Groundhog Day: Getting lost in Lost Planet 2

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[Our Monthly Musing for February asks you to write about a particular game you keep coming back to over and over again. For the first promoted blog on the topic, Dreamweaver lays out why he can’t stop returning to Lost Planet 2. We’ll be promoting blogs on the topic to the front page throughout the month, so head on over to the Community Blogs and share your own thoughts on the topic! — JRo]

TIMTOWTDI = There Is More Than One Way To Do It.

This is taught to many programmers in that there’s no one way to do things. However, I like it when that idea is applied to video game design, in that there’s no one way to get through a level, and I’m not talking about branching paths for anything: I’m talking about being able to replay a level multiple times and doing something different every time. And what better game does that than Lost Planet 2 (or squared, whatever you wanna call it)?

Now then, before I begin, Lost Planet 2 wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea… It’s a pretty niche game akin to the likes of Armored Core or Gran Turismo – it’s not designed for everyone. However, the topic of this month’s Monthly Musing isn’t about debating whether or not this game was good or not, but rather, if it’s a game that people could keep coming back to. Well, I noticed that I could’ve picked many games, such as Resident Evil 4 or 5 or Super Smash Brothers, but I figured that this was a game that was vastly underrated, and that I must stand by it.

And so now, let’s begin our “journey into the horizon…”

(Let me just say that as a fan of Kanye West, Kid Cudi, as well as various other music artists, I’ve quoted a number of their songs in this piece. You’ve been warned.)

Maybe he should’ve been warned as well…

Lost Planet 2 … I first saw this game out on the used self of the Xbox section of the Gamestop that I frequent. And I’m not talking about there being only one copy, oh no, I found at least five, with an extra six in the one all the way across the other side of the mall (yeah, two Gamestops in one mall…). Well that’s not too unusual in itself; I have to say that this occurred about a week or so after the game dropped. What? Really? THAT soon?

Several months later, as the number of copies of Lost Planet 2 were piling up, I was chatting it up with someone over the counter about why there were so many copies of Lost Planet 2 . Turns out, he actually traded in his copy as well, stating that he beat it in one day at launch and that he didn’t really want to go back into it. I was thinking about getting it after having so much fun with the demo that I thought that I might pick it up.

About the demo … I had so much fun with the demo. Now, while I was on the 360, that meant that the demo was exclusively set during the end boss of Episode 1, to who we now know as Gordiant (or as the internet call him, “Sir Om nom nom…” or something to that effect). Still, even though it was the only level the demo covered (I did eventually play the levels set in the PS3 Lost Planet 2 demo), I wanted more of Lost Planet 2. I recall coming straight home from school to tackle that boss over and over again, playing that demo “Day N Nite,” never tiring of entering Gordiant’s mouth, tearing up his insides. It was addicting, and not only that, it was just the FIRST boss … I had to buy the game.

I’ll be “Up Up & Away”

So now I had the game (bought it new actually … support the industry!) I popped that sucker in and had a great time with it. It was a great game, and you can read my review here (shameless plug is shameless as embarrassing header is embarrassing and broken image is broken). But again, this isn’t about how good the game is, but how many times I’ve replayed it. Lemme just say it right now, I played it MANY, MANY times, and if the online population wasn’t dwindling, I would’ve played it many more.

Now why did I do that? After all, I’m the type of person to “play for the experience…” You know, you pop in the game, have fun, but then never look back as it starts to collect dust until you even forget what the cover looked like? Yeah, usually, with games like this, I usually just do; It’s like a journey: you go through it once, exploring as much as you can, but when it ends, you only reminisce. But still, I went back into this game time and time again, wasting my life, playing the “Blame Game.” Why?

Recall my very first sentence: TIMTOWTDI = there is more than one way to do it. This game was clearly designed with that in mind. I mean, think about the level of customization in this game: you got customizable costumes, weapon load outs, perks, and emotes! I’m a sucker for games having this level of customization: ModNation Racers (which I might write a blog about) and Soul Calibur 4 were among one of the games I’ve kept without trading in because I love to mess around in the character customization screen. And you know the best part of the game that hardly any other game boasts: having your created character show up in cut-scenes.

Seriously, when I heard that upon beating the game, you can have the option to bring along your customized costumes into the campaign, I could barely contain my excitement! I mean, most of the cut-scenes in this game weren’t pre-rendered, but in game, which meant that whatever your character looked like, it would show up in cut-scenes. I felt so giddy about it that if I didn’t keep my “Love Lockdown,” I’d ramble on and on about how much I loved it rather than tell you WHY.

The only game where you’ll see these guys side by side

I love the whole customization because so few games use it. I also liked that it’s YOU: You, yourself, appeared in the cut-scene, so if you’re very attached to yourself (as you should) then it’s always a treat to see someone that YOU designed in a cut-scene! It’s like having a virtual actor that you created in a virtual movie! Better still, I loved seeing OTHER people play as their own created characters (or the cross over skins such as Wesker from Resident Evil, Rathalos Armor from Monster Hunter, and Frank West from Dead Rising) as well as switching roles: when you played Single Player, you were always “The Star.” Play online, and you might get the side role, and seeing your character do that as well is equally exciting.

As for the actual game, it was also cool to use the weapons you unlocked in subsequent playthroughs: Had a hard time with a boss before? Well now you got the tools to make it easier? I used to have so much trouble with Gordiant before (it was hard to shoot the core, blow the legs, and then enter his mouth with fear of losing Battle Points or ammo) until I unlocked some of the cooler stuff. Had trouble shooting the Core down or blowing its legs? I hand cannoned that bitch. Need to do some major damage inside of him? Pop a few Buster Grenades when you’re inside of him. Want to get back inside without crippling him? Pop a teleporter inside of him and simply teleport back in. Want to celebrate a job well done? Pop a few fireworks and watch “All of the Lights.”

And that was just one boss. Sure, with some of the other bosses, such as Red Eye or that Submarine boss (I don’t know the official name), there really isn’t much room for changing methods, but still, the other bosses were definitely fun to retry over and over again. My favorite boss was Akrid X, and now that I had some cool toys to play with, AND that boss is the fastest one to get to, I had to replay it over and over again, either alone or with strangers online (What? I like to team up with Frank West or that Data Post). I mean, using shurikens on his legs was fun, abusing Teleporter Grenades created a cool way to avoid attacks, and who didn’t love to Pile Bunker his face when it got to Round 2?

Baby I got a plan: Runaway as fast as you can.

That’s how games should be like: replaying games with goodies. I mean, lots of games do that, but never to this extent. Using new skins is always a plus, be it the badass Rounders, the cool NEVEC soldiers, or the lovely Femme Fatale, and wielding different weapons offered different tactics. I mean, what could would Buster Grenades do in a tight corridor with little breathing room, or Teleporter Grenades when it’s a straight forward way there?

Like I said, games like Uncharted 2, with its infinite ammo and character skins, was pretty cool as an addition, but Lost Planet 2 pretty much said that “If you want it, you could get it for the rest of your life.” I mean, why choose a predetermined skin (aside the guest characters) when I can mix and match my own? Why are many of the cut-scenes pre-rendered, meaning that I might as well play as the character model they want me to use? Don’t get me wrong, Uncharted 2 was a hell of a game, with its “Mojo So Dope,” but Lost Planet 2 appealed to me way more in terms of coming back to play it again.

Final word? I guess you could say that I was “Lost in the World…”
Pun (or rather, play on words) intended.

We’ll Never Fight Alone

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