I’ve played quite a bit of Lost Planet now, enough to get way past the point where a giant worm pops out of the ice and chases Wayne across the frozen ground. That scene was awesome, probably the highlight moment of the game so far. While you’re riding a vital suit that can transform into a snowmobile with a mounted machine gun you’re casually cruising along the ice when you see huge chunks of ground get thrown into the air. All of the sudden your vital suit explodes, Wayne’s thrown a few feet ahead and you turn around to see the mammoth artic worm explode out of the ground lunging towards you. The best part is that it wasn’t a cutscene, even though it easily could have been one. Instead you’re running for dear life and dodge rolling through the tundra to avoid getting eaten by the artic space worm.
In Lost Planet: Extreme Condition you’re constantly shooting your way to the next area to obtain more thermal energy. The Akrid, the bug-like inhabitants of the frozen world, have glowing orange thermal energy that keeps Wayne warm and can be used to recharge his life if he gets hit. Thermal energy is also used to pilot vital suits and shoot laser rifles. It’s a resource in the game, one that you’re going to want to collect. When you kill an Akrid by shooting its glowing orange weak spot, it freezes up and Wayne can collect the thermal energy for his own use. The thermal energy mechanic seems like it was designed so Wayne would always have to fight sort of like Hotsuma’s blood thirsty sword in Shinobi for the PS2. However, there’s a simpler solution, running away as fast as you can. Most of the time running works just as well as fighting since most battles are not required except for boss fights.
While you can run, Lost Planet is much more fun to play when you’re firing round after round. There’s always plenty of ammunition to find, machine guns are lying around and rocket launchers are mildly buried in snow. Vital Suits (mechs) are also easy to find, whenever you need one you’ll find one. Vital Suits typically have more powerful weapons and a separate life bar. When you’re up against a group of Akrid, Vital Suits turn the tide of battle in your favor. However, they use up more thermal energy than walking around and if you choose to use the laser rifle they use up a lot of thermal energy. Alternatively, if you want to fire heavy artillery you can pick up Vital Suit guns to fire. Since the guns are heavier than a handheld rocket launcher, Wayne can’t run and fire a Vital Suit weapon at the same time. During some boss fights this strategy is useful if all of the Vital Suits get blown up. Lost Planet also has a variety of grenades besides your standard hand grenade. You can pick up plasma grenades which stun a group of enemies, gum grenades that stick to walls or Vital Suits and dummy grenades during multiplayer battles that make fake versions of your character.
Wayne has one more handy tool at his disposal, a grappling hook. With this Wayne can climb up to some higher areas. I stress the “some” part because you can’t climb everywhere, even though you’re tempted to do so. For instance the second level of the game has an area where Akrid are attacking Wayne on the ground and there are buildings near by. Instead of fighting them head on it would be much easier to fight from a higher point, but the grappling hook won’t let you climb up. You’re not free to climb, instead there are fixed areas where there are grappling challenges to do. These areas aren’t tough to complete, unless you’re scouting for the hidden coins to shoot in each stage. Also the grappling hook can only go so far, if you really need to climb up high you’re going to find need a Vital Suit with the double jump ability.
Lost Planet’s online play is really the saving grace of the game. While the single player game is impressive for a little while, it gets pretty repetitive and the Vital Suits make all of the boss battles relatively the same. When you’re online you can select a couple different kinds of modes. You have your standard deathmatch where you compete for battle points. There is a variation of that mode where if you lose too many battle points by getting killed or blowing yourself up with grenades you’re booted from the match. The most entertaining mode to play for long games is where you capture five data posts on the map. In this mode you can work out strategies like splitting up to capture points and positioning snipers armed with rifles. After each match you’re given experience towards your player level. Lost Planet has an assessment of a player’s skill independent from their Gamerscore. Everyone automatically knows how good or terrible you are in the game because there’s a number indicating what level you are right by your name. On the plus side you know the abilities or lack there of immediately. On the downside new players are likely to be targets, because everyone knows they’re weak. Lost Planet doesn’t have a match matching system, instead it’s up to the players to find matches that they are equally skilled in.
While Lost Planet is one of the best looking games on the 360 and the multiplayer matches are pretty good, the single player campaign hardly holds its weight. Sure it has great scenes like the worm jumping out of the ice and early on when you’re in the first Akrid cave. However, the story is pretty uneventful and the campaign is easy to get through. Once you learn how to slide, shoot and fire both weapons boss battles are cake. Even the stages are pretty easy to pass if you’re a veteran of shooting games because of auto lock on. Lost Planet really lives on the shoulders of its online play, which is first class if you’re into the shooting your buddies kind of thing.
< Screenshots >