A problematic situation
I have to say, this past tuesday was a bit of an up and down day for me. Upon checking my email, I noticed that my copy of Lost Planet 2 had arrived and was waiting on my door stop, which made me very happy. However, reviews were coming out, and were quite low. I bit my lower lip in order to quell the quivering caused by Arthur Geise's IGN review of a 6 out of 10. Having played a rather large amount of LP1, I really wanted to go into this game with high hopes. Capcom's combination of a slower paced 3rd person shooter with a vertical element really rubbed me the right way when it was released almost 3 and a half years ago. But now doubt was creeping in. I was worried that I may have purchased a lemon.
So upon getting home, I collected my package, shut down my laptop, ripped the game packaging open and slipped in the disc. The first place I went was the placed that most people's ire seemed to be directed at; The online lobbies and the multiplayer co-op. But as the server select screen arose, I was delighted. Dozens upon dozens of open games, all in "standing by" status, Most of them with 3 people simply looking for a fourth. This is what I was hoping for! Ease and accessability in the online experience! So, I chose a lobby, 3 people already waiting as I put in my headset. Everyone was very nice and cordial (shocker being live and all). And soon we were in the middle of the opening movie, late title screen and all.
And it was a blast. From the get go, people are piloting VSs, giant alien bug monsters are popping out of the ground, akrid are flying everywhere filling screens, prize boxes are falling all around us, it was everything I had come to expect from the Lost Planet Pedegree. I, with these 3 others, contined to play through 1-2, where the host had to leave.
And here is the first problem with the online experience, no host swapping. IF the host has to go, the game is over. But, that's not a huge deal right: Host swapping is a fairly new concept, especially for live, and dedicated servers are no where to be seen. So we can certainly roll with the punches. Which is where the second problem came in. Upon returning to the server select screen, I now saw the exactp opposite. Dozens and dozens of games lined up, all listed down as "Playing". Why? Even if I joined these games, I wouldn't be able to enter until a checkpoint was reached. Why couldn't I simply sort by "Standing By" lobbies? So I pressed x to refresh the screen, and pressed it again, and again. AND AGAIN. A good two dozen times resulted in nothing but "playing" lobbies. That niggling doubt began to creep back in.
So, I thought to myself, "Self, why don't you let the people come to you?". A great idea. I backed out to the campaign main menu and hosted a game. And waited. And waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. I turned my laptop back on and continued to wait. And continued, and continued....Eventually I started a running tally. I took 16 minutes for 1 person to join my lobby, and another 12 for us to get 4 people. That's 28 minutes of waiting to play. And that's terrible.
And it was here that I understood why people were scoring this game low. Out of the 2 hours I had attempted to play the game, I had only been able to actually PLAY for about 35 minutes. And I placed my controller down, and sighed, and went to get a beer. I had to agree with the majority of reviewers. The online system is borked, and because the rest of the game depended so heavily upon it, it intrinsically suffers.
But my friends, my friends...there is a silver lining to this game. When you can get into a game, If you can find a party that will stick with you to the end, when you feel as if you are actually playing the game and not trying to get into a single session, it was AMAZINGLY FUN. Last night, I spent about 3 hours working with 3 other xbox live players, the lot of us trying to get through world 2 on hard mode. We kept getting to the train yard and getting eviserated by the waves and waves of enemies constant rushing us. But we were laughing and yelling and hooting and hollering, barking commands, throwing down assists, relaying strategies, having a great time. Due to LP2's unforgiving save system, everytime we died, we had to return to the beginning of the mission, but we didn't care. We were having such a good time, working out each combat puzzle, getting through the previous areas in fractions of the time it took us when we first arrived, we only wanted to continue. That is the magic of LP2, even though it is clunky and non-intrusive and difficult to manage, it is fun. Shooting down Akrid, trying to take down enormous bosses, infiltrating rival bases, pulling off insane escapes, it was wonderful.
So friends, my friends, is this game perfect? No. It is fundimentally flawed in such a way that makes one question the validity of a japanese developers online worth. Archaic, pedantic issues that make things difficult and frustrating. But much like a pineapple, if you can cut through all that mess, there is a wonderful game waiting underneath. So please, have patience, give it a try. Goozex it if you don't want to spend money. But there is a wonderful game here. Something of great worth. For me it was worth 60 dollars, hands down. The meta critic score is low, most reviewers are down on it, but take my advice friends, try this. Because it's real real real good, if you can dig deep enough.
Also - Mexican Space Banditos, COME ON!!! HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS?!?