Lost Planet: Extreme Condition PC DVD
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
Release Date: Out Now
Earlier this year we reviewed the Xbox 360 version of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and, by all accounts, we were impressed. The game was a quality third-person shooter and we would still regard the game as one of the best Xbox 360 games so far. Naturally then, when Capcom announced that the game was also arriving on the PC, we were always going to be very interested in how the PC version turned out. The PC version of the game has also managed to stir up a lot of interest among PC gamers because it's one of the few to actually support DirectX 10 meaning it can put those Nvidia GeForce 8800 and ATi HD 2900XT graphics cards through their paces. In fact, what we have here is one of the most demanding PC games to date.
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 the 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.
The PC version of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is essentially the same game as the Xbox 360 version. The game even supports the Xbox 360 controller although you can play using the keyboard and mouse if you wish. Rather shoddily all of the tutorial messages only display the Xbox 360 buttons, so if you're using the keyboard and mouse control scheme the tutorial messages are essentially worthless. The menus can be tricky to navigate and haven't really been tailored to suit the PC's point and click control scheme. The game uses Steam so you'll have to have a Steam account and be connected to the Internet. The game doesn't allow you to quick save or save your progress at points of your choosing so you're essentially stuck with console-like checkpoints. When you're done with the 12 single-player missions you'll be able to head online for 16-player multiplayer action. The online modes on offer include Elimination, Team Elimination, Post Grab and Fugitive.
On the Xbox 360 Lost Planet looked great and on the PC it can look even better if you have the hardware. Those who don't upgrade their PC on a regular basis probably won't be able to enjoy Lost Planet in all its glory however. We've been happily reviewing PC titles using an ATi X800XT graphics card for the last three years but we couldn't even play Lost Planet using this card as it doesn't support SM3.0 which is a requirement for this game. The result was that we have had to hold the review back until we've gained access to a graphics card that does support SM3.0. Even with the latest and greatest hardware in your PC it's likely that you'll suffer from low frame rates when running the game with maximum details. The game will even throw up a message when it detects your PC isn't running too well with the chosen settings, which is rather novel.
Lost Planet on the PC is exactly the same as the 360 version in regards to its deaf gamer friendliness. The game 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.
Those who enjoy action packed third-person shooters and have a powerful PC that's kept up to date with the latest and greatest PC hardware will enjoy what Lost Planet: Extreme Condition has to offer. Those who have played the 360 shouldn't consider the game however as there is practically no differences and the game felt more at home on the 360. In fact I ended up using the 360 controller over the keyboard and mouse controls even though the keyboard and mouse controls work reasonably well. There are some rough edges here and there is plenty of evidence that the game was first and foremost a console title. Sure the support for DirectX 10 is nice but tutorial messages for a keyboard and mouse control scheme, support for saving the game at any point, and a menu system that didn't feel awkward should definitely have been included. Despite the aforementioned irritations, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is still an enjoyable game, if you have the hardware to run it that is.
You'll need one hell of a PC in order to have Lost Planet: Extreme Condition looking its best but if you do have such a PC you'll see a visually impressive game. The game is exactly the same as the 360 version. In some ways this is a disappointment as a better save system, appropriate tutorial messages (if you're using a keyboard and mouse) and easier to navigate menus would have made the game feel less of a console port and more like a dedicated PC game.