Tech News on G4
'Lost Planet 2' fails big
Aug 25, 2010
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
The tagline for Lost Planet 2 is 'kill big'. Turns out Capcom did a spectacular, monumental, and grandiose job at sabotaging its own game, a game that could have been one of the greatest action titles so far in the 21st century.
Lost Planet 2 begins about a decade after the events of the first game and takes place on the same planet, E.D.N. III. This is a much different world though than it was 10 years ago though. Whereas much of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition featured vast expanses of snowy environments, E.D.N. III has since been terraformed to be more habitable, so you'll now mostly be running through warm environments, whether it be lush jungles or sun-seared deserts.
You actually start the game as a snow pirate traversing a snow-covered desert, but the next level takes you to an aforementioned jungle. The first time you crest a hill in an airplane during a CGI cutscene and see the dense vegetation for the first time is a stunning moment indeed. A shame that the gameplay can't live up to Lost Planet 2's AAA production values.
What hasn't changed is that the E.D.N. III is still chalk full of countless massive enemies known as akrid. There isn't a ton of strategy involved while playing Lost Planet 2 - just shoot, and shoot, and shoot some more. There's no shortage of guns, extra ammunition, or mechs to hop into along the way. This is the part of the game that hits the mark when it comes to being fun.
The problem with the campaign is that it's meant to be played co-operatively with a total of up to four players. Co-op in and of itself is an absolute blast, but if you don't have at least a couple of other live players, you're pretty much screwed. The game goes from being absolutely awesome, to being frustrating, overly-challenging and repetitive.
First off, the friendly AI in Lost Planet 2 is some of the worst we've seen in this generation of games (and we're thinking many 8-bit era games possessed better AI). Though lots of shooting is involved, every level also has objectives that is best completed using the help of multiple players.
For instance, early on you'll infiltrate an enemy camp and have to first activate a set of four signals, and once that's done, activate four drills and keep them on for a set amount of time. While this is happening, enemies are flooding into the camp and not only shooting at you, but turning off the drills. With four human players defending the drills, it's a piece of cake, but if you're unlucky enough to get partnered with computer-controlled allies, what should take only a few minutes turns into something that will have you ready to throw your controller (and any other nearby objects) across the room.
Not only do your teammates refuse to activate the signals or the drills, they're almost as useless when it comes to actually killing enemies. Like many other moments in the game, you'll be stuck doing all the work, and it doesn't take long for these objectives to become monotonous and annoying.
There's more though. Capcom made the process of actually linking up to online players frustrating as well. There are six chapters in the game, each of which is split up into sub-levels. If, for instance, you play through and finish level 3-2 before turning your system off, the next time you come back, you won't be allowed to join a session in level 3-3. Since you haven't actually played any of that level yet, you're forced to join a game in level 3-2 or earlier, effectively making you play through a section of the game you've already completed.
Of course you could always create your own game to start at level 3-3, but then you're at the mercy of waiting for other players to jump in. Unless you have three buddies who have the game, and have all played through up to the point where you're currently at, you'll have to get together with randoms online, and we all know that often these people are either very impatient, or don't work well as a team.
And that's the other point - Lost Planet 2 demands impeccable teamwork, with anything less resulting in a lot of death and replaying of levels. Even staying alive is confusing. First, you have a thermal energy gauge that is constantly depleting. You can refill it by stepping over the glowing orange energy that enemies drop once they're killed, or by shooting canisters that hold the stuff throughout the levels. Once that 'T-ENG' gauge drops to zero, a player's individual life gauge will then start to deplete whenever they take damage. Once that drops down to zero, there's then the 'Battle Gauge' to keep track of. This is basically a life gauge that's shared between the entire team that drops down any time one of the four players dies. If enough players die, the Battle Gauge goes to zero, and it's game over. Keep in mind there are some really cheap sections where it's quite easy to make one misstep and die instantly.
We go back to our original point now - when there are three or four like-minded human players battling through Lost Planet 2, it's an absolute blast. It's challenging but mostly fair, with all kinds of epic boss fights. Whether you're hurtling through a desert on a train with a behemoth monster eating one train car after another, taking on a pair of twin akrid in an abandoned town, or blasting away at a mech while you're controlling a three-person mech of your own, Lost Planet 2 has no shortage of watercooler moments. It's just frustrating that so many factors need to be met before the game actually becomes fun.
What saves Lost Planet 2 somewhat is the competitive multiplayer portion. It's very similar to the first game, which itself was one of the better multiplayer games in 2007. All the typical gametypes make an appearance, including the self-explanatory Elimination and Data Post battle, where you earn points by activating and controlling several nodes throughout the level.
Where Lost Planet 2 differs from its predecessor is that there's a Modern Warfare-esque rewards system that has you levelling up after every round played. It's well done and does what it's supposed to do, making the player want to keep playing just until they reach that next level.
The multiplayer levels are just as gorgeous as those found in the campaign, and are full of plenty of ammo and mechs. They also encourage moving about both horizontally and vertically, adding all kinds of strategy to a team that is willing to think beyond the muzzle of their gun.
Capcom seems to really be embracing the co-operative aspect of gaming that has exploded in popularity in recent years. That's to be commended, but the actual mechanics of a game that demands four-player co-op has to be near-perfect. It tried a full co-op game with Resident Evil 5 in 2009, and while it wasn't without its problems, it worked well because only two players were needed, not four.
As it turns out, Lost Planet 2 is a missed opportunity. There's an amazing game hidden on its disc, but it's dropped down to barely mediocre status because of the problems with the most essential aspect of the game, the co-op.
Lost Planet 2
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