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A cold frigid land awaits us in the brink of the black canvas. Wait… isn't this Lost Planet? Isn't this EDN III? Well yeah it is, but… it's tropical! That's right, the second installment of the Lost Planet series takes us back to EDN III to envision a lush tropical land that was hidden under all that snow in the first one… who would've thought that under all that snow we'd actually find something that cool? Well back to the point, this game has been long in the making and a couple demos have come to surface themselves from the ashes of the Capcom's anticipated sequel to their hit multiplayer game from 2006, but the question still lingers… was the wait even worth all the hot anticipation?
Everything has had some sort of change in the past few years for the sequel. A lot is sort of an understatement since I last checked… and it really boils down to how you see everything. Some of the changes were for better, some were just downright periling and it kind of makes you want to scream in pain. I walked into the game with an open mind and wasn't expecting too much as the first one for me was really a screwball hint of illustrious joy. I enjoyed multiplayer and was up in the air with singleplayer when I got my hands in on the first one, but I couldn't help but be disappointed with a few elements with the first game, and they didn't really fix it in the sequel (kind of breaks off that sequel monotony, instead of fixing problems, they just exacerbate them!).
First off it was story… god I don't know where to begin because both of the games stories could've been much better than I anticipated. In the first one, they played it simple and put you in this… Jason Bournish type of story where this dude was all like…
'Yo, I can't remember and stuff!' And then this Yuri dude was all like...
'Yo, want to be my friend and work for my evil ass?' And then your dude was all like…
'Sure.' Then it turns into this sappy story about corruption with NEVEC and eventually you push them off world or something. You don't meet interesting characters (it almost seems in every Capcom game, they have to have a really sexy female lead, which disappoints me because I'm a Mass Effect fan and it just makes me shrug in shame nowadays.)
In this one, they throw all that out. Forget what you have seen and say hello to screwball story economics with your host… TRISTAN WONG! You want to know how to really help screw with your audience? Cut the story up and put the player into different shoes of the hero, have them play a story through the eyes of someone else every few chapters and see what happens. Yeah, the story is too choppy and nothing seems to motivate the player for you to continue pushing on through this irritating campaign--you have to appreciate their effort though, I really did like the idea. At the end of the day really, it's a hit or miss affair and it would've been an interesting trick if they actually developed it a little more… if they had characters (good ones!) to work with, I probably would've cared to finish the damn campaign (couldn't live with myself after a few chapters).
Now let's continue, I said the story is cut up into chapters that put you in different civil warring factions (You probably guessed it, fight for resources… overdone, or in this case, T-ENG…). It sort of reminds you of the Call of Duty setup, you know where they put you in different perspectives of the same war? Well the concept doesn't work too well in this game as again… characters, characters! Some irritate as the AI is just redundant, leading you to stare at your team mates play checkers with the soldiers who attempt to kill you. And hey, what the hell just let them break dance on the floor with the foe because they won't bother shooting at one another--I'm sure the seizures will stop soon, as soon as these pirates get some health benefits at some point… damn you Capcom, give these good men the life insurance they deserve!
But hey, the fun doesn't stop there--the kicker really is the questionable level design. Tight corridor crawls and terrible check points lead to holes in the wall (I kicked my closet door out of frustration, trust me… get a stress ball!). I got roughly… ¾ of the way through the game before I just gave up and wrote this (I don't like easy modes!). The train level in particular will make you pull your hair out… tight corridor crawl through a train with no railings with Akrid bugs swarming the deck… yeah, the number of times I've been kicked off deck led me to belch loudly in anger, I even cussed at an old man across the way… not particularly proud of that one, but anyways.
The story is choppy, the level design is questionable at best… but there is one thing that kept me at an even keel through the singleplayer game and it was the boss battles (oddly enough). They were pretty f***ing frustrating, but it was so flashy, so cool, and so intense (in its own way) that I couldn't just sit there without saying, 'Dude… that was pretty rad stuff right there.' Another thing that kept my mind at ease was yes… the change in environment. The snow environment was cool and has serves inspiration for some literary prose that I write today (this is a gaming site, not a creative writing class… you want it? You ask for it.), but even that got a little boring and when I heard about the lush tropical setting, I shat a few bricks and gave the nearest person to me a massive hug.
