Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (360) – Review

Lost Planet - Cover Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, produced by Capcom for the 360, was a highly anticipated title, due to two relatively new concepts: a world based on snow and ice, and the use of mechanical suits in addition to typical gameplay aspects. Unfortunately, the overall single player game really lacks any meat or challenging gameplay, leaving this title to mostly as a somewhat unique multiplayer game, but otherwise a lackluster title.

Story: C-

While there’s a story to tie the game together, it’s mostly glue to explain why you are working through the various levels. The game takes place on the planet of EDN III, a human colony on a perpetually cold world, which is unfortunately shared by large insect-like beings known as Akrids. While the Akrids are hostile, their bodies contain a unique substance that stores precious thermal energy that can be used for numerous power sources, and thus they continue the fight against the life form to get that energy, which has also lead to corporate dominance and so-called Snow Pirates that fight against them. The story picks up at some point where a young man, Wayne, regains conscious but has lost his memory beyond that his father died fighting an incredibly large Akrid. Along with people that are against the disastrous plans that the NEVAC corporation has for the planet, Wayne proceeds to search for the Akrid in hopes to find some information for the better good of the planet. The story is primarily told through pre-rendered cut scenes between the levels and really has very little behind it, particularly as some of the basic concepts are similar to recent games (like Gears of War).

Gameplay: B

Lost Planet - MechaThe gameplay is primarily a third person shooter with a few twists, but nothing drastically new. A good portion of time, you’re on foot, which you can carry two weapons (nothing exotic) and a set of grenades; you also have access to a grappling hook which allows you to reach to higher platforms. However, throughout the game are special Vital Suits (VSs) which are basically simple mecha type machines, each which you can load up with two armaments, and each type has several different abilities, such as jumping or drilling, or even transforming between two different forms. A somewhat unique aspect of the game is the thermal energy counter. While outside, your suit or VS is continually protecting use and using up thermal energy, along with some energy weapons. If you’re on foot and take a lot of damage, you’ll also recover that by using up thermal energy. However, once you run out of thermal energy, you’ll take health damage until you die. Thus, it’s necessary to collect thermal energy from any source you can find; the Akrids, drops from dead foes, or as stored in tanks around the level. Also, special checkpoints (which also indicate where you need to go next once you activate them) give you a thermal energy bonus as well as provide a point to return to if you do die. VS suits take damage and you need to get out or eject before they explode as well.

The enemies generally come in three types – human soldiers on foot equipped with similar weapons as you, human-control Vital Suits, and the Akrid. The AI for the game is subpar – the enemy forces use no special tactics against you, and it’s just a matter of their numbers against your one single self. A unique aspect that helps during boss battles is that every Akrid has a weak spot indicated in yellow, which, after repeated injuries, will slowly go to red before the creature is defeated, after which they turn into ice and then shatter. However, the same can’t be said for VS suits – you can only guess how close they are to being defeated based on the amount of smoke that is coming out of it. Most of the time, the game is pretty easy, though I did have a few points that I just had to repeat carefully, knowing where enemies and numbers were so I could get by the sections.

Value/Replayability: B-

The single player game is otherwise very lacking. There’s only 11 missions, each with about 2 or 4 sublevels within them, and all ending predictably in a boss fight. With each level taking about 30 to 45 minutes to complete, you’re looking at a total playtime of less than 8 hrs for the whole game, which is rather disappointing. Given the weak story, the whole single player experience leaves a lot to be desired. While there are 4 difficulty levels (I played on ‘Normal’, with 2 more difficulty levels above that), the highly repetitive nature and shortness of the game doesn’t comple me to try the game again.

Fortunately, multiplayer allows for 16 players to play through XBox Live in both ranked and quick matches. The game modes include both individual and team deathmatch, a Onslaught-type mode to hold all the posts in the map, and a Fugitive mode where one person avoids being taken down by the other players before time is up. As opposed to normal deaths, all the games use a Battle Gauge, which goes up for kills and other beneficial actions, and down for deaths and the like; the end of a match is indicated when the Battle Gauge for a player or team is at zero. Team games can allow for up to 4 teams to play. The game also allows you to mask your voice if you’re using the headset.

Graphics: B

Lost Planet - Explosion screenshotThe game’s graphics feel like a generation behind – the textures are highly repetitive (it is a snow-covered planet, so instead of the browns and grays, it’s mostly white and grays) and the polygon count for some models seems rather low, doing little to stress the 360 but making it feel like a PS2 game. One aspect in Lost Planet’s favor is the explosives and smoke after rockets and grenades go off, which look rather realistic and do a good job of blocking your vision for a few moments before they dissipate. Those that were considered about small text as from Dead Rising will be glad to know that the issues has been fixed in Lost Planet.

Sound: C

Sound is adequate but nothing special. The music is pretty much average, though sound effects of battle are decent. The voice acting during cutscenes leaves much to be desired, but that could be the fact that I really could not get into the story one bit.

Overall: C

I can’t say too much that I’m disappointed with Lost Planet; the original 360 demo seemed ok but certainly nothing comparable to something like Gears of War or even Call of Duty 3. However, the fact that there could have been a lot more with this title, which provided a rather unique setting and the use of mecha, but fell flat for single player really hurts this game. The multiplayer aspect is interesting and probably what will keep you coming back to play this, but other, more challenging games, have similar multiplayer modes and may make this forgettable. Lost Planet isn’t a failed effort, just half-hearted and lacking throughout the game.

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One Response

  1. Great review, Masem. I haven’t picked it up myself but I probably won’t in the end either, though I did play the demo which in itself was a pretty good demo in my opinion, it’s just not a game that really appeals to me.

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