Giant Bomb Review

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Lost Planet 2 Review

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Everything about this nice-looking, mostly online shooter is cumbersome and unpleasant to deal with in one way or another.


 The action has gotten hotter on E.D.N. III.
On paper, Lost Planet 2 looks like it ought to be a good (or great) online-oriented third-person shooter. It's got a lengthy campaign full of absolutely enormous monsters, and a lot more varied environments than the arctic-only levels of the first game. There's a full multiplayer component with a variety of maps and modes, and a whole array of giant powered robot armor (called vital suits) to pilot. And it's all tied together by a global character-progression system that lets you unlock a bunch of new weapons and abilities, not to mention some silly new cosmetic doohickeys, for your warrior. By the numbers, that seems to me like a recipe for an all-around entertaining (if not entirely original) action game.

But the unfortunate reality is that every piece of Lost Planet 2 is poorly designed or clumsily bolted onto all the other parts, or both, resulting in an inconsistent, frustrating, and sometimes baffling experience whether you're playing the action or just trying to sift through the byzantine menus. You frequently get the sense that nobody at Capcom ever stepped back and really took a hard look at how all the game's systems fit together, to see if all the mechanics made sense and whether the action was fun to play or not. It's just a roughly made game from top to bottom.

 The outlandish akrid bosses are the most memorable thing about the campaign.
Lost Planet 2 styles itself as such an online-centric experience that when you go to start a campaign game, you're actually creating a four-player online lobby. You can set your lobby to offline, but even then you're still advised to play with AI-controlled characters that actualy have fake usernames hovering over their heads to simulate the online co-op experience. The game practically requires real players to be any fun, though, since the AI teammates only pull their weight some of the time. Other times, they'll just hang around and not really pitch in while you do all the heavy lifting yourself. At times (mainly when fighting the bosses), the game is so punishing that the difficulty feels like it was balanced toward four real players capable of thinking tactically and not mindless automatons who run around aimlessly, so you'd be forgiven for playing the campaign on the easy setting if you're forced to play it alone. That's certainly the most pleasant way to play it by yourself.

Despite the focus on cooperating with other human beings, Lost Planet 2 makes it maddeningly hard to actually get a co-op game going. You can't bring in players who haven't already reached the point in the campaign that you're trying to play, and likewise you can only join games that are running levels you've already seen yourself. Joining a game in progress doesn't drop you right into the action but merely leaves you staring at a static menu screen showing the players (both real and fake) who are currently playing. Presumably, you'd eventually get to join in the action at a checkpoint, but 15 minutes was the longest I could stand to look at that unmoving screen before quitting out, so I never got to test that particular feature. Other shooters have certainly gotten the chapter-selectable, drop-in style of campaign co-op right--Halo and Gears of War come to mind--so it's hard to understand why this one makes it so tough to just get in and start shooting with friends.

 The action is too slow and clunky to keep up with other modern shooters.
Whether you're playing with friends or bots, the unbalanced difficulty is made a lot worse by the distance between checkpoints. If you run out of what passes for extra lives while fighting one of those bosses--and when's the last time you remember a shooter that had a finite number of lives?--you could find yourself losing 30 or 45 minutes of progress as you zoom way back to the last time the game meted out a checkpoint. As archaic as that is, it's not the worst of the game's messy campaign infrastructure. At one point in the back end of the campaign, I was playing an online-enabled game, on the off chance that someone might randomly jump into the action. My Internet connection dropped out for a second and disconnected me from Xbox Live, at which point the game abruptly cut to a black screen with a "Disconnected from host" error message. In a single-player game. That set me back at least 30 minutes of progress and incidentally made me never, ever want to play Lost Planet 2's campaign again.

