Lost Planet 2 takes place a decade after the first game. The colonists changed the planet from tundra to jungle and Capcom changed Lost Planet from a third person action game to a squad based shooter.
That is, perhaps, the biggest difference between Lost Planet and Lost Planet 2. Even in the campaign mode you, some random character, are joined by three other computer controlled characters. The problem is you have to depend on AI partners and you can’t control them. This is most apparent during boss fights where you and your squad go up against a giant Akrid. Lost Planet 2’s mammoth bosses take teamwork to defeat, but your “allies” just run into battle with guns blazing. It doesn’t even feel like they are aiming for the glowing orange cores, the weak spots on each Akrid’s giant shell. I suppose that’s a wash because the computer controlled enemies are equally brainless. They’ll stand right in front of you and watch you activate a data point or take control of a key spot.
Some players may be able to overlook clueless computer teammates because Lost Planet 2 was made to be played with friends or at least random strangers. PSN has a pretty decent community. After the game launched, finding an open slot is easy as long as you don’t mind waiting for a group to get to the next checkpoint. It’s worth the wait because Lost Planet 2, especially when you have a good group. The train mission comes to mind where players have to carry shells for another player firing a giant gun at a huge worm. When everything is in sync the level design works, but with a computer drone standing around while you’re waiting him to get a shell Lost Planet 2 drags. Also, other players can show you how to do that because Lost Planet 2 fast forwards through key mission details. On the other hand, the PDA details extra milestones you need to clear to get “GJ” or Good Job awards, which add points to your ranking.
Online co-op has one oddity. Players only fail a mission when the battle gauge drops to zero. You can increase the battle gauge by activating data points. Each time someone dies it drops 500 points. I think Capcom designed this system so no player is ever sitting on the bench waiting for the remaining players. In that sense, the battle gauge system works, but you can also fail a mission if one person keeps dying. It’s almost like players have a communal stock of lives when playing online. Computer deaths don’t lower the battle gauge. So you end up with an abundance of “lives” and, if you hog it, life restoring thermal energy when playing solo. Lost Planet 2 also has a competitive mode where NEVAC ops, Snow Pirates, and lightly dressed girls can shoot each other or fetch Akrid eggs.
I sort of skipped over the story because it isn’t compelling. You don’t get to know the various characters you play as in the six episodes enough to care about them or what’s going on in the jungle world. At the end of each campaign you can save. Note that said campaign, not mission. If you take a break between missions all of that progress is lost. The time between save points in Lost Planet 2 feels longer than some RPGs.
While Lost Planet 2 has some rough spots, it also has its moments. Riding a Vital Suit (read: mechs) is still a blast and the new vital suit that holds multiple players is an interesting addition when playing online. Encounters with G-Akrid, the large bosses, in the game are exciting. Capcom made these grand encounters since these fights aren’t easily won. Many of these even include a part where you or another teammate enters an Akrid’s entrails and shoot it from the inside.
Action is the guts of Lost Planet 2 and the game has plenty of that. Also, like action films Lost Planet 2 has a mind numbing characters, which also happen to be in your squad. Maybe for the threequel, Lost Planet will have a better balance between online and offline play.