I fondly remember playing Lost Planet 1 for the Xbox 360. Sure, it was only a demo that I played at a Best Buy, but it sure as hell stuck on me: Epic skirmishes with bugs, awesome anchor mechanics, and the boss fights all made me believe even more in getting a 360 (that and GRAW1, but that's a different story) at the time. However, I didn't get a 360 until way later, and now that I have, I totally forgot all about LP1, so when I heard of a LP2 coming out, I knew that I had to get it. Problem was, not a lot of people was fond of the first game and decided that this game (LP2) was to redeem the series. I bought the game to redeem myself, but now as I'm reviewing it, is it worth the so called redemption, or is it destined to be redeemed for a couple of bucks?
Not an actual case; couldn't find any
Story and Presentation
It's been 10 years since the events of Wayne's fight against NEVEC on E.D.N. 3, but you didn't really need to know that. In fact, despite being called Lost Planet 2 (which is really supposed to be called Lost Planet squared considering the fact that the 2 is actually an exponent as stated in the interview), this game requires almost no knowledge of the last game besides the fact that this place used to be a snow barren wasteland.... and now it's not. That's not to say that there is no story, just a very simple one... at least, once you understand it...
The story isn't a narrative like in the first game where you see Wayne's story, but rather, you see the game throughout multiple perspectives. The game is divided into 6 episodes (and in chapters, and within chapters, missions), all barely connecting to the each other. You play as multiple factions as you run through campaigns, but you're really only playing as Ex-NEVEC characters since you play as them the most (twice to be exact) and that they were the most significant. You're only the Rounders, Waysiders (a group within the Rounders), and the Fight Junkies for one episode, leaving the Ex-NEVAC team to lead the show (twice, although you do get to play as actual NEVAC operatives for an episode).
Hot, humid forests... I kinda miss the white snow, eh?
That means the story is only loosely connected, and not in a good way. It's more of a story of coincidence: One episode has characters failing to capture an enemy weapon only to be captured by someone else in the next episode as they overlook something that isn't fought until the last episode. Sure, there are some pretty interesting tidbits, but really, the story is largely forgettable. In fact, it isn't the story itself that'll stick with you, but rather what you'll be doing.
This game is all about the monsters, called Akrids, and the game knows it. Rather than caring about why you're shooting these monsters, you care more about actually shooting down these behemoths, and the monsters take center stage. Sure, you'll be fighting the standard grunts and VS (or mechs), but make no doubt about it: The Akrids are the real reason why you're here. I must mention that the story really feels like an over hyped action movie: Heavy on the action, light on the plot. The whole game feels like one epic scene after another, and that's a good thing. However, unlike a movie, you actually get to play something, so now about the game play....
He tries to eat you, so you retaliate by... entering his stomach... huh...
Now, the levels in this game (missions to be exact) are to pretty much move from point A to B, shooting everything in your path. It's pretty fun, even when alone, to just shoot everything in sight, letting your instincts take over as you run and gun, but there's also different things you can do like activating data posts. Data posts are essentially respawn points, so activating them not only gives you a new place to come back to, but it also increases the Battle Gauge, which is pretty much the lives count. So while most of the time these are optional to activate, there's really no reason not to, and it's better than running all the way back to the fight.
Speaking of running, you do have the option to sprint, but you also have this very useful tool called the Anchor that serves as a grappling hook. It's very simple to use and it's very fun to abuse: All you do is point at a surface and press a button, which then allows your person to grapple to the surface. There's usually things like stairs and ladders that you can take, but it's much more fun to just swing around places like a ghetto Spider Man. In fact, I had so much fun using it (and being as lazy that I am) that I wish it was in every game (my dumbass self tried using the anchor button in Modern Warfare because I was lazy).
Something else to do while fighting (if you can find them) is to use the VS mechs scattered around. You can use a variety of mechs from the standard AT-ST looking mech to the awesome PTX-140 Hardballer (showcased in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom), and there's even a mech that can be combined with another mech! There is a downside to using mechs however: Getting one destroyed will force a hit on the battle gauge, and getting yourself killed due to the explosion (sometimes you can't eject) will mean that you take a second hit. Other than that, it's pretty easy to control and, with the right type of weapons, can be an absolute necessity to a mission.
If they have propellers on their backs, why don't they just fly away?
