Lost Planet 2 PlayStation 3
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition was one of the better games during the early phase of the Xbox 360’s lifespan offering up some solid third-person shooting action and some very challenging boss battles to boot. Needless to say then that I’ve been looking forward to Lost Planet 2 since it was first announced. It has to be said though that this sequel, particularly as a single-player experience, is an exercise in frustration and never manages to be anywhere near as enjoyable as the original Lost Planet.
The game’s campaign is once again set on the planet of E.D.N. III and in the years that have followed the events of the first game, it has undergone something of a global warming. There are still locations that are covered in thick snow but now there are jungle regions and deserts to contend with too. Of course there are still a hell of a lot of Akrid, those huge monsters which when killed yield the all-important Thermal Energy, to contend with and they are just as adept attacking you in thick jungle vegetation as they were in Arctic conditions.
There’s a stronger focus on multiplayer action in this sequel and even though there’s a single player here, it masquerades as a multiplayer experience. The campaign can be played as a single player experience by setting your connection type to offline. Up to three AI companions will accompany you during the campaign and you’ll even see multiplayer style user names displayed over their heads as if to mimic an online game. You’re even given an area complete countdown (in text) when finishing a mission.
Ideally you’re not going to want to play the campaign with AI companions as their ineffectiveness will soon irritate you. It’s better if you can play through the campaign with up to three friends who are willing to work as a team. Played in such a co-operative fashion, the game is more enjoyable and its moments of frustration are certainly reduced. Some of the frustrations will remain however. There are far too many times when Akrid suddenly appear on screen to knock you off your feet. During the boss fights there are too many attacks that will simply wipe out your health, killing you instantly. Some of the level design is poor, the mission with the trains so infuriating that you’ll be pulling your hair out in frustration, and makes the game far more frustrating than it should be. The distances between save points can simply be too large at times and it’s possible to lose thirty to forty minutes progress which again adds to the frustration. However, there are respawn points, kind of temporary save points, in between the save points so you won’t lose all of your progress provided you have the inclination to restart from the respawn point and make your way to the following save point. To add insult to injury, your objectives are not always as clear as they should be and it can be annoying figuring out what needs to be done.
The real problem with the campaign is that it’s just not interesting. Yes you’re up against hordes of Akrid and other enemies too but the storyline does nothing to keep you playing and it falls a long way short of the original game. It feels like a bunch of generic missions that have been thrown together and pales in comparison to other recent third-person shooters such as Uncharted 2 and Alan Wake. The difficulty level is all over the place, which is particularly noticeable when playing solo with AI companions, as in most situations they aren’t that great in assisting you. These niggles really add a sense of irritation to the proceedings and at times you’ll feel like throwing the controller at the wall.
As a multiplayer experience the game fares a little better but it’s still nothing to get excited about. It’s a little strange that you can only participate in other people’s campaigns if you’ve reached the same phase of the campaign as them (and the reverse is true too) which makes it far more cumbersome than it should be to play the campaign co-operatively. There are a number of competitive multiplayer modes, for up to 16 players and these include: Team Elimination, Data Post Battle, Akrid Egg Battle, Fugitive and Battle Series. You can play in Ranked, Custom or Faction matches. There are five factions in total: Rounders, Fight Junkies, Snow Pirate Elites, NEVEC Black Ops, and Femmes Fatales. The competitive multiplayer modes are OK in all fairness but there’s nothing you won’t have seen before here and given the general high standard of multiplayer modes on offer in games over the last few years it’s definitely nothing to get excited about.
Lost Planet 2 is actually a good looking game and uses a variety of visual effects to make the action seem more dramatic. The Akrid are once again impressive in size and are the visual highlights of the game. The PlayStation 3 version does have some minor frame rate issues however. You’ll notice the action pause for half a second from time to time and whilst it’s far from being problematic, it’s something that should have been ironed out prior to the game’s release. The load times are decent but you’ll have to take up a good chunk of your PS3 hard drive space as the game takes up just over four and half gigabytes to install.
The game’s cut scenes and in-game dialogue are subtitled. There are no character portraits or names to accompany the cut scene dialogue however, which means that it’s not always crystal clear who is saying what. Communications you receive whilst you are in a mission are subtitled and these comments do have the speaker’s name placed above the dialogue. Objectives, when given, are shown in text and can be recalled at any time. Respawning and end of area countdowns are shown visually too. In short, Lost Planet 2 shouldn’t cause deaf gamers any problems.
Lost Planet 2 fails to build on the promise of the original game and in many ways that’s disappointing. As a single player game it offers little but frustration and should you not be in a position to enjoy the game as a multiplayer experience, it’s a game that should be overlooked until you’ve played the much better third-person shooters that are available on the PlayStation 3. As a multiplayer experience it’s certainly a decent effort but even here you’ll be disappointed with some of the level design, the lack of clear objectives, the distance between save points and the awkwardness of setting up co-op games. All things considered, Lost Planet 2 is a big disappointment.