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Lost Planet 3

20:1201/09/2013Posted by Chris MorellOne Comment

Escaping from the jaws of angry, bug-like foes and piloting giant mechs are all in a day’s work on E.D.N III, the frozen world humanity has unwisely decided to call its own. Its harsh terrain and vicious natives would push anyone to breaking point, so a strong will and determination are a must for anyone looking to call it home for any length of time. You play as Jim Peyton, a man who’s decided to do just that in the name of a steady pay check. Taking on the hordes is no small task, however, so he’ll need his wits a wealth of ammo if he hopes to make it out alive and tell his story. Does this troubled franchise finally have a tale worth telling?

Lost Planet 3 shifts the series from arcade action to slower-paced storytelling. Jim’s bearded mug serves as a welcome change from the usual Nathan Drake types, and his video messages home to his loved ones reveal his motivations and sentimental side. He’s an easy enough character to root for as he’s anything but one-dimensional. Cutscenes are well-acted and animated, but technical hiccups and tinny sound issues can pull you from the moment; it’s a real shame considering the effort that’s been put into crafting them. There’s a chance you might even care enough to keep playing, even when the action itself becomes little more than a slog.

That brings us to the main issue we have with Lost Planet 3 – it just isn’t much fun to play. No amount of shiny ice caverns and moody power plants are enough to save the game from its mediocrity, no matter how shiny and foreboding they might be. Combat is generally handled from a third-person Gear of War-like perspective complete with last-second dodge move, though a lack of enemy types will soon turn the action into a grind. True enough, the game will drop a new kind of Akrid into the fray, but these are rarely much fun to find considering just how many of these you’ll be forced to take on, and with very little method to the madness.

Killing these bugs drops various amounts of T-ENG, the valuable, glowing resource that the NEVEC Corporation holds so dear. Upgrades can be spent in the shops, providing you with a host of new weapons and modifications. Collection nuts will find something to love in Lost Planet 3 for this very reason, especially as you’re no longer forced to collect the stuff or suffer an ice-cold death. Jim soon gains access to the grappling hook from past instalments, making traversal a breeze when not being harassed by respawning Akrid. Upgrades are cheap enough that they always seem within reach, and this is one area where Lost Planet 3 outperforms some of this year’s best.

It’s just a pity that the rest of the game doesn’t fare as well. When you’re not traipsing on foot, you’ll be strapped into a Utility Rig (giant mech to the rest of us), with a few music tracks available on the fly. It’s a slow, first-person trudge from A to B despite the inclusion of a fast-travel system, largely taking the fun out of giant robot action. It’s a suit designed for day-to-day functionality more than it is for grub-killing – a fact made all too evident when tasked with turning valves and chopping through icy blockades. It’s not all bad news though, as some of the larger battles can be genuinely fun to play given the mech’s stopping power.

The developers at Spark Unlimited have taken Capcom’s flagging series and sought to bring it back with inspiration from other games and movies. Some obvious examples are Aliens, Dead Space and Resident Evil, though the world of E.D.N.III is still very much the wasteland of Lost Planet. There’s also little that the game gets especially wrong (aside from some truly infuriating gunfights and the repetitive level design), but by releasing around six years too late it might just have shot itself in the foot. There’s simply nothing here we haven’t seen a great many times before. Being derivative isn’t a crime in itself, but there’s no bypassing how Lost Planet 3 fails to take these mechanics and use them in an enjoyable way.

Multiplayer allows for heated battles for up to ten players online, though no split-screen local play is supported. Fans of online multiplayer will find themselves right at home here, largely because there’s little fat to the modes. Akrid Survival and Extraction stand as very different match types, for example, and it’s a nice touch to have mechs included amid the chaos. There’s still not enough here to warrant a purchase on its own, though we hear tell of new maps coming soon as downloadable content.

Lost Planet 3 is a prequel that does a whole lot more than its predecessors, but then that’s not saying much. It’s the definition of a mixed bag, at one moment boasting superb landscapes, but then dropping you into yet another cavern filled with scuttling Akrid. Things get choppy on the PlayStation 3, with screen tearing and sound problems abound. There’s no excuse for the extensive load times either, considering the hefty six gig install. Full of potential and desperate to push away from its own mediocrity, Lost Planet 3 could have burst onto home consoles in a fountain of glowing orange. As it stands and regardless of what might have been, there’s not enough reason for a jaunt in the frozen wastes.

This review is based on a PS3 copy provided by Capcom.

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One Comment »

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