Lost Planet 3
Capcom’s Lost Planet series of games has always managed to sell decently and score generally favourable reviews, but never really blow the minds of fans or critics. ‘Lost Planet 3’ manages to tell an interesting and even emotionally moving story, whilst refining combat and stripping away meaningless grinds and co-op gameplay. I questioned some of the decisions made by Spark Unlimited and Capcom when I read press releases, but thankfully the main campaign is better written and also plays better than every other entry in the Lost Planet franchise.
The story takes place before the events of previous Lost Planet games, which is great for inexperienced Lost Planet players, but it also opens up the opportunity to give the story the polish that it deserves. Players are introduced to Jim Peyton, an extremely likable and human character, who gains employment with NEVEC (who are not quite yet the sinister antagonists they are in previous Lost Planet games) and is sent to the planet E.D.N. III to help further NEVEC’s interests there.
The facial motion capture is the best I’ve seen in any Capcom published game, and if it’s not mo-cap, it’s damn fine animation. Every single character behaves and moves like a real person. Everyone is realistically written (with the exception of the annoying Frenchman, Laroche), and the conversations are a well-crafted balance between a Hollywood movie, and what you would realistically expect if the conversation were to happen in real life, particularly the video message scenes between Jim and his wife, Grace (who is back on Earth).
Lost Planet 3 begins as a typical action game. There is shooting, agile enemies, cover-based mechanics, and a naïve (at first) hero who is baptised by fire, or in this case, thermal energy. There is even the over-used technique of the clever introduction sequence, which is a typically unrelenting assault on the protagonist, after which the camera stays in place, and the character fades into the distance only to reveal the game’s title. The opening mission and the intro afterward made me expect a rather boring, by-the-numbers game. I was pleasantly surprised.
Of course, there is only so much innovation that can be put into a third-person action game this end of the current console generation, and while Lost Planet 3 is certainly accessible, it doesn’t offer any new gameplay or overly-exciting thrills at all.
Gone are the bipedal mechs from previous Lost Planets, and in their place are giant mechs, called “rigs”. I knew the second I saw one that I would probably be getting one as well, and that the game would try to make a big song and dance about it, which it did. Even if getting your own mech does sound exciting let me explain: these rigs do nothing exciting, ever. If you are a keen sailor in your spare time and enjoy tying down rigging, then maybe you will find the robot repair segments exciting. For me, having a giant and therefore slow mech slow down to a snail’s pace in a blizzard
After reading other reviews of Lost Planet 3, I feel like I’m the only person who actually understands the game. Pardon me if that sounds arrogant, but to review Lost Planet 3 based purely on gameplay (which is still pretty solid) is to do the game a disservice. There really is a good story present here, and it’s delivered extremely well (for the most part). Between missions, a video message is played from Jim to Grace or from Grace to Jim. The player gets to see both sides of Jim and Grace’s relationship, and a lot of the conversations are what you would expect. I actually smiled at the characters sending messages to each other. These messages (and other things, such as a photo of Grace in your Rig’s cockpit) are a constant reminder of why a man would come to such a desolate and dangerous planet. What really works in LP3 is just how ordinary and unspectacular Jim Peyton really is. He’s just a man, doing his best in a decently paying job where death is a constant threat.
Despite a decent main story, and a touching romantic sub-story, the gameplay in Lost Planet 3 is quite dated. That isn’t to say it’s bad, it’s just unimpressive. Gameplay missions usually take place on foot or in your rig, the former feeling a little too Gears of War and the latter failing to pique my interest.
Quite often, there is a repair or mining mission in which you pilot Jim Peyton’s rig. When interacting with broken machinery or drilling through the frozen wastes, different actions are required to “simulate” the experience of controlling the mech. These are however, too simple or just too awkward to enjoy. The earliest rig mission involves fixing rigging which supports NEVEC’s home base, but it is so simple and over so quickly, it really does break any immersion the player may have experienced. Why couldn’t anyone else do it? I was already rescuing people and fighting giant crab monsters, but apparently nobody else could be bothered piloting their rig the meagre 30 metres distance to the rigging. No, Jim Peyton must do that, despite being a few kilometres away and single-handedly exterminating a nest of alien beasts.
Lost Planet 2’s co-operative gameplay has been axed in favour of competitive multiplayer in Lost Planet 3, which leaves me confused. In a game where humans are constantly fighting to survive in a sub-zero temperature, why bother making uniform characters compete against each other online. There aren’t even matches that make use of the story in the single player campaign. Surely instead of Team Deathmatch, we could have teams fight over control of thermal energy hotspots. To summarise, the multiplayer is garbage, and not worth your time.
- Well-told story and solid gameplay
- Solid gameplay
- Tired, out-dated gameplay
- Garbage, shoehorned multiplayer
If you consider yourself a fan of a good story, check out Lost Planet 3 before you write it off for its tired gameplay. Ultimately, with dated and unexciting gameplay, Lost Planet 3 feels like something you have done hundreds of times before in other games, with a few odd and occasionally awkward mech mission thrown in to break up the monotony. Thankfully, the story is told well and quite enjoyable.
Score – 7/10