Lost Planet met with mixed reviews when it was released – I was one of the gamers who thought that it was actually very good. It was not only a solid third person action game but at the time the engine really thrashed the newest graphics hardware. I have been waiting for some time to get my hands on a review copy of Lost Planet 2 and recently the X360 version landed on my lap.
Lost Planet 2 has been described by Jun Takeuchi as an ‘almost totally different game’ because while the original had you running around the barren ice lands you are now part of a four man multiplayer adventure throughout a diverse set of environments. Some of the core mechanics such as activating data posts and shooting oversized insects form a good connection to the original however.
Most people would agree that trying to enhance the game with a stronger online element would be a good thing, however the bed of roses is not without its share of thorns.
In Single player mode the title has no save system, no check pointing and if you die you simply respawn at the nearest data point previously visited. You don’t have a set amount of lives, you have ~’Battle Gauge points’ which vary depending on your chosen difficulty level. Confusingly this means if you die, you lose 500 of these points (1000 if you are in a Vital Mech Suit at the time of death). If you run out of these stupid BG points you then have to restart the level from the very start. I once lost almost an hour of time due to this – I will not elaborate on the expletives.
As the game starts, they wean you in delicately and this daft points system doesn’t sound like too much of an issue, but after a few hours of playing you get into some tricky level designs and the frustration soon begins to mount. It was just as well that my dog wasn’t nearby on a few occasions, it really is that frustrating.
Things get worse as you begin to realise just how shoddy the Artificial intelligence system is. Sure you won’t notice it if you are lucky enough to always play with some human friends, but once you are on your lonesome then you begin to realise that the computer controlled team have the combined intelligence of a slightly squashed garden slug. This AI and (lack of) checkpoint system could very well lead to many a youtube video being created with some teenage gamer with temper management issues slaughtering his whole family – with the controller.
Its manageable in a corridor or simple box shaped arena, but when you are tasked with loading cannons, running to specific locations and performing other complicated tasks then you end up doing everything yourself while being shadowed by Larry, Moe and Curly.
The controls aren’t intuitive either, and even though they never really were on the console, they seem worse this time around. If you want to melee you use the B button, if you want to activate your suit, ermm, use the B button. The all important grappling hook sometimes just doesn’t work and its only then you realise that you must be standing still with both feet firmly on the ground. Clearly the character has some balance issues and would fall flat on his arse if he tried it with even a toe off the ground. The problems are compounded when you often are left wondering exactly what you have to do in the first place – the game offers very little in the way of guidance.
So far we have worked out that the game is sadly lacking in a few rather important areas, but unfortunately the story just ruins the game to the point of becoming a joke. Lost Planet 2 takes place ten years after the first. More pirate factions are demanding territory and killing for it – military organisation NEVEC has plans to harvest the Cat-G Akrid for their thermal energy, even if that means wiping out the planet while doing so. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda. The six game episodes are handled from various perspectives and are flooded with embarassing racial stereotypes – so loaded in cliche its painful to watch.
You never feel a part of a cohesive world and the story just rambles on meaninglessly in the background while you battle with computer AI and work out exactly what the developers want you to do in the next section. You want my three AI guys to do what? Yeah, right ….
Competitive multiplayer is a decent escape from the mind numbing single player campaigns however I can’t help but feel that the market has changed so much since the release of the first game that they really just didn’t ‘do enough’ to justify this as a multiplayer treat in 2010. There are varied modes but it really all just ends up being just another multiplayer game that no one will remember in a few months.
Lost Planet 2 has destroyed my mainly favourable memories of the first game – I had many long nights on my PC enjoying the single player element and it was one of the games I used for a long time to benchmark graphics hardware – hell, it was always even enjoyable to watch. They have ruined the franchise by releasing a dated looking title with broken AI and a dumb, meandering plot. The single player campaign lasts for approximately 15 hours although you can add another 3 or 4 hours for backtracking when you die – thanks to your retarded AI teammates, all wandering about in random directions looking for a brain.
I advise you pass on this game and save your money for something more polished and enjoyable, which is basically almost anything for the Xbox 360 right now – the potential was high which is even more depressing. Revisit Gears Of War 2, you will thank me for it.