12th June 2010 - Lost Planet 2 is Capcom’s much grander and ambitious sequel to the original Lost Planet: Extreme Condition on Playstation 3 and XBOX 360. New to the table is the expanded 4 player co-op gameplay, integrated throughout the campaign and competitive multiplayer modes. The addition of unlockable content to customize your avatar’s appearance, weapons, emotes flesh out the Lost Planet universe and according to Capcom’s PR, Lost Planet 2 not only indicates it’s a sequel, but the amount of content that is packed in.
Lost Planet 2 is a third person action shooter with a campaign story mode and a competitive multiplayer mode. The campaign mode is broken into six chapters, sectioned into episodes and each chapter concluding with a very large boss battle against a “Cat-G” Akrid (imagine a huge insect thing that is gigantic). The background plot is pretty flimsy, in essence we have warring factions of colonists on the planet E.D.N. III, each fighting over a new energy resource called thermal energy that is absorbed/created/harvested from indigenous wildlife called Akrids, which are insect like animals with glowing orange body parts (which coincidentally are their weak spots). Killing large Akrids release the much sought after T-ENG. The overall plot is unfortunately delivered in such a disjointed way, each chapter focusing on a different faction with a different main character; making it very difficult to piece together a cohesive plot.
Each episode is fairly short, roughly 10-15mins and by default campaign mode are online lobbies which people can join or you can invite your own friends. Offline split screen local multiplayer is also available (up to two players) but online 4 player co-operative is very playable even when playing with overseas players. A nice touch is that players have their region displayed next to their name so you can join lobbies that correspond to your own region. One negative aspect though is that drop in/out co-op is not implemented, you can join an ongoing lobby but not be able to participate until they exit to the lobby (because they failed) or finish the episode/chapter. You cannot skip chapters or episodes in campaign mode so if you are playing with a group of friends and you fall behind, you will have to catch on your own or go back and redo them for you. If you don’t have any friends to play with you, you can always fill your squad with AI controlled bots who for the most part, are inept. They will assist you in activating data posts, kill things occasionally but the best thing is that when they die, (and they will) it doesn’t deplete the battle gauge (which is essentially how many “lives” you have per episode).
With four human players in a squad, your battle gauge becomes quite important and it can be equally frustrating when your fellow squad mates fall off a ledge and die (repeatedly) causing you to fail the whole chapter. The flipside to this though, is that you don’t have to play with the bot AI. Much frustration ensures especially on the train levels where falling off is instant death and at times you just cannot control being flung off by explosions or being knocked off by enemies.
As you play through the campaign you earn strangely named “Good Job” (GJ) awards, these can be awarded for helping out another player with T-ENG, getting a kill streak with a weapon or performing objectives. At the end of each episode you are given a rating and are awarded career points which are used to unlock customization parts for your character’s appearance. Additionally you collect boxes with question marks on them which earn you credits, currency used to spin a slot machine to unlock new emotes, weapons or titles for use in multiplayer. Most maps are fairly linear so you just plod from one data post to another, Capcom’s way of providing waypoint markers so most levels degenerate into hitting one waypoint after another. Some boss battles have some good gimmicks but it is very poorly explained to you what you have to do, in one case, must frustration ensured trying to operate a rail gun which involved multiple (slow) steps to load up the gun and it only takes a few hits from the Akrid to fling your character off the train and drain your valuable battle gauge (forcing you to redo the whole tedious episode again).
Lost Planet 2’s controls is a fairly complicated affair, although you can switch through various button layouts, there is a lot of buttons to press and some of the movements feel a little bit awkward, such as dashing around, grappling with your hook on ledges and ducking behind cover. There is a training mode available, similar to the VR missions of the Metal Gear Solid series where you are in a VR training room and racing against the clock. With a variety of difficulty levels and multiple tasks to complete, this is best tackled after you have gotten to terms with Lost Planet 2’s control system or completed the campaign section of the game.
The competitive multiplayer mode offers a variety of game types: Elimination (aka death match), team elimination (team death match), data post battle (where you try to control the most data posts on a map), Akrid egg battle (something like a capture the flag game mode), Fugitive, Battle Series (a mix of all the other game modes) and Faction match where the five different factions battle amongst themselves to win a weekly competition that rewards the winning faction career points and credits. What is great in Lost Planet 2 is that each game type has different victory modes, a cycle of Elimination mode could rotate between winning through achieving the most amount of kills, winning with the most points, or reaching a set point limit while team elimination your victory condition could be to eliminate the opposing teams leader’s VS.
The frame rate stays solid most of the time and the background environments are passable, some are better than others such as the lush jungles and mining areas which are very large and multi story and when paired up with the boss battles, really gives you a sense of scale when you are fighting a Cat-G Akrid. The colour palette used consists of a lot of bland browns and grays as you trudge through chapters and the camera doesn’t really help either. Sometimes enemies would die through walls or die behind invisible walls preventing you from picking up the items they drop.
The background music is fairly middle of the road, a very dramatic orchestral score and the voice acting is clear and passable throughout the cut scenes. Obviously each faction has a stereotyped ethnicity to them and it’s conveyed through the voice acting. The gun effects are nice and there is a good amount of banter as you progress through the levels, from the enemy soldier quips to the radio briefings as you progress along. Sound is rendered in 5.1 Dolby Digital so those with a home theatre setup can enjoy all the explosions happening around you.
Lost Planet 2 does very well integrating the online co-operative play to the campaign mode and progress through the campaign also benefits your character in the competitive multiplayer mode. There are multiple difficulty levels to play the campaign mode through and the co-op experience is quite good, lag issues isn’t much of a problem except for the technical part of joining a lobby but once you are in the game it works quite well. There is definitely a lot more content than the original and provided you can get past its awkward controls, the multiplayer aspect is enjoyable and there is plenty of content. A major bonus is that Lost Planet 2 is getting discounted quite heavily so you could probably pick this up on the cheap fairly soon.
A reasonable game with some technical flaws, namely its control scheme and really disjointed plot which is such a shame as it is clear Capcom tried very hard to flesh out the Lost Planet universe in more depth and tried to pack in quite a bit of content. The execution of the online campaign is a bit of a hit and miss, technically the online experience is good once you get into a game but a bit clunky when navigating through its menus and trying to join lobbies. Unfortunately, for those without a good internet connection, the offline experience is probably not going to be that fantastic and with a game where online play makes up a large component of the game, the plot itself is not strong enough to keep playing the campaign mode offline with bots and the training missions aren’t strong enough to carry the game.
AAG SCORE: 6.5/10
+ Online lag is not much of an issue even playing with people from far away regions.
+ Boss battles are great and really feel like an epic battle
+ Multiplayer mode has a lot of different modes to play
- Control scheme is very clunky and unwieldy.
- Drop in / drop out co-op not supported online, entering lobbies is not a fluid process
- Plot is too disjointed and doesn’t make much sense.
Reviewed and Written By Danny Yee