In 2007, Capcom's Lost Planet: Extreme Condition was a decent start for a franchise. It featured stunning graphics that drove home the point of high-definition "next-gen" visuals, with massive, elaborately detailed monster boss battles like we hadn't seen before. It shipped with a decent multiplayer mode that Capcom continued to support, due to gamer interest, well past the game's initial release.
Things were looking good when the publisher announced Lost Planet 2, a title that gamers hoped would trump the original, bringing with it a four-player cooperative campaign. Four players together? Killing huge monsters online? If Capcom could just address some of the issues players had with the original, what could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out, just about everything.
Lost Planet 2 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], PC)
The story of Lost Planet 2 starts ten years after the events of the first title. There's some stuff happening -- a civil war, I think -- and people are fighting over Thermal Energy (T-ENG), a precious substance that man is simply willing to die for. And something about snow pirates and big insect-monsters called the Akrid. Heads up: this description isn't a rough draft or anything, it's just that following the muddled story of Lost Planet 2 is mostly confusing and pointless; despite slick, Hollywood action movie-style cut-scenes, there's little substance, and it's probably in your best interest to ignore it anyhow.
In the sequel, the story-driven single-player campaign of the original has been replaced by a cooperative campaign, which can be played with a team of up to 4 players, human or A.I. You can go it alone if you wish, but take note that you're always going to be playing a cooperative campaign, regardless. As the game begins, you're asked to "start a game" and are thrown into an online-style lobby where you'll choose your settings before you start. And once it does, you'll realize that at no point did Capcom intend for you to be playing this alone, or like your standard story-driven title.
Campaigns are broken up into small, bite-sized levels, each of which begins with an online multiplayer-style countdown as the action begins. Unlike the original title, these levels don't feel like fully formed or fleshed-out game experiences; instead, each seems like a quick, online multiplayer instance that begins and ends with a countdown. The result is an experience that is far less cohesive than it should be, with the game's cut-scenes struggling to keep things together.
Of course, Capcom managed to bungle this as well -- the introduction of the beasts is tremendously exciting and worth experiencing, but the actual battle is not. Each one simply involves firing endless streams of bullets or rockets at the enemy's large, glowing weak points, sometimes for upwards of 15 or 20 minutes at a time. What you think is going to be an incredibly exhilarating battle is quickly exposed as a chore -- particularly if and when your team fails, and you end up losing 40 minutes of gameplay as you're sent back to the last checkpoint... which was 15 minutes before you fought the creature.
Score: 4 -- Below Average (4s have some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst games, but are difficult to recommend.)
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