Lost Planet 3 is the third (if you hadn’t already guessed) title in Capcom’s third-person shooter series set on the foreign planet known as E.D.N III. The game itself is a prequel set many years before the 1st and 2nd title. This is quite apparent considering that E.D.N III is a tropical planet in LP2 and yet here we are standing in the middle of ice fields, snowstorms and glaciers.
The first game was released when the Xbox 360 was quite young in its inception. The game was flawed, like many of the time, but it was still relatively enjoyable. It was pretty successful and helped breed the second game in the series. Lost Planet 2 was somewhat of a non-starter, whilst you had co-op modes and an extremely long campaign, general design issues made it unplayable and thus it was destined for the dreaded bargain bin.
So enough of the old and onto the new. Lost Planet 3 puts you in the shoes of Jim Peyton, a run-of-the-mill colonist doing his best to earn a few extra Akrid bucks providing for his family many light years away. He has his rig ‘ol’ Riggy’ which, unlike the mechs seen in previous games, has no military themed weapons attached. Instead you’re left controlling a machine which has drills for arms and a poor selection of country and western tunes running through its cockpit courtesy of Peytons wife.
In an attempt to make you connect with Jim’s story you’ll witness numerous ‘awkward’ video messages sent between him and his wife. I doubt very much that many will pay much attention to the story. It’s not all that unique. This is most obvious when you look at how you make your money in the game. After killing an Akrid foe you simply walk over to the dead alien’s body and scavenge from the carcass. It somewhat reminds me of how you find items in the newest Tomb Raider. Nothing new there then.
The game starts off with NEVEC as the good guys. For those that have played the original games you’ll remember that NEVEC was of course the antagonists. NEVEC is attempting to make E.D.N III habitable for humans, this is done via thermal posts which you help to setup throughout the planet. In exchange you are naturally rewarded with currency (T-Eng). As the game twists and turns you’ll soon start to see how Spark Unlimited have interweaved LP3 and LP1 so you get a small understanding as to why NEVEC became the bad guys.
Moving onto gameplay we can start to look at the good and bad, starting with the good. I’ll start with the new utility Rigs, which I think are a nice change of pace in LP3. The Mechs seen in previous instalments were all about fire power, where now Rigs are more tuned to exploration and research. You can happily pop in and out of your Rig at almost any given time. A nice feature seen in LP3 is the umbilical range now associated with your Rig. Once you step out of this umbilical zone you lose your HUD, including your radar leaving you somewhat blind. Also health and ammo packs, which can be taken from your Rig within said zone, are also now unavailable. It is a great little touch, and makes a usually easy decision to go for a wander a little harder to make.
The importance of your Rig is best felt quite early in the game when it freezes over leaving you to fight an endless amount of panther-esque Akrid’s. As you’re forced outside in an attempt to remove the ice encasing your rig you almost feel the chilled air rushing past your face. When you eventually clear the debris again you get an almost warming, safe sensation as you are once again sitting high up in the relative comfort and safety of your mechanical bot.
Your Rig can also be used to smash away ice, moving hydraulic pumps and pressing really big buttons. Sadly, despite the supposed plethora of uses available, it does start to feel too scripted. When deploying into the cold air to un-jam a giant door it just never feels like you’re doing anything overly difficult.
Visually speaking I would say the game is above average. Nothing special but it just about does the job. The cut-scenes look pretty cool, but those pre-actual-gameplay cut scenes are really clunky with vocals and lip movements rarely matching. Inside the rigs looks pretty awesome, and when you’re swinging away with the giant drill arm that’s when Lost Planet 3 is at its best. The planet itself is also fairly picturesque. The colonial home that NEVEC has created is a nice little maze of walkways littered with the early signs of a human habitat. Precisely what the plot is asking for.
Using the games visuals as a stepping stone I can start to look at why this game is ultimately pretty poor. The Akrid are fairly lifeless. Whilst games generally pump all their energy into the characters and enemies leaving the terrain thread bare, Spark has done the opposite. E.D.N looks awe-inspiring, the Akrid look dull, lifeless and unbelievable in their design.
The main characters also look somewhat basic. With the Xbox 360 as old as it is now, and having produced many gems visually speaking, you’d expect much better from the likes of Capcom, but sadly this isn’t the case.
A major gripe with Lost Planet 3 is that just when you think the game is gaining momentum, getting exciting, you’re hit with one of countless loading screens littered throughout the game. No one likes loading screens and Spark have basically destroyed the game by putting in so many of them.
When your loading screen eventually disappears you’re left with an extremely linear planet. I was hoping for a nice sand-box third person shooter. When a game’s plot revolves around a planet what do you want to do? Explore it. Lost Planet 3 doesn’t let you do this, and like a few games that have passed my way, you’re left feeling like a train chugging away on a pre-determined track.
The combat is far to scripted as well. You face off against an armoured Akrid, wait for him to open his mouth, shoot, rinse and repeat. These are aliens, something humans have never laid their eyes on before. Why can’t they be more random? There are a good variety of enemies on show, but they all follow the same patterns. Much like a line of ants carrying leaf cuttings into its nest, the Akrid seem to simply follow one another towards your shotgun barrel, almost expecting the worst. In fairness that’s unfair on ants, they’re smart little critters, I would say that the Akrid are more like Alien cows, drunkenly stumbling their way to a NEVEC employee’s dinner plate.
When you do kill the various cows Akrid within the game the Thermal Energy (this is the currency mentioned earlier) can help you buy new weapons and upgrades. Be it a brand new shotgun or a bigger magazine. There is a good choice of weapons available but again you’d expect something more from these little un-licensed stores. All I ever wanted to do was give Jim a haircut, surely one of these stores could have helped me out?
The game does have the addition of a 5 vs 5 multiplayer. This falls short of what you’d expect, 12 mechs on 12 would have been a much better option. With your four team mates you can play a choice of either Team Deathmatch, Extraction, which involves fighting over Thermal Points, and finally Akrid Survival, which puts you against endless swarms of Akrid.
Ultimately the original Lost Planet had its issues. Despite this, many (including myself) enjoyed playing it. Lost Planet 2 was rubbish and Lost Planet 3 sadly sits in the same seat as it’s pre-decessor. I love the new Rigs, they were a great idea and the lack of weapons is a great addition (well not an addition but you get where I’m coming from) to the game. That being said the game is far too linear, the enemies are too robotic and the general atmosphere within the game leaves you sitting there wondering why you paid £40 for this title.
Prequels have been over-done anyway, but I’ll give you one tip that will help you enjoy this game 3x as much as you should do. When you get past the first boss and have finished collecting all your Thermal Energy, instead of going back to base straight away you can get a new Rig with an RPG attachment. All you have to do is…*LOADING SCREEN*.