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Review

Review: Lost Planet 2

Two's company.

Lost Planet was a relative success for Capcom when originally released on the Xbox 360 but as is the way in today’s high budget climate, to succeed the sequel is going to have to pull something quite special out the bag to stand out amongst the likes of Modern Warfare 2 and Bad Company 2. So, hopes are high here – as fans of the first game – that Lost Planet 2 is a return to form for Capcom, strong enough to succeed on its own merit in a heavily populated shooter market.

The first thing that hits you when you first start the game is that it’s built not just with multiplayer in mind, but it’s actually difficult to find the single player option.  Whether you are taking part in the campaign mode or the more traditional multiplayer route and battling it out as part of two teams, the option to actually play the game on your own is rather hidden amonst all the configuration options – Lost Planet 2 is touted as an online co-op affair, with the console playing the part of your squad if you’re not online.

There’s even a countdown before the game starts, as if you’re waiting for the computer to confirm he’s ready too.

Once you’re into a game, though, it’s all a little more obvious.  Lost Planet 2 splits its story into episodes, each of which tell the tale of five different groups of snow pirates from around the Planet of EDN III. Each of the chapters within the episodes will lead you through their individual stories, although to be honest it’s unlikely to be the story that will hook you into this game. Instead that privilege falls to the excellent gameplay and the way in which it embraces social ideologies thanks to its excellent co-operative structure.

When you start the campaign you can either choose to play a quick match and be thrown in online into the level with PSN friends or strangers, or you can customise a match and start play from the level of your choice. You will not be able to join an friend on a level you have not completed, of course, but this isn’t a problem because if you set up a match and no-one is online at your particular level the game will just fill in for the other three players in your squad until someone joins you. If you have someone at home to play with then you also have the option of playing split-screen co-op, which works just as well.

Whilst the game’s online multiplayer works really well, with each squad member helping out his teammates, the solitary campaign is distinctly less interesting.  The experience is nowhere near as fun and in fact there are some levels where you will end up finding it difficult to progress as your AI teammates fail to take out turrets with any intelligence, leaving the enemies firing directly at you and therefore almost impossible to take out with any subtlety or skill.

Regardless, the levels themselves are wonderfully varied, ranging from luscious jungles, deserts and even a rather intense battle on a train. Throughout each level you will be met with foot soldiers, mechs and all manner of weapons such as turrets and grenades to root out the campers. Thankfully though you  have a few tricks up your sleeve, such as the ability to heal yourself (and your squad) using T-ENG, the game’s versatile energy mechanic.  T-ENG is gained via stations which are spread through the lands and also by collecting the coloured blobs from downed enemies.

Another advantage you have is that you can find weapons of your own such as rocket launchers, gum grenades, rifles, Gatling guns and even empty mech suits which you can get in, activate and use to boster your team considerably. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of wearing what the game calls a “V-Suit” in Lost Planet 2 and using its power to take out the enemy.  Interestingly, some V-suits allow for more than one person to sit in them simultaneously, meaning that your co-op partner can hitch a ride while firing his weapon at the same time.

As well as the standard missions you are trying to complete, the game will also gives you “good job” side missions, nice diversions that range from things like getting a certain amount of headshots and not losing any teammates to more bizarre things like shooting out windows. Completing these sub-missions awards you with credits for a fruit machine which then allows you to earn random weapons for your character and also things like emotes and pieces of costume.

The gameplay itself is great fun, with plenty of explosions filling the screen and endless stacks of enemies to take down, with the only sticking point the grappling hook mechanic, which is meant to make the flow of navigating a level quicker but tends to see you falling into chasms more often than we’d have liked.  The loss of Battle Points, the game’s shared amount of re-useable life, for falls is frustrating, and frequently tests your patience.  When your team runs out of Battle Points there’s no more respawning, and the mission will fail, resulting in a restart of the chapter.

Each episode is split into various chapters, which act as checkpoints.  However, these checkpoints can be quite far apart, and if you lose all your Battle Points the way the game dumps you back at the beginning of the last chapter can be soul destroying.  For example, on the aforementioned train level I spent hours trying to get to the end of the chapter, then just as I reached the end my character fell from the train. So even though I had taken out all the enemies and had practically finished the level, I had to start all the way back at the beginning of the chapter again. Very frustrating.

On a more positive note, some of the enemies you fight against, especially the Akrids, the indigenous alien life form that the game is based around, are really of epic proportions. Taking these monsters down can require at least a half hour of your time due to their sheer size and strength, with some great staged battles throughout the game.  I remember the feeling of relief I had in taking down a huge Akrid only to see him respawn and regain all his health, that wasn’t a good day at the office I can tell you.

Visually, the graphics really are stunning, although there are occasionally a few issues with the framerate juddering when things get a bit hectic on screen which spoils the experience slightly. All in though you won’t be complaining because this is one ride you won’t want to miss.

As well as the campaign mode, the game also includes a Training mode and also an online multiplayer competitive mode. Multiplayer provides the usual suspects really, except with added V-Suits to spice things up a bit. Game modes included online are Elimination, Team Elimination and Post Grab and all of the modes are fun to play and the maps are very well designed and should provide plenty of life for gamers fond of third person shooters. For me though, this game is all about the campaign mode.

Pros:

  • Fantastic action
  • Co-op aodes for whole campaign
  • Great graphics
  • Huge creatures

Cons:

  • Framerate dips occasionally
  • Frustrating continue points
  • Grappling could be better

Lost Planet 2 is an epic game and its one that any fan of multiplayer co-operative action will not want to miss. This game has it all, big weapons, bigger enemies, flying V-Suits, grenade launchers, what’s not to love really? Sure it has a few issues, but once you are into the action chances are you’ll soon let these pass you by.

Score: 8/10


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