The original Lost Planet was met with mixed reaction but cemented itself as a decent new IP around the launch of the Xbox 360. The game comprised of shooting up snow pirates and alien lifeforms known as Akrids and was difficult in places and perhaps for some, a little too punishing as well. Capcom aimed to create an arcade like experience which didn’t bow down to the casual player, but opted to test your resolve to the max. With reasonable sales and a expanded follow up title in Colonies which offered more multiplayer gaming and you had the makings of a decent series on your hands. Well the sales must have been good because Capcom have given Keiji Inafune and Jun Takeuchi another shot at the series with Lost Planet 2, which although shares the name as its predecessor, is somewhat different in design.
As with the original, you’ve got a comprehensive campaign which can now be tackled online or via splitscreen with up to three additional players, making for some rather sweet four player co-op when you head online or hook up via system link. The splitscreen is a little more intimate and allows for two players to tackle what the game has to offer. Essentially you’ll be doing the same sorts of tasks that were in the original (shooting, and lots of shooting), except this time with AI team mates in tow if you so choose. The campaign is broken down into 6 episodes, with each telling the story from the perspective of a different set of pirates who inhabit the planet EDN III. Their stories quite cleverly intertwine and culminate into a rather spectacular climax, although there are no spoilers in this review so never fear. Each episode is then broken down into several chapters, and each chapter divided into missions which are checkpoints in reality. You’re graded on performance and the real beauty lies in the fact that once beaten you can then go back and play any chapter at will. Now you might wonder why you’d want to do this and rightly so, because this time round there’s very much an incentive to replay the missions over and over. The way the game has been designed with the characters on offer and the fact that you level up means that players will want to head off into the wilds and get shooting for more experience points and booty.
Initially you’re stuck with the standard characters dictated by the story, but once you’ve completed the 6 episodes you’re then able to use your own custom character which can range from Marcus Fenix from the Gears of War games, Albert Wesker from Resident Evil or even Frank West from Dead Rising. There are quite a few to choose from, and as you gain levels, more credits (gained from picking up enemy drops) you’ll be able to spend them on abilities, emotes, name tags and weapons – as you level up you’ll also unlock more goodies too. The game handles this in a rather unusual manner whereby you spin a wheel in what seems a random element, however, the items you gain are most likely tied to your level. The abilities are quite varied and can range from those which increase your combat effectiveness, to those which will gain you more experience points. You’ve got to put the time in here to get the most out of it, and like any good adventure game which uses the same principles, you’ll be battling levels over and over to grab those illusive cubes which drop every so often from enemies and provide random items which you check post mission.
During play you can go it alone, which isn’t as imposing as it sounds once you’ve got some inclination of what to expect. However, if you’re a little too overwhelmed by this prospect you can choose up to three AI team mates who will try and watch your back, although don’t expect too much intelligence as some unquestionable actions are committed and some bosses are trained to ignore them and go just for you or so it seems.
The emotes are quite amusing for co-op play albeit a pointless addition to the game, where pressing certain button combinations will make your character taunt, dance, praise or clap and all manner of moves designed not only to look cool and communicate without words, but antagonize your enemies. It seems the opposing AI is also quite adapt at using them too which can give you ample time to line up a headshot from afar – cheeky blighters.
The missions on offer are pretty straight forward and linear, requiring you to go from one point to another, activating switches and killing all and sundry who get in your way. There are a fair number of guns and grenades to choose from to help you on your way, and mastery of their use and effectiveness is a must if you’re going to survive, as many foes have weaknesses against certain weapons. There are also plenty of Vital Suits (mechs) to commandeer this time which are useful in gaining the upper hand against swarms of enemies and those which are a bit tougher. You’ll encounter several larger than life bosses which can present some challenging moments, although like the original, once you’ve worked out their weaknesses they can be beaten quite quickly. One such boss early on in Episode 1 was very troublesome at first resulting in an epic 30 minute ordeal, but became a complete cakewalk (even on the hard setting) once the correct attack procedure was worked out. It’s moments like these which makes the game very rewarding.
