|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Capcom||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Released: Jan. 12, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 16 (Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: T||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
Capcom's mysterious Lost Planet has finally arrived. Ever since we first saw footage of mechs moving across a frozen wasteland, gamers have been intrigued by the new game. The beautiful visuals of snow-blown environments realistic enough to drop temperatures ensured us that the game was going to look great, but how would it play? Gamers waiting on the verdict can relax; Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions delivers both visually and with its gameplay.
Lost Planet follows the story of Wayne, part of a crew of individuals trying to survive on a frozen planet where the temperatures are so low it is impossible for humans to live comfortably. Eventually, they discover that the insectoid aliens that inhabit the planet of E.D.N. III, the Akrid, possess T-energy, which the humans can harness to keep warm and stay alive. This premise sets the stage for Wayne to take the planet from the Akrid and kill the giant insects and the occasional snow pirate.
To accomplish his goals, Wayne must make his way across some very inhospitable environments. Most of the stages in the game look like snow covered landscapes with the occasional underground area. Regardless of the setting, every stage is set in subzero conditions, meaning that Wayne will freeze to death unless he can steal globules of thermal energy from his foes. These globules, called T-energy, can be retrieved from dead enemies, destroyed objects, and almost anything that explodes in the game. Wayne's T-energy reserves are tallied as a number in the corner of the screen alongside his health. When Wayne's health gets low, the T-energy replenishes it, so the game basically becomes a battle to keep the T-energy stocked to comfortable levels. This system prevents players from nonchalantly skipping battles and also becomes a timer of sorts, as Wayne must defeat each stage before his supply of T-energy is depleted. The stages are generally filled with foes, so this is usually an easy task.
There are also a number of Vital Suits, dubbed VS, for Wayne to use to travel. These VS are mechs that the gamer can enter to make fights easier. Most of the VS have a special ability, such as the ability to transform into a snowmobile, fire a smokescreen, double jump, or use a Gears-of-Waresque chainsaw. The player also has the option to mix and match the weapons on the Vital Suit or forego the VS completely to use the oversized weapons on-foot. While the Vital Suits aren't accompanied by the expected huge boost in power (They are powerful, but clunky and easily destroyed), there are still incredibly fun to use. In addition to the Vital Suits, Wayne also has a Bionic Commando like anchor that he can use to reach places too far to jump or perform special attacks.
Lost Planet is a third person shooter with Wayne onscreen firing into an aiming reticule. Wayne can run and gun, and the aiming reticule can be adjusted so that he can fire in nearly any direction as he charges or retreats. In this respect, the game controls well, except for the fact that Wayne cannot aim straight up and must backpedal to shoot foes directly above him. The Vital Suits have the same control scheme for the most part, although they are intentionally clunky and less maneuverable than Wayne.
The aforementioned visuals are gorgeous. Lost Planet really does a good job of recreating the feel of a frozen wasteland. Powdered snow flies up as Wayne treks through slush, and all of the character models stand up to scrutiny. The Akrid will make you cringe in revulsion when they get too close, especially some of the more exotic ones. The visuals are so good that there are times that the player will feel as if they were seeing their own breath in front of their faces. The smoke, fire, and explosion effects are incredible as well and must be seen to be believed.
One area where Lost Planet is unnecessarily cheap is in the regular falls that the hero will experience. There are a number of enormous Akrid that cause tremors, forcing Wayne to stumble across the ground for a few seconds while he regains his footing. While the animation is extraordinarily lifelike, it is also frustrating, as it occurs regularly for nearly each boss battle and seems unavoidable. This means that Wayne will spend an unrealistic amount of each boss battle either stumbling or picking himself up off the floor. This unnecessarily cheap handicap reminds the player that they're playing a game and disrupts the experience.
Speaking of the boss battles, Lost Planet really shines in the area of ambitious fights with gigantic Akrid monsters. Even with the cheap stumbling handicap, there is no greater triumph in the game than the moment that you defeat an Akrid moth hundreds of times your size. Or when you escape being devoured by an enormous ice worm. The boss battles are unquestionably epic, with foes that usually can't fit entirely onscreen, which only increases the sense of accomplishment when the foes are toppled.