It doesn't help that the campaign isn't really much to write home about, anyway. It takes place some time after the first game, when the previously snow-covered planet E.D.N. III has undergone a rapid warming due to ongoing civil war, developing deserts, jungles, and vast oceans. With the focus squarely on co-op, the missions start to feel generic, almost like a primer for multiplayer, after a while. And since the story shifts from one warring faction to the next between every episode--with most characters wearing face masks and having no obvious names--it's hard to keep up with or really care about the events of the plot. The best part of the campaign is the sheer, ludicrous size of the "category G" akrid monsters, which should be familiar to veterans of the first game. You'll spend most of the campaign in this sequel shooting at human enemies, but every once in a while a boss monster will trot out that's so big it puts almost any other video game boss to shame. Too bad these guys aren't as fun to fight as they are impressive to see; you generally spend 10 to 20 minutes shooting them in glowing weak points, and soaking up a ton of damage from unavoidable attacks, until they finally die (or you do, and revert to the last checkpoint). Having been weaned on Contra in my youth, I'm no stranger to shooting things in glowing weak points until they die, but this is just excessive.

 Unlocking new gear is more complicated than it needs to be.
The game's competitive multiplayer is a little more sensibly designed. It's got your standard run of deathmatch and territory-control modes, as well as variants on kill-the-VIP and capture-the-flag (or in this case, the akrid egg). The vital suits are available in the campaign but they play a bigger role here, since there are all manner of huge suits that can accommodate not just a pilot but several hangers-on who can fire from the sides. Heck, sometimes they aren't suits at all but more conventional vehicles like helicopters. There are a lot of ways to mix the vital suits and other gameplay-variable elements into the different modes that can change up the action. The typical ranked and custom multiplayer game types are available, as well as a faction match that lets you pick one of the five sides and compete over a lengthy period of time for global supremacy.

It's too bad that the action in the multiplayer shares the same basic clunkiness of the campaign, though. The core controls just feel awkward, slow, and unresponsive compared to the better shooters on the market. You have to stop moving to change weapons. It takes what feels like forever to get up after getting knocked down. The sprint move feels slower than the regular movement speed. The grappling hook only works on a few surfaces, you can't use it in the air, and it takes way too long to get you on top of a ledge. The list goes on. The aiming and shooting are serviceable, but the movement isn't nearly as streamlined and accessible as it should be to make Lost Planet 2 feel as playable as other contemporary shooters. It's almost as if the game prioritizes long, flashy animations over basic playability. Both modes lean too heavily on meters and numbers, too. The thermal energy from the first game has been modified so that here you can use it to heal yourself and repair vital suits, but it still feels unnecessary. There's also a "battle gauge" that determines how many times you can respawn in the campaign (yes, you respawn, with a timer, even in single-player). The last thing I want to do in a heated firefight is micromanage multiple gauges and statistics that dictate my survivability, but there you have it.

 Seriously, c'mon.
The campaign and multiplayer modes are unified by a de rigueur character level-up system that parcels out new weapon types and plenty of for-looks-only armor and clothing options to customize your online fighter. But this system is perhaps the most baffling of all, since the game does a poor job of communicating information to you about virtually everything that's going on, from the amount of experience you gain through both the campaign and multiplayer matches to how your online characters from each faction level up and how or when you unlock new equipment. You mainly cash in experience points on an in-game slot machine to randomly unlock new weapons and abilities, but I repeatedly wasted my points receiving new online titles and emote animations more frequently than I got real new gear to use. Talk about frustrating. It's telling that I actually had to go to the game manual to clarify some of these obscure, unintuitive systems. Ask yourself how long it's been since you had to rely on a manual to enjoy a game like this.

It feels like Capcom barely missed making a great game with Lost Planet 2. It looks fantastic; the multiplatform MT Framework engine that powered Resident Evil 5 last year is still pumping out truly great visuals, the enormous akrid bosses being the most prominent example. With faster and more responsive controls, a better multiplayer framework, and a smoother character progression system, this one could have been surprisingly competitive in its category. But with so many problems holding it back, Lost Planet 2 is hard to recommend against all the other great shooters already out there. Brad Shoemaker on Google+
190 Comments
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Posted by Corpsegrinder

Ouch. Harsh. I can recommend this game to a certain type of player. However it probably isn't for most.