Something to note about this game is that it has 8 control schemes, and with good reason: No matter which one you pick, there's going to be something that feels a little odd. For example, I used the default controls and it mapped like 4 things to the B/ O button: Melee, sprinting, activating things, and entering mechs. That means if you’re near something and you wanna run, you might just melee the air and get hit by a sniper, or if you're trying to huddle around a data post with your allies, you may accidently smack them off the data post, making you look like a douche for a brief second. Sure, there's many control schemes, but none of them feel natural: It's all of a matter of preference.
Speaking of preferences, people generally love to play with other people, and within good reason: This game is designed for co-op, and you'll be damned if you don't play it that way. Sure, the A.I. teammates are actually somewhat useful (since they offer firepower AND that their deaths won't result in a hit of the battle gauge), but make no mistake; you want other people to play with you. I mean, not only does it make the game easier; it's also way more fun than playing it by yourself. I love being able to run through a level in record time with pro teammates and seeing who did the most work out of all of us, and I definitely appreciate the costume mechanic (that I'll touch on later).
Gears of War's Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago... chainsaw lancer not included
Extras, online and final thoughts
One of my favorite things in video games that don't appear too often is character customization. Sure, I like changing the color of my armor like Halo 3 or what guns I wanna in my class a la Modern Warfare 2, but in games like Soul Calibur 4 and Modnation Racers where you can totally customize your characters, AND see them in cut-scenes, are a definite treat to me, so imagine how pumped up I was when I heard that upon beating the game, you can not only bring a customized character into story campaign, but he (or she, although it's awkward seeing the character as she still acts like a man) will appear in the cut-scenes!
That means two things: One, all the cut-scenes are in-game (and still amazingly beautiful at that) and two, this game allows you to become attached to your own character. While the story was action packed, I did find it hard to connect to the characters considering that they seemingly have no personality (or faces considering that most of them have a mask on), but on the design side, I loved that your character can appear in cut-scenes, making it feel like it's you. I can't tell you how many times I played this game just to see how my new character would look, or what he will be doing. The story treats the four players as actors, and being able to customize your 'actor' is a really nice touch, especially when you are the player who does the cool stunts (which is mostly player 1). This not only gives a little more replay, but playing online gives it more replayability since you can see certain scenes in a different perspective since you're a different player. Sure, maybe I'm overhyping it, but seeing how many games do this (or feature cross over: PS3 owners gets 2 Helghast skins from Killzone and a Rathalos Armor from Monster Hunter while the 360 fans will get Gear heads Marcus Fenix, Dom Santiago, and photographer Frank West from Dead Rising), it's hard not to.
The famous Rathalos Armor from Monster Hunter, without the grinding!
However, I must mention that sadly, since newer and better games are out (I myself have spent over 50 hours on MGS: Peace Walker, and even might have a review (after I get the second, true ending) when I'm not playing P3P), at the time of writing, online has really come and go. Sure, if you play online co-op (the main draw of the game), you'll still see the diehard pros or the new novices, but there's no denying that the online feels a lil' empty, especially considering competitive multiplayer. Something that I really wanted to try was Faction Matches, which is pretty obvious; People will side with one faction for a week (kinda like a trial version of MAG) and play a specific game mode. Whoever wins wins credit to their faction. I really loved the idea of this, but sadly, it's rare to find a game.
Sure, there's an AI bot battle for the offline users, but you pretty much have to go through hell to do it: Training Mode. Yeah, the training mode in this game is a real bitch, and that's just the basic training (advanced training was actually pretty fun). Basic training pretty much tells you to run a course in the shortest amount of time possible, and you can only advance if you earned a bronze medal. That sounds easy, but when you have to rush to get it in the nick of time, that's a hassle, and when you throw in more enemies and less time, you'll rage quit before you even unlock the AI bot battles (thankfully the newest patch unlocks it automatically).
Shown here: The Scout Helghast costume. Not shown: The Lost Planet 2 game (sorry, I couldn't find a shot)
And that's the thing about Lost Planet 2 and why I like it so much despite what people think: I played it AFTER the patches came out. From what I researched, the single player campaign was much harder due to weak weapons and lower defense... but that's not all: The Data Post in the levels are usually hard to find EVEN WITH THE MARKER, so imagine trying to find it the first time without them, and there's even a patch where if you're fighting a certain boss on a train and he rams it, then it's pretty much instant death, and seeing the section you had to endure to even make it to the boss fight was tough, that was a low blow. Thankfully, the boss battles are easier, but even with the new respawn system included with the patch, if you die during this fight; you have to start the WHOLE chapter over again. I love this game, and I usually don't rage quit, but when a game eats up hours of your time with no compensation, even I can toss my controller aside.
