Japanese Developer Still Stuck in the Past
I had high hopes for Lost Planet 2. It had a a decent amount of hype, pretty graphics and the promise of huge co-op boss battles; almost like a japanese Gears of War. Too bad this game couldn't hold a candle to that franchise, not even the original.
Lets start with what I enjoyed most about Lost Planet 2. From beginning to end, I was never let down in the presentation department. From the snow covered vistas and lush green jungles to the dark and dank Akrid caves, Lost Planet 2 is a looker. There's a large variety of environments and a great sense of scale. Textures looke sharp, and good lighting really sets the mood for each locale. But the technical side of the this game isn't perfect. Every so often the game would pause for half a second and the framerate isn't as solid as you'd expect from such a visual polish.
Lost Planet 2 also had its share of suprises for me. I only went into the multiplayer because I thought that I needed to in order to see everything that this game had to offer. But by the time my first session was over, Capcom had won over a little more favour. There's the standard suite of modes like deathmatch or 2 flag capture-the-flag, but there's also a mode called fugitive where one group is trying to avoid capture for the round while being hunted by another. It's a cool idea, and shows there was some creativity that went into Lost Planet's development.
The maps themselves are well balanced and battling another player in giant mech suits is still really fun. One of the few downsides to Lost Planet's multiplayer is the fact that it came out after Modern Warfare. There's a leveling up system as you might have guessed, but how you spend the points is where it loses me. Basically you spend your hard earned points on a roulette that unlocks whatever you land on. This could be new passive abilites, weapons, emotes or titles. Sadly what I got most often were emotes and titles. I asked some of the other people online, and they too landed mostly on emotes and titles. That's not necessarily a bad thing, because randomizing it too much would mean that some players unlock better items well before you. But it felt like my points were being wasted on things that i wouldn't want anyways. The roulette is a good concept, but in practise it feels a lot like some of the later boss battles and levels: cheap.
I wish I could continue talking about how much I liked the game, but from here on out it's all downhill.
There's a lot that makes a 3rd Person Shooter feel right. Camera speed, accuracy and your characters agility to name a few. Capcom continues to be rooted in the past in all of these aspects. If Dead Space was a modern take on Resident Evil controls, then Gears of War would be Lost Planets equilvilent. From the way they assigned the buttons to the clunkiness of the shooting, it's never very fun to move around in Lost Planet 2. Not even the grappling hook can save it because of how useless it is. You can't grapple to enemies, or use it to clim things that look climbable. That is of course unless it's a clear predefined edge that are scattered sparingly throughout the world.
The single player portion of Lost Planet is a very disjointed experience. You play as a bunch of faceless characters from different factions who are only there to move you from one place to the next. Any attempt at a story was dropped early on in favour of a co-op experience and very large boss battles. Lost Planet doesn't have any shame about being a video game either. There are lots of aradey things like a respawn counter or the very full HUD.
Even the boss battles are lost in the past. The main strategy is to shoot at the bright orange spots until it dies. You'd think with the idea of having 4 people fight one boss, a multi-stage battle would be apporpriate. But instead the bosses are bullet sponges with very strong attacks. That last part, in my humble opinion, is one of the biggest misteps the game makes. It clearly wants you to know that it has really awesome co-op boss battles, just look at the back of the box. But what it delivers is some big bugs who can knock you down really easily, and hurt you a whole lot while doing it. The worst part is that the animation to get up takes so long that your already on your ass again before you even realise it.
The levels leading up to those huge disapointments aren't much better. They're varied and look amazing for sure, but the design behind them isn't as impressive. It hinges on having 4 players to perform a variety of button mashy tasks so to get to the next cut-scene, and the next set of weird tasks. Playing with a few other people definitely helped, but if your buy yourself expect nothing out of the friendly AI. They're almost as stupid as the enemy AI. All fo which love to get stuck in corners and walls, or to just stand around and not really do anything.
Lastly I get to the train level. You've probably seem it in other reviews and thought they were just bad at the game, I know I did. But let me tell you this is far and away from the exciting train levels in Killzone 2 or Uncharted 2. Remember how i said your character likes to get knocked down a lot from bosses? Well explosions also send your character flying, and when your life necessitates staying on top of that train, they become very annoying. If you didn't have any urge to throw a controller through your TV during this stage, congratulations.
Lost Planet 2 isn't an outright horrible game, but with so many desgin philosophies that seem rooted in the past and a clear focus on multiplayer content, what's left isn't anything special either. I think that capcom needs to take a hard look at how games have evolved to a point where the console and controllers don't limit what the player can do anymore, only the developer does. If you were really into the first Lost Planet's multiplayer then you probably won't care about my review and will buy the game regardless. But if aren't one of those people, then I can't see this game being any more than a rental.