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Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

I saw Lost Planet: Extreme Condition in the local game shop and seeing that it was available for a pretty reasonable price I decided to give it a shot.

I had seen and heard one or two things when this game was released for the Xbox 360 over a year ago towards the end of 2006 and opinion on it seemed to be pretty mixed. But seeing as it was released by Capcom and had sold well I thought the PS3 release was worth reviewing.

Firstly, the game informed me that it had to install itself onto my PS3 hard drive which took a fair while. I am not exactly sure what it did as the loading times were still there, although not too lengthy.

The story of the game revolves around the "Lost Planet" of the title, a freezing ice world that was colonised by humans. Yet, unsurprisingly the planet was also home to a load of aliens, call the Akrid, who look suspiciously look like the ones from Starship Troopers. You play the character Wayne who wants revenge after his father is killed by one of the biggest, ugliest and greenest of the creatures.

The game takes the form of third person action which largely involves shooting the aliens in their blindingly obvious glowing weak spots (honestly, haven't they heard of evolution?). The aliens drop Thermal Energy which you need to collect in order to avoid freezing to death and to replenish health using some kind of fancy device on your arm. This means that you are constantly on a timer as your energy reserve depletes which forces you to kill in order to replenish your supply.

Whilst this sounds like a good and novel idea for the game, it isn't particularly thrilling. Most of the time there is plenty of energy sources around and quite often it is simply a better method to run past all of the enemies and get to the next area. This sort of tactic rather defeats the point of an action game, especially when it is effective.

The other main area of gameplay comes from piloting mechanical suits which carry gigantic death weapons used to fight the larger Akrid and other mechs. Now, don't get me wrong, gigantic metal killing robots are generally cool, but not here.
The controls are generally annoying and some of the vehicle jumping sections are just plain irritating. Whilst they aren't essential, if you don't bring a mech through with you and do it on foot, it makes future sections much more difficult. Also since when does bumping into a ruined car knock a quarter of a robot's health off?

The final stages of the game require you to pilot a different type of vital suit (looking very similar to Zone of the Enders). Yet the problem is you get about 2 minutes to try and get used to the different controls before you fight the final boss. They also reposition some of the weapon controls so you are forced to mould your hand into some kind of claw shape which makes it virtually impossible until your tenth attempt.

Boss battles are also very common, with at least 1, sometimes 2 on each level with the traditional "find-the-weak-spot" element, which really is starting to look a little dated. The boss characters are all usually bigger versions of enemies and they don't tend to be particularly memorable.

However, all in all, the gameplay itself is actually ok. The shooting is acceptable though never feels satisfying or as precise and skilful as Resident Evil 4 for example. The game would also feel better if there weren't some strange physics which totally ruins immersion. It is possible for Wayne to pick up and carry some of the huge vital suit weapons which restrict his movement. Yet, the strange thing is if you use the grappling hook, he can somehow mysteriously carry a 4 barrelled homing laser in one hand.

Another issue is that your thermal energy drops repeatedly due to the cold, but when you explore a volcano later in the game it still continues to drop. It is just frustrating when you are walking next to a gigantic pool of lava that the game tells you that you are in danger of freezing.

The plot of the game doesn't do it many favours either. Firstly, the cut-scenes only last a few minutes each as a rule and each of them ends with a fade to black which left me wondering whether I kept passing out. The plot is very clichéd with the lead character suffering from amnesia (I lose track of how many games this happens in now).

Characters named Dennis, Joe and even a woman called Basil (!) don't make things easier and it is nice to see that Capcom keep up their unintentionally hilarious dialogue. I was left amused when someone says "I am tired of waiting, fiddling with machines" without a trace of irony.

All in all, for around £20, Lost Planet isn't a terrible game, yet it certainly isn't a great one. With only 11 missions (and a very short prologue) this will be over in around 5 to 6 hours.

Multiplayer extends the lifespan though again it seems to be a bit mediocre, although it is refreshing to play against some human opponents rather than the game's AI. There are the usual array of game modes (deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the point etc) and a fairly healthy selection of levels.

If you can find this for a fairly cheap price or are desperate for an action game, then you could do a lot worse than Lost Planet. If you are considering playing, then a weekend rental will be more than enough for the single player campaign and plenty of time to give the multiplayer a test.

6.00/10 6

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (Reviewed on PlayStation 3)

Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.

I saw Lost Planet: Extreme Condition in the local game shop and seeing that it was available for a pretty reasonable price I decided to give it a shot.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Christopher Wakefield

Christopher Wakefield


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