Lost Planet 2 Review

Lost Planet 2 box art

Intense and addictive third person shooter with loads of content.

Story

The planet E.D.N. III is in turmoil as the five factions of human occupants are constantly fighting for territory and resources. The alien life-form known as Akrid are the source for a highly valuable resource known as Thermal Energy and everyone is willing to do whatever it takes to get their hands on it. But then a greater danger emerges, forcing everyone to work together if they are to survive at all…

The Game

In this action packed sci fi third-person shooter you play as members of different factions throughout the game, meaning that the story narrative isn’t based on one single protagonist’s perspective. The game is split into episodes and each episode focuses on a specific faction, giving you a faceted and objective view of events that are going on. At the end of the game however, the story is focused solely on the Nevec faction. The factions at war are Rounders, Fight junkies, Nevec, Snow pirates and Femme Fatales. Three out of these are explored in the single player campaign whilst the others are solely available in the multiplayer modes.

The game is built on the simple concept of completing given objectives and side objectives as you move towards the ultimate goal of each episode. The objectives are often kept on a very simple level but the variety is still enough to keep it refreshing. Thermal Energy is collected from killed enemies and it will help you stay alive when you get hurt. Mission objectives can range from breaking into facilities to sneaking into military fortresses.lost_planet_2_8

Controls

Lost Planet 2 is played from an ‘over the shoulder’ third-person camera view, making it easy to follow the intense action going on at every turn. The camera can not be rotated freely as it is locked to move with your reticule, making it intuitive to learn and easy to use. The aiming speed can be adjusted at any time, either from within the game or from the options screen.

The standard control scheme of Lost planet 2 is relatively easy to grasp and after the first few levels you will have picked up the basics. The game uses every button on the controller with some button mapped to two functions, making certain situations a lot more awkward than necessary. A perfect example of this is the Circle button as it’s mapped for both melee attacks, dashing and activating objects. This makes it impossible to engage enemies with melee attacks near objects as your character will prioritize activating Data Posts or VS’s rather than attacking the enemy. This can either happen frequently or rarely depending on your play style.

You can jump at any given time and while it’s nothing out of the ordinary, it does make the game feel quite smooth as you won’t have to circle around every obstacle in your path.

A huge part of the game is to utilize the Anchor which is a grappling hook or sorts. The Anchor lets you use almost any surface to reach higher grounds and while it cannot be used while you’re in midair it’s still one of the most useful tools you have to gain an advantage in battles. The Anchor also automatically saves you should you fall down from a height. There is no damage from falling but certain pits will instantly kill you.

Other moves you can pull are; swapping between weapons, make 90 degree quick-turns, reload, shoot, throw grenades and so forth. The controls can take some time getting used to but the standard layout can be changed with other preset ones. Unfortunately the game doesn’t support customized controls, which may pose a problem for left-handed players but in any case it’s rather easy to learn and it feels really good after a few hours.

Content

There are two basic game modes in Lost planet 2. You either play the Campaign mode or you play the various Online modes. The Campaign mode can be played in four difficulty levels and it does an excellent job at scaling the challenge level up a notch for each level. Playing on the Easy level will shower you with lots of power ups while the enemies are quite weak. This gradually becomes less true as you move up the difficulty scale.

The greatest feature of the whole Campaign mode is the option to team up with three other players over the PlayStation Network, because playing alone you either rely only on yourself or three AI controlled players. The AI controlled characters lack the ability to take initiative, so they will rarely approach objectives or enemies without you guiding them. Playing with AI controlled team members is thus limiting; you can’t rely on them to cover you nor can you trust them to make intelligent decisions in the heat of battle but it’s still a viable choice. The AI controlled team members can be turned off and as such it’s completely possible to play all alone.

There’s also a Tutorial mode in there, which basically are time based challenges in various obstacle courses.

When playing Campaign mode your team has a Battle Gauge which represents how many times you can die. Getting killed deducts points from the Battle Gauge but it can be raised by activating Data Posts. Data Posts act like checkpoints and they also power up your radar which shows you where the next objective is and where enemies are. When the Battle Gauge is emptied, it’s game over and you need to restart the chapter in which you failed. This sounds more cruel than it actually is because the game does allow for a lot of mistakes before getting there.

The Campaign mode is split into six episodes containing 19 chapters and a normal playthrough will take around nine hours. There is a good amount of lasting appeal to the Campaign mode and it’s still fun even after two, or three playthroughs much thanks to the wide variety of mission objectives and scenarios.