Aside from tackling the campaign, alone or with online buddies, there are some additional challenges for lone players to undertake. These are supposed to be preliminary rounds to the actual main modes of the game, but are quite extensive in their own right, and culminate into some impressive versus AI moments. There’s some real tests of skill at play in this mode, and with online leaderboards to climb makes these a welcome inclusion to the package. For players wishing to get gold medals on all of them is going to take a fair bit of skill and time.
The game uses Capcom’s very own MT Framework game engine which was also used in Resident Evil 5, making for a very nice looking game indeed. There are some moments of slowdown when the screen fills with large explosions, but for the most part the game runs silky smooth, even with screen filling bosses taking up room. There’s some great lighting and shadowing across the levels which are varied enough and a lot more intricate than the original – the original being confined to the snowy wastes. This time you’ll head off into a city, jungle, desert and even enter the upper regions of the planet’s atmosphere. There’s some excellent moments throughout and you’ll simply have a blast getting from point A to B intact. The character models are rather neat looking, with each pirate faction having a distinct look about them, there’s almost a Star Wars feel to some of the designs. The enemies are also well designed and if you pay attention you’ll encounter some old favourites from the original from time to time.
There are some issues with the camera at times where your view might be obstructed when in tight quarters, and sometimes your bullets might not hit a target when you’re behind cover and it looks like you’ve got a clear shot. Other niggles are mostly to do with the AI opponents being cheap, but that’s hardly something to complain about here.
The sound is of a high standard, with some reasonable voice performances throughout. However, the game has been hit with the lazy stick, because once you’re able to use the female skins in the campaign, the voice during the cutscenes is still male and makes it look rather uncomfortable to say the least. A small gripe but one worth mentioning. The rest of the game’s sound track is fitting and pumped up to suit the situations you and your teams get in and out of. There aren’t many memorable tunes aside from the main menu music which is rather excellent. Luckily you can change the soundtrack with an in built music player whilst browsing through the various options which is a neat touch.
The game offers a reasonable length campaign in the region of 7-10 hours depending on difficulty and skill, but as mentioned there’s an onus on replaying levels over and over to suit character upgrading. Then you have the additional bonus of playing with friends online which is very fun due to the simplicity of the game. You all head out into the fray and kill. There are no complicated puzzles to get in the way here, which is a good thing.
Aside from the solo and co-op play there is a comprehensive versus mode which players can jump into and get competitive. This is quite a major feature of the game and levelling up your character is supported across all modes, so there is always something to strive for. You’ll find a number of game types to sink your teeth into here ranging from the classics such as deathmatch type scenarios as well as some new ones such as Data Post Battle. What’s interesting is the faction multiplayer, where all of the played game’s results are tallied together in a giant war which players can take part in with their chosen pirate characters. The winning faction is crowned winner after a set time period has expired. From all of the modes on offer here, there’s plenty of replay value and stuff to sink your time into, even if you’re alone and offline.
Lost Planet 2 is very much a shooter fans game with no nonsense running and gunning and little hindrance other than the odd tough opponent. It’s a far less punishing game than its predecessor and comes out much better for it. The co-op brings a whole new element to the series, and with the character upgrading and the fact that once you’ve gone through the game you can then pick and choose your battles to level up characters is such a welcome and excellent way forward. The game feels very much open in this regard, and although you can largely ignore the story, it works well in context of what the end result is. In an age of DLC, it’s also good to see a game offer so many extras on the disc itself, rewarding players who put in the time and effort. There’s really very little to fault here because as a whole it seems to have all bases covered. A comprehensive and interesting campaign, challenges for those who want to hone their skills whilst competing against the wider audience, co-op play for friends to get down and dirty together (and yes weapons, and drops are unique to each character, so there’s no stealing), versus competitive play for those who love to beat down human players and of course the integrated system of character development – which by itself is enough to keep you hooked.
Capcom has done well to reinvent the series in Lost Planet 2, which is similar in many ways to its predecessor, but feels fresh enough to be classed almost as a new game entirely. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re a lone player or someone who likes to play with others. There’s enough content on the disc to make it a worthwhile purchase without the need to fork out on additional DLC, although you can expect some of that as well in due course. If you’re after a cool and collected action shooter then Lost Planet 2 is well worth a look in. It’s not the most tactical of shooters, but makes up for it with its furious and intense no nonsense gaming.