Capcom has been a major contributor to the 360, but will Lost Planet leave you in the cold?
With both single player and multiplayer demos on the Xbox Live Marketplace, Lost Planet has been causing quite a stir since the E3 demo was released. Summed up as a cold version of the space movie Starship Troopers, Lost Planet is a pretty decent game that offers more entertainment than a typical snowball fight.
The player takes the role of a character named Wayne, a soldier with a bad case of amnesia. Wayne’s main goal is to avenge his father, find out his past, and kill a lot of bugs. Like Starship Troopers, insects of every shape and size make living on the frozen planet a living hell.
A big catch of this 3rd person shooter is the use of a grapple hook. Allowing travel to hard to reach places, the grapple hook is a nice gameplay element. Once the grapple hook is attached to a surface, the player will be flung forward followed by a vertical hop to reach the top of ledges. When the player, either intentionally or on purpose, falls off a ledge, the grapple is automatically employed to allow for a safe decent. Despite being a pretty nifty tool, the grapple has one major flaw; you cannot use it while in the air. If the player was allowed to jump, then grapple at its apex, the gameplay, fun factor and speed would have been slighted upgraded, bringing a more Bionic Commando theme to the game.
Wayne will encounter many types of enemies throughout the game. Besides your typical drone/common enemies, the mini bosses and boss battles are highly entertaining. Some bosses are so big they will stretch through your TV screen. In order to take these buggers down, Wayne has an arsenal of weaponry at his disposal. Everything from machine guns, to rocket launchers, grenades to laser rifles, the player can take out any enemy on foot. However, the main feather in the hat of Lost Planet is the VS machines, battle mechs that can be fitted with several types of guns. Some mechs are fast, some can float, some can double jump, and some can even drill. No matter which mech you use, guns can be added or swapped out whenever you find a new one on the battle field, allowing a decent degree of customization.
While most VS machines are a joy to pilot, the worst one to control takes place in the last stage of the game (*SPOILER ALERT). As a final battle, the main character’s VS machine receives a major upgrade, giving it the technology of flight. Moving through this last stage is a lot like Zone of the Enders — except bad. The flight is shoddy and unresponsive and the game never really tells you how to control the damn thing. For the longest time I was using my putt-putt gun against the final boss and got my ass kicked. Plus the putt-putt gun is mapped to the “X” button, so you cannot simultaneously use your right thumb to aim. Only after dying a few times did I realize that the trigger button launched a blade attack. But it then took me another few deaths to realize that you have to hold the trigger button down to do any significant amount of damage. The way this VS is laid out and controlled does not give the player a clear idea of what is going on.
The single player story mode stretches throughout about a dozen missions. Each mission contains some well made cut scenes that extend the story line before the player’s eyes. Twists, turns, and betrayals are around every corner. So much so that you think that the developers might have taken a note from the Metal Gear Solid series. Although the story isn’t the best in the world, it does offer a decent incentive to complete the next level to see how the plot will unfold.
Hidden throughout each level are floating coins that once shot, are added to your inventory. Collect all coins in one level and an Achievement will be unlocked. Collecting these coins can be a major pain in the ass as they are very difficult to find, but they do offer a solid reason to go back and play through a level again.
Most enemies have one specific weak spot that will need to be exploited in order to bring them down. However, the game will always hold your hand in this department. Each enemy’s weakness always glows orange, eliminating the puzzling wonder of how to bring down the beast. However, this orange glow can either be seen as a blessing or a curse depending which side of the coin you are on. But if the enemy’s weak spot did not glow, I still think players would have not had a major problem finding each enemy’s weakness due to the organic structure of each bug. If a creature has long legs that connect at the knee by a small piece of bone, I think common sense would tell you to shoot at that point to the make the beast fall.
Multiplayer mode is no Halo 2, but it will entertain for a while. The game offers four types of multiplayer death matches with each mode adding to your overall level. The more you play, the more players you kill, and the more dataposts you grab, the higher your score at the end of the match. After a certain number of points, your rank will increase, unlocking Achievements and new skins along the way.
Lost Planet does support some fantastic visuals, best played on a high def TV. At times you’ll have beautiful screens literally filled with swarms of flying bugs (50+ in a relatively small room) without a hint of slow-down. Also, as most games try and get water texture and physics correct, this game works to develop proper snow behaviors. With the help of the Havok physics engine, the game’s snow effects work realistically. You can feel your character trudging through waist high snow and the snow will fly everywhere when a rocket explodes. And it should be noted that controlling your on-screen character just feels incredibly natural. Using both analog sticks to move your aiming reticule will result in your character twisting and turning along with it, something that has not been truly detailed in games before. The way the character moves with the aiming reticule just feels smooth and intuitive.
The audio quality of the game has also been treated with care. Because the game often has you fighting ridiculously large enemies, the game’s music helps enhance these epic battles. Larger, symphony-like musical themes will appear when a boss appears but then only the sound of the wind will fill your ears as you are plodding along a snow plain. The 5.1 surround sounds great and will be used to your advantage while in game because you can hear which direction the action is coming from. The voice acting is also well done. And fans of the Metal Gear may realize that the actor that voices young Revolver Ocelot in Snake Eater is the same actor who voices Wayne.
Taking one part Bionic Commando, one part Starship Troopers, and one part action, Lost Planet results in an entertaining game. The single player adventure is not too long but will provide a fun High Def experience. And the multiplayer mode isn’t too detailed, but will also provide hours of enjoyment. Lost Planet does most things correctly, if unspectacularly so it just misses out on having that top-notch quality. But as 360 games go, Lost Planet is definitely one of the better titles. Thank you Capcom and I am looking forward to your next title.