Lost Planet 2 Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Lost Planet 2 Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

East of E.D.N.

More than just the Akrid are buggy in this incredibly wonky third-person shooter from Capcom. Sure, the game sports moments of great fun, but more often than not you’ll struggle with loads of frustration, constant interruption, and uninspired gameplay. It’s a real shame that a game built from the ground up for four-player co-op could be so forgettable. Undoubtedly, the graphical polish, brutal difficulty, and loads of content will win its fair share of believers, but most players that pick this one up will be looking to unload it after just a few hours of play.

Lost Planet 2 screenshot

Lost Planet 2 fails to improve upon the pitfalls of the original. In fact, in many ways, the predecessor was a lot more fun (even with the timer of doom!); it appears that all the revisions made to the game have essentially thrown the baby (i.e. fun) out with the bath water. Time and time again I found my enjoyment thwarted by poor design and bad execution. If it weren’t for a few genuinely cool moments and features, this game simply couldn’t be recommended at all. It’s very ironic how a game this well-crafted in so many ways could be plagued so frequently by such amateurish missteps.

That being said, I’d like to start out by talking about what went right. What players are given this time around is an exceptionally beautiful, varied world within which to shoot giant bugs and rival factions. Truly, this is a gorgeous game that will set any high definition screen alight. From icy, windswept snowdrifts and stinking, oppressively hot jungles, to expertly lighted complexes and blazing deserts, E.D.N. III is a great place to battle.

In addition to the excellent environments, character and enemy designs are inspired. All the various human factions were nicely concepted; fleshed out with unique gear, tats, hairstyles, masks, etc. Also, there are a lot of unique, “oh s#!t”-inducing Akrids that constantly pop up. Best of all, the skyscraper-sized Category-G Akrids are some of the most imposing bosses you’ll face in gaming.

Facing off against these Cat-Gs is where Lost Planet 2 truly shines. These gargantuan battles require players to work in concert in order to bring them down. Aiming for their glowing orange weak spots, you’ll have to try and slice off their appendages in order to get at the truly vulnerable parts. These monsters also have supremely powerful, and varied, attack abilities, so dodging, using other players as bait, taking advantage of the terrain, and using superior firepower is all part and parcel of the intense, often strategic action.

Lost Planet 2 screenshot

As already hinted at, the game includes some rather robust co-op features that allow four-players to take on the campaign together. This game’s story mode was meant to be shared with others. Truly, it was built from the ground up specifically for four-player co-op. Joining up with a group of four players not only can make for some memorable gaming, but it also maximizes the gameplay; simultaneously alleviating certain pressures while creating new teamwork-based challenges. Also, not enough games out there offer a truly compelling co-op experience, and Capcom has gone out on a limb to make co-op the game-defining feature.

Also in the plus column, Lost Planet 2 can be very challenging and boasts loads of content. In addition to multiple difficulty and friendly-fire settings, the Akrid can be quite lethal, human enemies are often entrenched, and missions can be failed for the careless implementation (or blatant disregard) of team tactics. As such, core shooter fans will find a lot of challenge to savor. Moreover, if you find the gameplay interesting, there is a lot of content to enjoy, not only in the campaign but in a handful of other game modes as well. Lastly, end of mission point tallies and grade ranks in the campaign, as well as leveling up in the competitive online side of the game, mean players have a structure that may make multiple play-throughs worthwhile.

Lost Planet 2 screenshot

Disappointingly, that’s where the pros stop; the list of cons are far lengthier. For starters, the game is broken up by and into several missions. These missions feature cutscenes that try to throw an inane narrative into the mix. Unfortunately, you’re attention span will be assaulted by a barrage of “Please Wait” screens; constantly getting ripped from the action by these seemingly artificial and unnecessary stoppages in play gets very disconcerting, very quickly.

Along those lines, this problem is further exacerbated once you head online. That’s right; cutscene lag during co-op play is a constant issue. In other words, if you’re playing with people with slower connections, you’ll have to wait to jump into the action for their cutscenes to end. While these waits are usually quite minimal, the fact that they are there gets tiresome and even breeds a bit of animosity toward your teammates.