Lost Planet 2 has a lot of variety when it comes to the enemies you fight. Both human soldiers as well as the insect like Akrids will fight to stop you dead in your tracks. The humans you face will use whatever weapons you have unlocked against you as well as any VS’s they can get their hands on. The Akrids range from small to monstrous sizes – not to mention the bosses which make for some really epic boss fights not like any other. While the concept of fighting the huge Akrid is simple, it doesn’t take away from how impressive these fights are.

The enemy AI is not going to outsmart you by any means – its purpose is to stand between you and your goal and that’s it. The Akrids all have different AI behavior however, so they behave somewhat believable, but most of the time enemies will tend to get stuck in places. This feels like a minor issue because the enemies do provide a good challenge as they are regardless.

While playing you will constantly run into so called Good Job opportunities. This is a way for the game to set challenges for the players – for instance if you complete an area fast enough you might get a Good Job award. There are plenty of different Good Job challenges throughout the game. One of the more common ones is getting a long streak of well placed headshots. The game keeps track how many awards you have collected in every episode and you can check which ones you have completed so that you can focus on getting the remaining ones.

There are 51 PSN trophies for you to collect and they are all of various difficulty. Most trophies can be obtained by simply playing the game though, so you won’t need to go out of your way to get them. Trophies such as “Play 500 Online matches” are tedious but not impossible to get, while completing the game on the Extreme difficulty level might be a lot harder.

The health system from the first Lost Planet is back but with a twist, meaning that whenever you take damage you will automatically start healing yourself with the use of Thermal Energy. This is possible because of a device called the Harmonizer and when you run out of Thermal Energy you will no longer be able to heal yourself. The twist of the healing process is that it’s extremely slow, but by holding the Start button you can quickly recharge your health at the cost of Thermal Energy. There are some limits to this as it’s only possible to use when you are on the ground, but you can still move around making it a very useful tool to stay alive. To further help you stay alive your teammates can share their stored Thermal Energy with you.

The game features Vital Suits, or VS for short, and these are powerful mecha suits that provide extra protection from damage as well as additional firepower. The VS’s can be repaired at the cost of Thermal Energy, making you choose between repairs and your own life source. When a VS is destroyed you are prompted to quickly eject before it explodes but taking too much damage might result in an ejection failure where you will die instantly.

In order to upgrade your character you have two different points that you can collect. Credits, which is the currency of the game and Career Points, which are the experience points of this game. Both are good for unlocking abilities, character parts (which are basically costumes), emotes, weapons or titles. Credits can only be spent on a slot machine which randomly gives you rewards for each play. Each play costs 2000 credits and successfully completing a chapter you might have 14000 or so to spend. Getting the better weapons and abilities will require you to gather more credits either by replaying the Campaign mode or by participating in the Faction Matches.

Career Points are used to increase the level of your character and to unlock different features depending on which faction you are currently playing as. After successfully completing chapters you will receive Career Points based on how well you played. For example if you did all side objectives you will be better rewarded. Every ten levels (so far) unlocks something.lost_planet_2_13

You can also find weapons, abilities, emotes and titles, or Nom de Guerre as they are called, by collecting special boxes marked with question marks that appear after you defeat enemies and bosses. These boxes rarely have anything of value through but since they’re plenty, and at times you can collect up to a 100 boxes in less than 20 minutes, they’re still very much a viable option for collecting stuff.

There are plenty of weapons and abilities to choose from but most need to be unlocked first. You get to choose which weapon you want to have as your Standard-, Short Range-, Long Range- and Heavy weapon and this is done before you enter the game. This system works very well and makes every player’s character a little unique. The weapons range from machine guns, shotguns, revolvers, shields, rifles to plasma cannons. Most weapons come in different variations like shotguns that stun enemies or machine guns that are optimized for short-range combat.

These weapon abilities have a great variety to them as they can either increase your damage, make you soundless to enemies, boost your Thermal Energy, give you more points after completing chapters or increase your defense. You can either choose two weaker abilities at the same time or one stronger, making it possible to really customize for every situation.

The game has five different grenade types as well. These are Grenade, Gum, Disc, Dummy and Plasma, and they all have their specific area of use.
The VS’s also have weapons of their own. These are often larger, more powerful versions of the regular weapons but there are plenty of unique weapons as wellthe most notable one is the deadly Homing Laser.

As far as notable low points of the game go, the story doesn’t quite pick up and feels therefore unimportant and even redundant. The episodic approach to storytelling doesn’t work here and the story, while interesting in its core, is never really explained in any detail to players – let alone new players to the franchise.
What’s more, Lost Planet 2 must be installed on the system in order to play. The install size is about 4,5 gigabytes.

Multiplayer

Lost Planet 2 also supports local split-screen co-op which always is a nice feature to have in games like this. It is a nice choice for offline sessions but not the preferred way to play as the game uses a terrible way to split the screen between the players. A big part of the screen is dedicated to a radar that at the end of the day isn’t the most important thing while playing, making the actual game screen small in comparison.

