A fun, focused shooter.
Take a roulette wheel with plot devices replacing the numbers and George Lucas. There. You have Lost Planet’s team of writers. It’s tough to overstate just how bad the story is. It’s completely nonsensical and unintentionally hilarious, with characters so lost in their own fiction that almost anything could’ve truly been better. The foundation is good – a winter-bound planet has potential for terraforming, but the Akrid, a native alien, primal race, prove to be a genuine threat to the project. However, the Akrid naturally produce thermal energy, or T-ENG, a powerful and viable energy source. Humans gain a new motivation and here they are, on this perpetually freezing planet, ready to eradicate all Akrid, attain as much Akrid secretion as possible successfully colonize this landmass.
Because of such an egregious story, it’s somewhat of a minor miracle to find that Lost Planet is still very engaging game, even when Capcom’s incredible stable of writers do everything they can to sour the overall experience. Lost Planet plays pretty much like any recent third-person shooter in the past 5 years, with the exception of the grappling hook and sans a cover system. The grappling hook allows you to reach higher ground and will be required in specific instances, but it never does become an integral part of the game.
It never feels confining or repetitious, though. The time of day will constantly change, new enemies are introduced, new mechs beg to be driven and the setting slowly shifts away from the winter wonderland as the game goes on. With such a thin narrative barely providing a legitimate excuse for essentially everything, Capcom has leeway. In a sense, the awful story means less effort in providing a true reason for your daring escapades, which lets Capcom toss you into a varied, pulse-pounding adventure with less effort. It still is a migraine-inducing story, though.
As interesting as shooting big guns are, it’s important that the stuff you shoot at is worth shooting at and Capcom doesn’t disappoint for the most part. Two enemy types will fill in the role of getting shot at – humans and Akrid. The former is uninteresting, infused with AI that puts self-preservation on bottom of priorities. Fortunately, the Akrid are a memorable assortment of giant bugs and they play the starring role in combat. The giant moth that lays down explosive kidney stones, the hundreds of Starship Troopers-esque mass minions, the giant and angry praying mantis that flails around until it hits something. They’re all awesome and there are much more than the few just mentioned. While their bark is more threatening than their bite, they always look formidable, providing meaty, cinematic firefights, always ending with a rich, rich reward of T-ENG.
T-ENG is essentially an extended life bar. Your T-ENG meter will constantly descend and taking damage will cause it to drain even faster, because it’ll fill up your health back to full. Run out of this precious energy source and you’ll be dead, which in all honesty rarely ever becomes a dire threat, making the idea of surviving off of thermal energy moot.
Lost Planet’s presentation adds enormously to the visceral nature of the firefights. The game look terrific. The weather effects are convincing; it looks like this planet is meteorologically unsound. All other effects range from ludicrous to bombastically insane. Everything is always in excess; an explosion hogs your field of vision, excess use of motion blur causes general states of panic and the game is just visually loud. It’s easy to get lost in the sheer intensity of it all and that’s one of Lost Planet’s best qualities. When hoards of Akrid litter the screen with half a dozen explosions going off at once, it’s easy to fall completely in love with this game during some of its more chaotic moments.
The single-player is awfully short, clocking in at around 5 hours. There is a multi-player mode, but without any players online, it might as well not exist. Even with its brevity, Lost Planet is a very dense game, packing in a lot of excitement with the time it has. It never feels drawn out or diluted. If this game was five bucks on some bizarre, interdimensional plane of existence, Lost Planet would be an absolute steal, but a ludicrous sale like that only comes along two weekends ago. Even at its current retail price, Lost Planet is highly recommended. It’s a focused, memorable game, dishing out a chain of sequences that get the heart racing and the dopamine flowing. Just try to block out the story.