The tropical setting is laminated just right and everything has a colorful image. Everything lit like a Christmas tree with the dense foliage that help to make for some tense encounters with a variety of foe you may face in the game itself. The lighting should receive some commencements as the bright shower light is nothing but a spectacle to see when you get to see it all in brilliant HD. Brilliant animation helps immersion, and the neat motion blur makes for some wild scenes in some encounters. The sense of scale of environments should receive something in here as you feel the world is much more expansive than you are. The lumbering Akrid tower over you and the only way to get up to where they roam is through the use of… the GRAPPLING HOOK! (Note: This mechanic got rid of the jump… dammit).
Even with the story being all sliced and diced, there is something in this game that makes it… somewhat good? And… you guessed it, multiplayer. There is an indefinable charm that makes this games multiplayer component just… rad. I can't describe it, maybe it's the shooting itself? Or maybe it's just the tensity in the slow pace of the game itself. The slow deliberate movement of the games shooting mirrors its companion, Resident Evil 5 very closely, so forget the shooting mechanics of many third person games as this will just throw you out the window with the rest of your skills from Gears of War, or Uncharted, or whatever you kids play around with nowadays. The expansive environments of the games multiplayer helps pave way for intense VS battles (Vital Suits), which are giant mechs with giant guns.
But while this can be a cool idea, it's also a huge burden for newcomers as professionals who take this game uber seriously can just dominate the big maps with a sniper rifle in hand (which is absolutely ridiculous)--try and counter snipe, the dense foliage helps conceal them and you'll likely just end up a lampshade in some guys creepy apartment. Lost Planet multiplayer can be tense though if you have no campers and just duke it out old fashioned with deathmatch, etc… but there are things to unlock throughout the multiplayer layout. You can get new character models, and new things to customize you character with like Lego heads, etc--gee whiz man, I wonder where the Lego head came from… (Frank West? Ring a bell?)
Coop was another thing that made this game stand out in my mind and in some ways the partying up of members of the Live community (PSN community) help alleviate frustrations in the campaign as you can help stress by replacing poor level AI with competent (maybe they aren't so much?) beings who can at least be used as T-ENG pack mules for you. The mechanics work as your team can supply you with T-ENG and such, you can even ride a god-damn VS with four people, on or offline, multiplayer or coop, awesome. And last but not least… sound design… My god, you can't help but say something good about the sound design as it just makes you want to awe at its magnificence. The machine gun, the shotgun, the minigun, the laser gun, the rocket launcher, the energy rifle… EVERYTHING has got a sound overhaul and it sounds absolutely brilliant. The power exhibited by the sound matches the power of the weapon itself, that nice bassy tone of the rifle just seems perfect and often you'll probably find yourself shooting at nothing but the foliage to see the leaves move… and to hear the crack of the rifle yet again. The Akrid don't sound any different than from the last game, and they still have that mean screech I've associated with them for years. The signature stomp of their march still sends shivers down my spine when I walk around that corridor, and the murmurs of enemy troops still gets to me (especially when the checkpoints are so far apart that dying in this game is actually something to worry about). The crunch of leaves, the clank of planks, and the skiddled sounds of troopers walking across the catwalk still sounds as convincing as ever and walking EDN III again makes me glad that I got to see my old honey back on the screen.
Lost Planet isn't totally lost and it makes for a great THX experience, along with the cinematic flourishes in the engine to boot that make this game a worthy treat for those who want to test out their home theatre system. Singleplayer is just too frustrating and the multiplayer, while perfectly competent is just tattered with too many small problems that make it feel barren. Even with unlaggy games (even if you are across the seas playing with someone on the other side of the world), hardcore gamers, big maps, slow pacing, old shooting mechanics make this game really hard to recommend outside of a rental. Coop ain't fun, singleplayer ain't fun, multiplayer is a hit and miss… if you want mileage, get a home theatre, otherwise… just wait till the price comes waaaaaaaaaaaaay down!