A very fun game despite alot of its odd design
Lost Planet 2 is an interesting insight in to the state of the Japanese gaming industry, one that is struggling to remain relevant in a world where 90% of the "big games" are made in western countries. Capcom is one of the few Japanese developers that whole heartedly embraced this simple fact; that if you want to sell your game in the current industry you need to appeal globally. Between Devil May Cry 4's more approachable combat, Resident Evil 5s heavy shooter emphasis and Lost Planet 2 trying so hard to be Monster Hunter for westerners its very clear they more than anyone else in Japan want to sell games to as many people as possible.
The ups and downs of this are pretty obvious, every game they've released this generation has been a mix of Japanese and Western design; a process that has resulted in all their games being close to full on western appeal but never quite making the distance.
You can boil Lost Planet 2 down to a very simple formula; pick a character and go shoot stuff. The longer you play the better the game gets and the more time you sink in the more stuff you unlock. Their are numerous set piece boss fights but most of the time you are doing the same kind of shooting ad-nauseum so if you don't enjoy how the game plays or feels you will hate it and every single encounter will be a test of frustration. Many, in fact most professional reviews have been very negative and almost all it has been because the person playing did not enjoy this game at its most basic level.
Not much has really changed, their are alot more diverse environments but the core gameplay is almost completely unaltered aside from the thermal energy mechanic being easier to manage. The differences all come with the online components and the much more expansive set of weapons, abilities and VS vehicles.
I am going to be "that guy" and say this is not a game you can play solo and if you are, you aren't doing it right. 50% if not more of Lost Planet 2's fun is had from all the hilarious and awesome stuff that comes from gaming with other people. Many segments of the game are clearly tuned and designed specifically for co-op so if you aren't playing with others you will die many times over and become frustrated very quickly because the bots are useless. But then when are bots ever useful in online focused games?
So if you don't want to play it how its meant to be played then don't play it. You wouldn't play Left4Dead solo, you can, but you wouldn't, Lost Planet 2 is no different. Lost Planet 2 is at its best when you and three others are working together to defeat one of the games many G-class Akrid (the really big bugs), a mission involving a train with a giant cannon that requires four people to operate is quite a unique and awesome experience when you're playing with people familiar not only with the game but with the fight itself.
Where Lost Planet 2 really does fall short is primarily around the nit-picky match making. Search for a game and sometimes it will simply not find any even when their are plenty and when you do find them for some reason their will always be an enormous list of parties you could join that are already playing which wont let you play until the group reaches the next chapter or goes back to the lobby screen. So you'll be waiting a while if you chose to join one of those. The only real way to get started is to either enter a group who is standing by in a lobby or create your own game session. Drop-in drop-out co-op this is not, a shame as it would have vastly improved this aspect of LP2.
Having to complete every chapter before being able to participate in them also detracts from the game but the campaigns easy enough that once your done its not a problem anymore. The nice reward for this odd design element is that you get to take your custom multiplayer characters in to co-op which is particular entertaining during cut scenes when playing as one of the Femme-Fatale's and the voice actor is clearly still male.
Now as for the multiplayer, its pretty standard stuff, I've tried playing all the modes but it seems that people simply aren't interested in anything but death match and team death match so I've yet to experience fugitive, a marked player vs everyone else mode I assume or egg battle which is a twist on capture the flag. Just like other popular shooters you unlock abilities, weapons and upgrades as you level up, LP2 also offers some pretty clever and funny titles and emote animations. The high level weapons and abilities really change the game so they're well worth playing for.
LP2 does suffer from some balancing issues with for example players wielding the gun-sword getting easy one-shot melee kills but its never so consistently bad that you wont be having fun.
Part of why I've been enjoying Lost Planet 2 so much is admittedly because its the first console game I've played so much online. I am a PC gamer at heart so when it comes to online PC is where I go but Lost Planet 2 was the first console game to really pull me in to its online component. Not surprisingly this has made me want to play the inevitable PC version much more. So yes LP2 is not a game you can just casually pick up and play, you'll have fun early on sure but the real meat of the experience it has to offer comes from devoted consistent play. That's not a high selling point for most people but for me it was just another part of its unique design that I accepted.
It should be noted I actually played the ps3 version but for some reason my review kept bugging out so I had to re-post it under a 360 label. Luckily the game is identical on both platforms aside from occasional frame rate drops on ps3.