Posted by eddiephlash

Nice.

Posted by rybrad

This games sounds exactly like every preview looked (terrible).

Posted by PistolPackinPoet

wow.

Posted by Nemesis2K

The first sucked, the demo for 2 sucked.... this was no shocker.
Posted by Joten

I hope it's worth at least a rent, I was really looking forward to playing co-op online with some friends

Posted by elko84

damn i just ordered this too

Posted by weegieanawrench

I did like the first one, but I'm not really surprised by this at all.

Posted by Hot_Karl

Ouchies Brad, that hurts!

Posted by ThePhantomnaut

Shit that's hard.

Posted by Kelswitch

Shame, im really enjoying this so far.

Posted by ApertureSilence

The original Lost Planet is one of the few games that I quit out of sheer frustration. I can relate to this review.

Posted by JoelTGM

It does look nice, but wow it has a lot of problems.  I think I'll just stick to playing the better shooters I already have.

Posted by JJOR64

Ouch.  I was really looking forward to this, but I've been seeing some bad reviews for it so I'm not sure if I will get it now.  I might get it when the price goes down.

Edited by cooljammer00

Yikes. 
 
edit:  Oh wow, I know a lot of people excited for this game, but that BS co-op drop in feature sounds awful.    

Posted by bybeach

I'm not suprised. I checked out the trailers and such, and the graphics looked great. They seemed to want to do something with it. But the mexican space/sand bandits, and guys walking around with toilet seat like helmets.  Ehhh, There was a big  dissconnect,  I didn't like the first one, either.
Edited by Chris2KLee

Seems to be the consensus on this game. I was looking forward to this game, but after the Beta and all the recent reviews, I think I'll be passing. Capcom should really take advantage of its western partners and ask them how to properly do online gaming. The Versus RE5 DLC and this show they still haven't got a solid grip on the whole idea of multiplayer online games.

Posted by RJPelonia

Aw, man. That's a bummer. Was really hoping good things from this game. Oh well. Thanks, Brad. Great review.

Posted by DeadMonkeys

Bummer. I've been looking forward to this game for a long time, but I'm hearing similar complaints from other outlets about the myriad of issues in LP2. 
 
I.... I guess I won't be picking it up :(

Posted by Th3dz

The first one was pretty good, but I guess it's a matter of taste. Sounds kind of terrible though. I will buy it when it goes on sale!

Posted by GunnBjorn

This is quite a disappointment. 
I truly expected a solid score on this one. 
(scraping LP2 from my wanting list)
Posted by TheLawnWrangler

yikes... might still check it out.

Posted by mosdl

Hopefully a QL of the finished game is in the works?

Posted by ELpork

Haha, wow, did not see a 2 coming.

Posted by Tordah

Damn, what a waste. This game had lots of potential, but it looks like Capcom failed in most every way.
 
Great review.

Posted by Legend

That bad, huh..

Posted by DJJoeJoe

So many old Japanese game design choices that make the game terrible, wish they would either go full boar with Japanese game traditionalism or leave it all behind, not this half baked crap trying to cater poorly to western gamers while retaining all the terrible stuff from their own gaming culture. Dead Rising has similar issues :(

Posted by ImperiousRix

The early reviews weren't looking good, but I was hoping that it was all just nitpicking. 
Seems like this game just had one too many nits, though.  Small errors can really add up in a game like this, and it looks like there are quite a few in Lost Planet 2.

Posted by Delta_Ass

Japanese gaming is so awesome.

Posted by l4wd0g

The game is effing hard without friends. I love the game so far. I can see Brad's points though. Great review Brad.

Posted by niamahai
@Linkyshinks said:
"   Yea, it's shit. The review that is.   "
"shit" is  now regarded as the highest form of praise?
like:
B.B Hood is shit in that vampire hunting game.
 
oh, you young people and your gang talk!
 