And don't get me started on the most difficult chapter in the whole game, Chapter 4-3. It features a tough underwater level where the enemies are vicious and too damn strong even against a mech, and even if you make it to the next mission, you really have to play it safe. At one point, you need to operate a mechanism to lower a draw bridge. That sounds easy until you realize that you're on the other side of the draw bridge, and mechanism is covered with enemy snipers, rocket launchers, and turrets. And that's not even the worst part: You have only two or three mechs that's actually capable to get across, and if you make it over there only to get killed by the snipers, then the mission might as well fail you because you're screwed. It's the worst design flaw ever in the whole game, and it's the most notable since you don't expect to lose without being told that you lost.
Aside from that, it's a pretty decent experience. Thankfully, for a game this beautiful, it's pretty SD TV friendly seeing as most of the text isn't an eye sore. However, split screen co-op is a little bit disappointing: Instead of doing a total split screen like the older generation of games (like say Halo 2), this game tries to keep the ratio intact by giving you a way smaller screen to work with. How small you ask? Well, on your TV, imagine a line in the horizontal middle, like you expect, but then imagine your half of the screen gets cut off around the 30 percent mark. That means you only get 70 percent of your half of the screen to see. Sure, on HDTVs, or hell, anything big, will show your screen just fine, but if you have a small 20 inch like my friends, then co-op will be severely disappointing. However, if you can get past that, the split-screen experience is largely intact: There's very little loss visual wise, the draw distance isn't as bad as say, COD: World at War and the fact that the split screen partner can use your unlocked weapons is a nice touch. However, you do lose the ability for the split-screen partner to customize themselves, which is understandable, but you also lose the ability to bring AI partners.
Wesker from Resident Evil 5. Too bad he never moves his mouth.
Now, you probably heard people complain about AI partners, but not having AI partners is a real disappointment for split-screen players. For one thing, the game feels a lot emptier without them, and it's a little harder considering the fact that the game is INTENDED for 4 players. I mean, when you have to defend 4 positions in one mission, it's pretty obvious how many people are supposed to defend one position, but when it's just you two, it's a little bit harder, especially considering the fact that both your deaths will subtract from the Battle Gauge and that the game treats you as 4 players instead of one (meaning you lose the added attack and defense power you would've gotten from playing single player). Overall though, the game is pretty easy with the patches now, but that still doesn't subtract the frustration of some levels.
Final thought, I'm going to have to say that with all the patches, it's a really nice game with a bunch of flaws. The graphics are beautiful, but the controls are awkward, and yet the bosses are amazing, despite the design being flawed in some levels. It's too (for a lack of a better term) bi-polar for anybody to immediately have fun with, but over time, this game starts to grow on you. Do note that the game is short, and apparently the community has long since left, so you'll be spending most of your time replaying the campaign. Still, there's nothing that beats the satisfaction of knowing just exactly how to get through a level, and that experience, like the whole game, should be shared with other people. If you intend to play alone, rent it, but for everybody out there with a couple of friends to play it with, have a go at it.
Play with human players, because their tactic isn't just stand there shooting.
Graphics ---- 9.0
-I don't think I've seen such a great looking game. I mean, the jungles look detailed, the character models are slick and well animated (although they never blink, move their mouths, or even move their fingers) and the atmosphere is unlike any other, with everything polished... almost literally.
Sound ------- 9.0
-The score is extremely well suited for the game, and despite what they say, the voice acting is very decent (despite barely being heard). The only problem is that the monsters sound a little scratchy, which can get irritating, and that the score is also seldom heard.... get ready for some quiet monster hunting...
Controls ----- 6.0
-I played games with horrible controls, but this isn't as bad as say... MGS: Portable Ops. I tested out all the controls and I still had to unnaturally use my fingers to aim or melee. However, the worse problem is that getting hit with automatically stops you from doing anything, like using your harmonizer, your anchor, changing your gun, or even shooting at certain points. That can lead to frustration.
Fun Factor --- 8.0
-While most of the time you're just shooting things down as you walk, it's definitely fun taking down the numerous bosses in this game. In fact, this might be one of my favorite campaigns in video games, even rivaling Modern Warfare 2 (not better than one) (although Episode 4 in this game is easily the worst with its spiked difficulty and boring events).
Final Verdict - 8.5
-For everything this game gives you, it takes so many away. Still, the things that this game gives you are well worth experiencing at least a few times, and for the record, the game does seem to end with a less than satisfying boss fight.
Although this boss was pretty kickass