Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Review

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Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom

Platform: Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360

Humanity fled to space from a polluted and dying Earth to seek a new home. But space is inhospitable, and the icy planet E.D.N. III was one of the few to offer hope for a new home. Man had just begun carving out a foothold on E.D.N. III when we first encountered the Akrid, vicious insectoid creatures intent on stealing warmth from the colonists, consuming and destroying everything they encountered. Humanity was losing the battle until we developed massive, bipedal war machines known as Vital Suits, capable of taking the fight back to the Akrid hives.

Wayne is a young man, trained to battle the Akrid with a VS, who lost his father to a particularly large Akrid known to the colonists as "Green Eye." Rescued from near death by pirates, Wayne must combat sinister human forces while preventing the Akrid from exterminating every human on E.D.N. III.

Kyle Ackerman

Lost Planet chronicles the journey of Wayne, a colonist on the frozen planet E.D.N. III, as he transmutes from orphaned outcast to an instrument of revenge. As Wayne develops, so does the game. From a familiar and spectacular cold-weather bug hunt (in the spirit of Aliens or Starship Troopers), it morphs into a futuristic dueling game with flying robots and energy swords. While it's all entertaining, the final mission rudely ripped me from a pleasant Hollywood romp and dropped me in a Tokyo robot flick. And me with my best bug-squashing suit on.

"Is this going to be a stand-up fight sir, or another bug hunt?"

While the plot in Lost Planet is about revenge, corporate betrayal and smashing bugs, the game is really a snow-covered excuse for a series of clever boss battles. The massive Akrid concentrate the planet's available "thermal energy" (why this isn't just heat, or why thermal energy looks like gooey orange glop is never explained). As a result, the most vulnerable parts of the Akrid glow with thermal energy, hinting at the places you should hammer with bullets, lasers and rockets, until the Akrid collapses into ice and rivulets of thermal goop available to power up your own suit.

Human-designed mechanical foes have equally intuitive weak spots, so all the big, nasty foes break down into skillfully designed challenges – figure out and blast the weak spots while avoiding lethal damage. Everything else leads up to these one-on-one fights. Slogging through the snow and killing every bug on the way, or eliminating human corporate minions, are just prologues to these fights. While it's satisfying to wipe out swarms of Trilids and empty hives, a little planning and modest coordination are enough to get you to the big baddies. If the enemies seem endless, they probably are. That makes most of the levels about exploration and figuring out the best path – not killing everything on the map.

Nothing Like a Good Hook

When you hear that a game has heat, they don't usually mean thermal energy. But "T-Eng" keeps the pace of Lost Planet fast and makes everything urgent. Your avatar, Wayne, has an implant (the Harmonizer) that allows him to regenerate and recover from wounds, as long as he has a reserve of T-Eng. That same T-Eng keeps Wayne from freezing to death and powers the robotic VS combat suits that even the odds with the big bugs. Bigger machinery requires more power, though, so the more firepower at Wayne's disposal, the faster he has to move to get to the final fight. Other than the late-game genre shift, Lost Planet is full, solid shooter action. Then it takes that gameplay online.

Lost Planet's online play is the single-player campaign's mysterious reflection. All the elements used to construct Wayne's quest for revenge transform into more conventional multiplayer online battles. Instead of battles against overpowered tanks and overgrown bugs, players battle each other on equal terms. There's the usual assortment of battle modes, with Vital Suits replacing vehicles and data posts replacing flags. What makes this more fun than run-of-the-mill online matches is the anchor shot – anyone can use this high-tech grapple to jump up to higher areas, making the entire battle a real 3D scramble.

So, never mind the flying samurai robots. Take a trip to Lost Planet and blast big bugs in style – and take the occasional break for multiplayer matches, grapnel-style.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on February 14, 2007 3:04 PM.

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