, very good in places, but it’s not the visual quality that’s going to wow you. What will wow you is the sheer size of some of the enemies you’ll face in the game as some of them you’ll face are absolutely huge. When you're not facing huge enemies the chances are you are facing multiple enemies. In fact at times you’ll be facing swarms of them and it’s pretty impressive that the frame rate remains solid at all times. Even some of the massive explosions don’t have much of an impact on the frame rate, which is excellent. I suppose if there’s one complaint I do have it’s that some of the communication text you’ll receive during a mission is on the small side when playing the game on a standard TV. This isn’t a major problem however.
Thankfully Lost Planet is subtitled and the subtitles are enabled by default. The game’s cutscenes are subtitled so you’ll be able to follow the storyline. The subtitles are simply shown in white text. There are no character names or portraits placed alongside the text and occasionally it can be a little tricky to know who is saying what. Mission objectives are shown in text. All important communications are shown in text and these do have the name of the character placed above the text. Both the objectives and all of the communications can be recalled by pressing the Back button. Your health and Thermal Energy status bars are always shown and when you’re involved in boss fights, the health bar for the boss is displayed at the bottom of the screen. All tutorial information is displayed in text and should you be using a Vital Suit that is in danger of exploding the word DANGER will be displayed in large red text, although I should mention that hearing gamers will be aware of a warning sound that plays before the text warning is displayed. All things considered, deaf gamers won’t have any real problems.
We’re only a few weeks into 2007 and the Xbox 360 already has its first great game of the year in Lost Planet: Extreme Condition. If you like third-person shooters that are choc-full of action from start to finish then you’re going to love what’s on offer here. Those who prefer puzzles and a sprinkling of stealth may not be quite so impressed. However the epic nature of the boss battles and general impressiveness of the game should be enough to win over even the most sceptical. If anything the only improvements we would have liked would have been a slightly longer single-player game and a bit more substance to the game's story. In fact as an action title it’s second only to the excellent Gears of War.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is a great third-person shooter that mixes a thoroughly entertaining single-player game with some fun online modes. The boss battles are truly epic in nature and the combat on the whole is very enjoyable.