Lost Planet 2 was disappointingly awful. Even Capcom will tell you that, which is why Lost Planet 3 is such a strange title. It’s not a reboot, but it’s not a sequel to the aforementioned mishap either. Rather, it’s a prequel to the first game, and goes back in-time to help explain some of the madness.
The world of E.D.N. III is still amidst an ice age and the protagonist’s trusty mech is designed as a utility vehicle, with brutal murdering but a mere side attraction (at least, in theory). Gone, is the focus on multiplayer which crippled the second game (admittedly, I never played much of it), as Capcom looks to give fans the solo experience the franchise is crying out to deliver.
Lost Planet 3 puts us in the shoes of a cheerful chap named Jim, who tells his story through a series of seemingly insignificant short cut-scenes between the action. Our bearded hero is tasked with mining minerals that can be sent back to Earth in the unrelenting landscape of a frozen planet, where we soon learn his family is situated, awaiting his return.
The mech was central to the short hands-on demo I was given last week. At first glance, it is severely underpowered compared to what we’ve seen in the past, without even the faintest sign of a prodigious laser. However, its alien-destroying abilities should not be underestimated.
While there will presumably be upgrades as you progress, the rudimentary mech goes back to basics with a sturdy claw, and giant drill in-place of its right arm. Each is controlled by the left and right triggers respectively. Using both arms together is the key to success in battle, as you can pick up smaller foes to drill directly into their skulls, or restrain larger enemies while you attempt to mutilate the blindingly obvious glowing weak spot.
The rudimentary mech goes back to basics with a sturdy claw, and giant drill in-place of its right arm.
Jim can survive the below freezing temperatures, but the mech’s de-icing equipment only guarantees limited success. Before long, it’ll freeze up, and Jim is forced to jump out and temporally fight on-foot as an over-the-shoulder third person shooter, before removing the ice. The gunplay is fairly solid, with the option to switch between one of two weapons and tense melee moments based on timing and precision when an Akrid, the alien race, latches on for the kill.
While I didn’t get to see much of the exploration side of Lost Planet 3, its potential is what sets it apart. Jim comes across as an average, every day kind of guy, doing what is necessary to provide for his family, including exploring high risk areas without the safety of his mech.
Stomping around in a dominating giant robot is one thing, but walking around a desolate environment infested with an array of deadly creatures is a totally different prospect. At one point on-foot, Jim wandered into an abandoned research facility of some description. It had an eery Metroid Prime and Dead Space feel to it, in part because of the enemies that enjoyed latching onto Jim’s face, but also due to the sudden change of atmosphere from all-out action, to survival horror. Shamefully, I even died in this area due to my own incompetence with a shogun. It was in stark contrast to my head-drilling ways with the mech.
The combat is significantly different switching between Jim and his sweet ride, best demonstrated through fighting the same colossal scorpion-esque monster twice. I’m told this was only a mini-boss, which wasn’t great news on the back on my previous shameful death. While it took a little longer to defeat on the ground, I was more comfortable in the survival horror configuration. Perhaps due to extra experience fighting with guns and grenades in video games, rather than a drill-arm, but also due to my speed.
When I fought it again as the mech, I was grossly overpowered by comparison, but was never comfortable laboring around in the bulky robot. While I could have been crushed on-foot, I had the capacity to dodge its attacks and run around to its weak points. The potential suggests that fighting as the much stronger mech won’t always be the best option; sometimes you may find more success by jumping out and doing it the old fashion way. Although, I must admit, there was satisfaction to had by ripping its arm off and drilling into its brain, after mucking around with grenades and those gosh-darned things called tactics.
Lost Planet 3 is still a while away, with a release scheduled for sometime in 2013. It’s too early to speculate if the final version will get the series back on track, but with a badass mech and a Dead Space inspired feel to the survival horror elements, early signs are promising and it's one to keep a close eye on.
By Ben Salter - Bio