 
MEANWHILE, BACK ON TOPIC~
Lost Planet 3 to be outsource announcement. Who wanna take bets ?
Posted by neoepoch

Yeah, after reading a fair number of reviews, I can say I won't be getting Lost Planet 2 for a while. It is sad because it had a lot of potential, but it seems like it is hampered a lot by technical issues. However, I don't have a huge issue with the controls, I've played a lot of the first Lost Planet and adapted to them I guess (although they are kind of unwieldy), but the difficulty in getting online, and the very poor AI make the whole thing problematic.
 
One thing about placing priority on animation over gameplay, I know people harp on Lost Planet and Monster Hunter (my problem with MH is the lack of lock on) on that stuff, but what about Killzone 2? Granted I played way more KZ2, but when the game first came out, the it felt that the animation took priority over controls as well. Is it just way more egregious? Because Lost Planet 1 didn't feel that different from KZ2 in terms of animation versus control.

Posted by solidlife

This game had everything but Game design. 

Posted by MaddProdigy

Good thing I only gamefly'd it. With the first one I was able to look past things like unnecessarily long times  getting up  because it was one of the few pretty sweet games I owned, and there was something satisfying about blasting those weak orange points. But this review mirrors what I've read and seen elsewhere, so I'm deffinitely not purchasing number 2. I was really looking forward to this too, that online lobby feature is ridiculous.

Posted by Terjay

Sooooo... They didn't learn anything from the first one and just made it worse?

Posted by ch13696

Well it's not surprising that Capcom made it strictly co-op. Look at Resident Evil 5. I have a theory on Capcom. I believe they are mainly focusing on the competitive market. People that like competitions. Of course Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs Capcom 2 (soon 3). Look at Devil May Cry 4 and Resident Evil 5, they have leaderboards. I understand some other games do this, but I noticed that most of Capcoms games focuses on a score.

Posted by TheYear20XX

This is disheartening, I was so pumped for this game too.

Posted by TehJedicake

=(

Posted by ShaunassNZ

Holy fuck, didn't expect this.

Posted by TheHT

Sounds frustrating. I liked the controls but the whole checkpoint business can be a pain since my random teammates and I rarely ever beat the boss.
 
Really disappointed by the single player issues tohugh.

Posted by hwarang

That's so strange. When they did a QL of the beta I thought they were impressed. I didn't see this coming, even though I didn't like the first one. 

Posted by Darksaw

After reading this I'm really glad I cancelled my pre-order a couple of weeks ago.

Posted by Kiro

Well I guess this means I won't be picking up Lost Planet 2

Edited by AgentofChaos

I seriously never understood why people liked lost planet.

Edited by Brackynews

Hrm. Every game site I pay attention to is below a 75 on this one.  Looks like GB is about to be the new bottom rung on Metacritic. Looking forward to renting this, but I might keep the cheevos off my main gamercard.  
I really like that Capcom tries a lot of new things, and clings on to old things in new ways. But thankfully I'm not a shareholder. I have the luxury of shrugging my shoulders and waiting for the next go round.

Posted by Bullitus

So it is as bad as I thought it would be. Glad I didn't preorder it.

Posted by Jimbo7676

I had high hopes after seeing that giant robot. Well that is too bad.

Posted by Kintaro

I knew it would be horrible, and I was already making fart noises when people ask about it, just not this horrible. Apparently I shouldn't even poo-poo it and instead laugh at the face of the dude thinking it would even be good. Great review, Brad!

Posted by AlKusanagi

Wow, such hate. I started playing tonight, and while I've only done a couple of chapters and some online, I'm totally digging it. Yeah, the controls take some getting used to and the AI is no substitute for friends backing you up, but it's nowhere near horrible.

Posted by BombaLuigi

the game is designed arround beeing played in coop, so not taking the time and trying to actually get a coop game going (cmon, you tried for 15 minutes?), and then rate the game based on single player experience (which is awful, granted) is kinda... b(r)ad...

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