Playing with other players online is where the game really shines, and it’s easy and fast to find other players playing the same episode as you. You can set parameters to better suit what kind of game you are looking for, and these parameters are difficulty level, episode, chapter and friendly fire. If you create a lobby you can set how many private slots you want and whether you want AI players as well as human players.

The online part of the game which is split into three different categories; Ranked-, Player- and Faction Matches.

Player Matches are the most straight forward as it’s basically a matter of choosing a game mode and playing. There are no leaderboards and no player ranking involved.

Ranked Matches track your score and rank on leaderboards on three different game modes, namely; Elimination, Team Elimination and Post Grab.

Faction matches consist of three matches randomly generated on a weekly basis. This means that a fresh combination of game modes and maps will be available for play every week. You choose a faction to represent and the game will then team you up with other players from the same faction. After the week is over, all factions are ranked from one to five depending on how well they fought across the three matches. This then determines how many Credits you get per win. Winning is the only way to get Credits here, which is rather cruel as even the losing factions should be entitled to something.

The various game modes to play online are:

  • Elimination – A free-for-all type mode where you shoot everyone you see. Most kills wins.
  • Team Elimination – A team vs team type mode. The score can either be counting kills, Battle Gauge or point based. Battle Gauge can be increased by either killing an enemy or by activating a Data Post. Getting killed or losing a Data Post will decrease the Battle Gauge of your team. In point based games you accumulate points by killing enemies or activating Data Posts, but certain actions will grant you extra points such as killing an enemy VS. If you are killed all your points are then transferred to your killer and the team that reaches 80 points or has the most points when the time runs out wins.
  • Post Grab – A team vs team type mode where you must activate all data posts to win.
  • Post Grab Battle – A team vs team type mode where your team needs to activate a Data Post and keep it activated for four minutes. The other team will need to do the same thing. First team to get their timer to reach zero wins.
  • Fugitive – A one-against-all type mode. One player is extra strong and the rest must try to take him down.
  • Akrid Egg Hunt – A team vs team type mode. Both teams try to acquire the most eggs from the opposite team. This is basically a “Capture The Flag” but with a twist.

The online portion of Lost Planet 2 provides you with countless hours of pure fun, but it’s not all without issues. The worst part of the multiplayer is that when you’re in the lobby waiting for other players to join, the match starts automatically after a short period of time making it virtually impossible to set up even teams.lost_planet_2_5

Graphics

Lost Planet 2 makes good use of Capcom’s special MT framework graphics engine, as the game has some incredible visuals and effects. What really sticks out here is how crisp and colorful the game is – all sorts of bright colors are cleverly used, making for a truly unique look. The level design is great and the environments pack a neat amount of detail.
All the cutscenes are rendered in real-time meaning that if you change your character’s appearance the cutscenes change accordingly. The animations are great as your character will flinch when near explosions, stumble around when huge monsters shake the ground and so forth. The game world presence is very tangible due to the believable animations of the humans and Akrids alike.

It’s worth noting that the game does drop frames during bigger battles in the Campaign mode, but never beyond an acceptable level. Drops in frame rate are always horrible despite how much, but luckily this doesn’t seem to be present in the multiplayer online modes as the hardware never reaches that amount of strain there.

Sound

The soundtrack is one of the better orchestral ones out there. The main theme especially is fantastic and something that you’ll instantly recognize. It captures a sense of desperation and sorrow as well as an undying fighting spirit for what is right and good. The rest of the soundtrack is equally great – it delivers an intense sound to the action going on and it’s all it needs to do.

The sound effects are appropriate for the setting and the environments. The Akrids sound very intimidating with their grunts and howls. The gun play is also captured well with the sounds complementing each other – the loudness of armed conflict is very much present in this game. The voice acting is what you would expect in a game like this, nothing worth noting as either good nor bad.

Summary

There is a lot of good features in Lost planet 2. Most noteworthy is the great addition of four player co-op, fast and easy online play and the huge amount of content. This game is great fun from start to finish and then some, as the online portion will provide you with additional hours of high quality gameplay. Surprisingly enough the game has a memorable soundtrack to boot.

While the game follows a different path from other games of similar caliber it certainly is a contender and a good choice for anyone looking for some long lasting fun an excitement. There are some issues as mentioned such as the poorly designed online lobbies and the lazy AI of both team members and enemies, but overall the game is well made and has lots of memorable scenarios and firefights.

Developed By: Capcom
Published By: Capcom
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 3
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Players: 1-16
Also Available On: Windows PC, Xbox 360
Released: 2010-05-11

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