Lost Planet 2 screenshot

This animosity is another major problem for the co-op campaign. For example, mechs (called VS) are strewn throughout the game. Because they’re so fun to use compared to standard weaponry, it’s inevitably a mad dash to get to them. This makes certain players extremely greedy to play with. Additionally, the game doesn’t appropriately reward players for their efforts. It seems that the damage you dish out correlates directly to the score and rank you get at the end of a mission. As such, support tools (such as the powerful riot shield) and supporting roles in general are simply abandoned by the players. This imbalanced co-op assessment makes gameplay too one-dimensional – go balls to the wall or get offline. Rather than establishing a true sense of camaraderie, the game feels more like a free-for-all. This can get especially bad if you’re playing with random players online rather than with friends.

The game is also plagued by repetitive mission objectives (raise and protect the data terminals, clear out the enemy stronghold, etc.). If it weren’t for the distinct environments and unique foes, the six zones would be essentially filled with much of the same mundane events. Truly, there only a handful of scenarios that do a good job distinguishing themselves from the crowd.

As fun as the Cat-G Akrid can be, they also can make you feel useless. These titans take so much firepower to take down, the fact that they can regenerate their limbs is decidedly unsatisfying. Imagine unleashing fury at a glowing weak spot with a rocket just to have the beast crush you under a newly-sprouted appendage, apparently completely unaffected by your assault. What’s worse, the game implements a knockback mechanic that gets particularly annoying. Unfairly, enemies will hit you with their pea-shooters, causing you to stumble awkwardly. Similarly, Akrids will ram into you or swat you or fire off a breath weapon at you that are accompanied by painfully long animations.

There are several other issues that make this game poor that I will only be able to briefly touch on due to space constraints. The eight default control layouts are ponderous at best. The characters’ movements are slow, clunky, and deliberate. Item unlocks and customization features cannot be purchased directly, you have to hope you get lucky via an extremely tight slot machine setup (more often than not you’re reward with silly emotes and titles rather than weapons and body parts). The sub-menu interface is poor and slow; try changing your control scheme in the options menu – what a joke!

Lost Planet 2 screenshot

The list of smallish screw-ups could go on forever, but there are a few more problems I consider to be egregious. Worst of all, friendly and enemy AI is terrible. Because computer-controlled comrades are so dumb, taking on the campaign as a single-player is futile; you really shouldn’t pick this game up if you don’t plan on playing online. Because the human enemy AI is so lacking, assaulting strongholds and the like seems superfluous and boring. Almost as bad, the competitive multiplayer is poorly put together. Playing elimination and CTF variants in an arena simply isn’t any fun. I liked the addition of weekly faction battles (players can compete to try and wrest dominance away from other factions in a meta-competition), but there simply isn’t enough fun to be found to warrant staying with it. In the end, the competitive online side of LP2 is anemic; other multiplayer games out there (whether in Beta, broken by cheaters, or otherwise) are far superior.

Lost Planet 2 simply doesn’t live up to the developer’s grandiose plans. Other than the game’s beauty, the big, challenging bosses, and the infrequent fun that can be derived from four-player co-op, this is a gaming experience that can easily be passed up. Unless you simply need a four-player co-op shooter to play with friends, you’re almost certainly better off going another way.

The environments are spectacular, and the character and enemy designs are great. 2.8 Control
The default setups are unconventional and difficult to get used to, and the characters are plodding and slow. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The musical themes are reasonably epic, but the voiceover work is pedestrian at best. 3.0 Play Value
There is a lot to do and the four-player co-op features are nice. Unfortunately, the game is rarely any fun. 3.0 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Four-player co-op action: Team up to battle the giant Akrid in explosive four-player co-op play. Teamwork is the player’s key to victory as the team is dependent on each other to succeed and survive.
  • Character customization: You have hundreds of different ways to customize your look to truly help define your character on the battlefield both on- and offline. Certain weapons can also be customized to suit individual styles.
  • Beautiful environments: Capcom’s advanced graphics engine, MT Framework 2.0, brings the game to life with the next step in 3-D fidelity and performance.
  • Massive scale of enemies: Your skill on the battlefield and work as a team will be tested like never before against the giant Akrid. Utilize teamwork tactics, new weapons, and a variety of Vital Suits (VS) to fight these larger-than-life bosses.
  • Exciting new VS features: Based on fan feedback, the team has implemented an unbelievable variety of Vital Suits and new ways to combat VS overall. The new VS system has a powerful impact on the way you conquer the war zone in Lost Planet 2.

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