Capcom
Capcom
Action
1
01.12.07

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (Xbox 360)


My first experience with Lost Planet was playing the demo from E306, which was available for download over Xbox Live last summer. It only featured two levels, but I was completely blown away by its potential. Throughout the months that followed, Capcomís Xbox 360 exclusive spawned a lot of buzz and delays, and even though itís not the killer-app that Gears of War became, Lost Planet does offer plenty of thrills and non-stop run and gun delight.

Gameplay

You play Wayne, a snow pirate who wakes from a coma under the care of a team of colonist on an extremely cold ice planet called E.D.N. III. The only memory you have is the image of your father being killed by an Akrid, one of the many bug creatures that inhabit this ice world. To avenge your fatherís death, you join forces with these rebels to exterminate all of these creatures and rule the planet.

Okay, the story is as cheesy as your basic Japanese animation plot can be, but fortunately Capcomís Lost Planet is not a story based presentation, itís all about blowing the crap out of everything thrown at you. Itís a mixture of the Hoth snow battle from The Empire Strikes Back, tossed together with Starship Troopers and The Thing.

You control Wayne from a third person perspective, but unlike most games of this type, you do not remain in a centered fixed position and can move left, right, backwards or forward freely. You can only carry two weapons at a time, but there is plenty to choose ranging from machine gun, rocket launcher, sniper rifle, shotgun, plasma rifle, rotating gatling gun, disc and gum grenades, and a few other surprises. The control scheme is pretty basic and anyone should have a total feel for it before they complete the first mission.

One of the gadgets featured to this game is Wayneís grappling hook, which launches from his gear by pressing the X button, and pulls him up to higher ground. This is cool for about ten minutes, but then you realize that if it werenít in the game you really wouldnít miss it. It would have been sweet if you could use the grappling hook to climb up one of the giant creatures you fight, or use it to hold one in place as you blow it away. Maybe Capcom will add that to the sequel.

Within the 11 missions of the single player game there are two ways to do battle, either on foot or by hopping into a Vital Suit (VS), which is a transforming battle mech. The action is fast and furious, as creatures of all shapes, sizes, and power come at you from every angle. You never have a moment to catch your breath, because if you take your finger off the trigger for one second, youíre dead. One thing that must be noted is that this game features THE BEST EXPLOSIONSÖEVER! Normally in games when something explodes, the fireball shoots up, but in Lost Planet the explosions shoot towards the screen. Itís a simple visual trick thatís incredibly effective and gives you complete satisfaction when you blow up something huge.

When a creature is killed it leaves an orange puddle in the snow, which through a device that is attached to Wayneís wrist, can be harnessed as thermal energy to keep your body warm. The HUD shows how much of this thermal juice you have stored. If you run out of it and take heavy damage, itís game over. So itís important to always monitor your supply when youíre in a battle.

The AI is in this game is really weak. You can instantly figure out a pattern to attack whatever enemy you go up against. The snow pirates that you encounter from time to time can barely hit their target, even if they have you surrounded. Since this is a rapid-fire game, the generic AI doesnít really bring down the experience, because thereís so much going on at once that youíll always be entertained.

Lost Planet is all about the boss battles. Each mission ends with Wayne going head-to-head with a larger than life creature or mech, requiring constant movement and firepower to bring it down. None of these boss battles are particularly hard, because you can quickly see what needs to be done to terminate your enemy, but they provide an incredible adrenaline rush that is missing in a lot of todayís action games. The only boss battle I was disappointed with is the final one, which not to give anything away, does not seem to match the feel of the rest of the game.

On the multiplayer side, Lost Planet supports up to 16 players for on-line battles, with eight maps and four different game modes. Thereís of course deathmatch and team deathmatch, and to add more thrills to the mix a fugitive mode, which is an all against one run-and-gun match. The maps are large, providing cool settings for mayhem, and the grappling hook, which didnít really get much use in the single player game, is actually more fun in multiplayer, because if youíre trapped you can just trigger it and propel yourself out of the line of fire like Batman.

Graphics

Lost Planet definitely gets an A+ for presentation. This game screams next-gen glory with its huge snowdrifts, detailed creatures, kick ass explosions, and hovering mechs. The graphics are not attempting to be photo realistic, but more like an animated film that youíre controlling. The cut scenes are top notch, which is expected from Capcom titles, and did I mention the kick ass explosions? There are some moments of slow down whenever a lot of activity is occurring on screen, but it doesnít happen enough to take away from gameplay.

Sound

I played Lost Planet hooked up to my 5.1 stereo system and there were moments when I couldnít tell if the sound of the heavy wind I was hearing was coming from my outside my living room windows, or was it in the game. You can hear the bullet shells hitting the snow, Wayneís boots marching across the terrain, and the machinery moving inside of the mech Vital Suits. The only minor issue I had was with the voiceovers, which seemed at times as if one actor was doing multiple voices.

Replay Value

The single player mode is fairly short and can be knocked out in about 8 hours, but there are three difficulty settings to increase the challenge. There are also hidden coins in each mission with a letter printed on it, which must be collected to spell out words that are displayed on the ending stat screens of each level to earn achievements. These coins are hidden in the oddest places so you may have to keep going back to find them all. Add this with the addictive multiplayer and you have a sweet package that will keep this disc in your Xbox for a while.

Bottom Line:

Lost Planet is not perfect, but itís a great action game that delivers the goods. I loved that there were never any of those typical game moments where you get stuck and canít figure out where youíre going, or need to retrace your steps to find a key to unlock a door. This game follows the old school rules to focus on action, reflexes, and blowing away everything in sight. And after a long hard day, thatís the perfect recipe for fun.

Related Links:

Official Website for Lost Planet

-Johnny McNair




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