Hell hath frozen over
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
Release Date: January 12, 2007
ESRB Rating: Teen
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
I had been watching this title for a while now, and what I have seen so far excited me. Enough so that Lost Planet was added to my “must own” games list for 2007. What really got me in frenzy was the concept of more Gears of War style coop multiplayer action, in a frozen tundra environment that is the world of Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions.
The story of Lost Planet is a typical tale of revenge set on a barren waste land. Decades of War ravaged Earth, rendering it inhabitable for humans any longer. Their hopes were to colonize a new deserted planet called E.D.N. III. This new planet was a frozen world of extreme cold temperatures, but would sustain human life. Upon arriving to the planet, humans found the planet far from being void of life as an alien life form called the Akrid forced the humans off the planet. Humans would not be humans without the ability to wage war on others. The war to control E.D.N. III had begun.
War. War never changes. The war between humans and the Akrid wages on. In Lost Planet, the player takes on the role of Wayne, a brave soldier who has sworn a vendetta to avenge his father’s death at the hands of “Green Eye”, a giant Akrid. To achieve his goal, he will need to battle not only the Akrid, a group of mercenaries known as the Snow Pirates, but also the elements itself. Does this not sound like a good gaming story? Sure it does. So why then did Capcom decide to mess things up so bad after the initial introduction that the entire storyline becomes nothing more than a distraction to the game? Actually talking about the storyline any more would be a distraction to this review. Let’s move on.
The visuals in Lost Planet are a treat to the eyes. The snow covered world looks good enough to give even the most seasoned Canadian the shivers. The Akrid look fantastic and very diverse. I will not even get into the bosses that grace the end of each mission. They are among the largest game characters to grace the Xbox 360 and truly have to be seen to be fully appreciated.
The game’s audio is equally as impressive as the visuals. I would not have thought it possible, but the game sounds cold as much as it looks cold. The voiceover work was also well done, maybe a bit overly dramatic for my personal taste, but I have come to expect this from games developed in Japan.
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Lost Planet is a third person shooter, a style of gaming that has recently gained a lot of popularity (thanks to the success of Gears of War). After the entire buzz about having multiplayer coop action, I was extremely disappointed to find out the game does not feature any coop action of any kind. With its main selling point gone, would the game hold-up? I am glad to say yes. The action in Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions is frenetic to say the least. Akrid come in a large variety of shapes and sizes and abilities, but all are dangerous.
E.D.N. III is a very, very cold place. The Akrid have perfectly adapted for life on the planet. They are able to survive in this harsh environment by their ability to harness and store thermal energy (T-Eng). Humans have adapted their gear to function off the T-Eng gathered from fallen Akrid. When exposed to the elements, T-Eng consumption will increase requiring it to be replenished (in other words, taken from the Akrid by force). The good news is that the Akrid as so efficient at storing T-Eng that spots of the stuff will appear over their body. These spots weaken their defensive shell and allow for a perfect target to take ‘em down. The bad news is that the Akrid are also well adapted to their surroundings and able to use the snow to their advantage allowing them to ambush unsuspecting victims.
Big bugs require big guns. Lost Planet has plenty of guns and some big ones as well. All classes of guns are present; machine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles and of course rocket launchers. Weapons can be found lying around the game world. Some of the biggest guns in the game are mounted on small man sized mechs (this is a Japanese title after all). Wayne can mount into these mechs and blast away at the Akrid. As a bonus, the mech will shelter Wayne from the elements and stop the usage of T-Eng. If Wayne’s T-Eng meter runs dry, Wayne will turn into a human popsicle. Something that is very fun to do, even it if looks extremely silly is to remove a gun from a mech and to watch as Wayne carries around a gun larger than his body size. The sight is ridiculous, but so much fun all the same.
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Lost Planet features some very large enemies. It may take several well placed rockets to down one of these critters and do not think they will sit idly by while Wayne reload and take aim. If Wayne wants to survive, he will need to learn when to shoot and when to run, or climb. Wayne has a very useful extendable arm appendage that can be used to grab on to ledges or weapons that would normally be too high for him to reach. If this sounds awfully familiar, rest assured it is. Capcom, the developer of Lost Planet, also developed another game in the 80s that featured a protagonist with an extendable arm called Bionic Commando.
The single player experience in Lost Planet will offer eleven huge levels, filled with plenty of stuff to kill and bosses that will test ones skill level. Once the single player game has been completed, do not place your copy of the game away just yet. Lost Planet features a very compelling multiplayer aspect as well. Lost Planet will not challenge the Xbox Live dominance of Gears of War and Call of Duty 2, but it does have what it takes to compete with the best of ‘em. Up to sixteen friends (or total strangers) can battle it out in four different multi-player game types; Fugitive, Elimination, Team Elimination, and Post Grab. My personal favourite was Fugitive. When the match starts, one player will be tagged as the fugitive, and all others as hunters. Let the fun begin. Elimination is basically Deathmatch and Post Grab nothing more than Capture the Flag, with many flags. Performing specific actions will gain the players well deserved experience points. Once the match is over, experience points will be added to the characters total experience. Once enough experience points have been accumulated, the character’s level will increase unlocking new character models and patterns.
Even with the loss of the multiplayer coop feature and the convoluted mess of a storyline, Lost Planet is still a highly recommended gaming experience.