Brrr bit cold out thar…
ESRB Rating: (Teen) Animated Blood, Mild Language, Violence
Publisher: Capcom Ltd
Developer: Capcom Ltd
Video: HDTV 480p / 720p / 1080i
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Players: 1 Offline, 2-16 Online
Official Lost Planet Website
Lost Planet at Xbox.com
Release Date: 12th January 2007
Lost planet is a title that gamers have been awaiting for sometime now. It was first shown a few months after the Xbox 360 launch, but what was shown at the time were a handful of screenshots and renders showing some impressively large insect bugs! Rather reminiscent of those from Starship Troopers. A lot of gamers including yours truly couldn’t wait for this title, even more so when Capcom released a single player demo onto Xbox Live’s Marketplace, which gave us a small taster of the first level.
Lost planet takes place in the future, when humans have left Earth, in order to colonize other planets. On a planet known as EDN III, the attempt at colonization was partially successful. The humans there had encountered an alien race of insects who they named the Akrid. While some battles with the Akrid were successful, it turned out that the Akrid had far greater numbers then originally expected as they are the original inhabitants of EDN III.
While fighting the Akrid, the humans stumbled across an interesting find. They found that within the Akrid, a thermal energy source was stored and this source could be gathered and used as a source of energy as well as heat. As EDN III is still an artic covered wasteland, this was a valuable and important find. It gave hope to the humans and they decided to stay and fight rather then flee the planet.
The humans developed and built Vital Suits (VS) to help combat the Akrid. These were essentially heavily armed mechs, and there were quite a few models ranging from the basic VS, to the top secret ones. Besides the Akrid being a threat to the humans, there were humans themselves causing trouble. Snow Pirates are outlaws who roam the deserted cities scavenging what they can and fighting any Akrid in the process to store their thermal energy.
A video intro shows a group of Snow Pirates finding a survivor buried in the ice. The survivor is Wayne, the character who you play in Lost Planet. His memory of the past is slightly jaded, but he does remember seeing his father killed by a super sized Akrid known as Green Eye. So naturally Wayne wants revenge…
Lost Planet’s gameplay is very simple; each level is basically a point to point exercise, killing anything in your path. There are no puzzles as such, although there are some situations where you’ll find yourself at a dead end so you’ll be required to make use of your grapple hook to reach previously unreachable areas.
One rather interesting feature is the way Wayne replenishes his health. Every second that he spends out in these wastelands, his health slowly drops down from the freezing temperatures. His suit however regenerates his health only if it’s topped up with the thermal energy released by either Akrid’s or other humans wearing similar suits. For almost every enemy you kill, they will leave behind a puddle of thermal energy for you to collect and add to your stores. So you need to be on the move at all times or your health will drop. There are other in-game objects that replenish you health with though, so you don’t have to go kill crazy, just keep a watchful eye out for fuel tanks and containers that you can destroy and utilise too.
The Akrid are a varied bunch, and I kept stumbling across a range of enemies as I progressed through the levels, which is a good thing unlike Gears of War which featured a handful of the same enemies scattered over all its levels with little variation.
Lost Planet’s Akrid enemies include small bat like flying creatures that look similar to those seen in the movie Pitch Black – they slightly resemble the Kryll from Gears of War too, except much less deadly. You have big rolling armadillo type creatures, and massive, and I do mean MASSIVE arachnid type insects, of which there are quite a few. Just wait till you see the size of the Green Eye seen at the beginning of the game, he’s big but not that big… Every Akrid has a weak spot, which is normally indicated by a highlighted yellow portion of it’s body, this makes combat a bit simplistic for some enemies and at the same time tactical for the bigger ones as you can’t just go all ‘Rambo’ on them with firepower.
The main killer element from Lost Planet doesn’t come from its storyline, or its gameplay, it comes from the huge boss battles at the end of each level. This is what the stale boss battles should have been like in Gears. They always feature unique types of Akrid, and some are stunning and really large. You tend to realise when you’re coming up to a boss battle because you enter a typically wide open space with weapons pickups, and a few scattered mechs about the place, and then comes the big bad.