Review: Lost Planet 3 Ben Rayner 2 September, 2013 Game Reviews, Retail Games, Xbox 360 Lost Planet has been one of Capcom’s more cult successes, gaining its fair amount of attention but never quite hitting the charts like the explosion it could be. Much like previous titles, Capcom have given the reigns over to western developer Spark Unlimited, the group behind Turning Point: Fall of Liberty and more recently the yet to be released Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z in a bid to add a more polished single player experience and story along with some big changes that the series sorely needs but long time fans of the series may just find a little too daunting. Brrrr it’s cold outside! Lost Planet 3 throws you back onto E.D.N III, only this time long before the events of the first two games have occurred meaning the planet is still a dangerous ball ice filled with vicious alien predators, uncharted landscape and storms so dangerous only the toughest survive. The million dollar corporation NEVEC have chosen to mine the arctic tundra of E.D.N III in order to solve Earth’s mounting energy crises with the infamous orange goop “Thermal Energy” only there’s one problem. The planet’s vicious inhabitants known as Akrid are guarding it with their lives and that’s where Jim Peyton comes in. One of your everyman, salt of the earth types, willing to do anything and risk it all for the future of his family (all while looking suspiciously similar to that actor Nick Cage) hired by NEVEC along with a handful of cowboys to maintain the colony of Coronis and gather all the T-Energy they can, with a little help from their hulking mech suits known as RIGs. Surprisingly Lost Planet 3 delivers a great story, it’s not only full of believable characters but enough interesting twists and turns to keep you surviving the arctic conditions and pushing forward toward the ultimate climax. Peyton is a great lead character, whom we find out more about as the game develops, through video messages he sends and receives from his loving wife waiting patiently back on earth. The videos spring up while you’re exploring in the cockpit of your Rig and don’t just deal with the relationships a man can have while isolated from everyone he knows and holds dear, but also his mind-set as the passage of time moves ever forward. I quickly found myself charmed by the man and doing my best to keep him alive which is a rare quality in many games as of late, all of which seem to be laden with cocky, hulking meat heads who hold no qualities other than some average quips. There’s certainly some Dead Space influence in Lost Planet 3 From the outset this sequel feels like a much darker game, with some gorgeous vistas to feast your eyes on when you dare to climb out of your RIG, there is some clear inspiration from Dead Space and this is where fans of the original may begin to feel a little uneasy. Far from its arcade-shooter roots, Lost Planet 3 feels so much more like a survival horror, as you explore the world unsure of what you will find. Often I’d descend deep into a cave system, searching for that big score of T-Energy, only to switch my torch on and discover I was surrounded by hundreds of Akrid and only a slim chance of survival. Combat is less run and gun and more focused on the rather old school ‘tank controls’ fans of Resident Evil may be familiar with, just perhaps not quite so tight and sluggish, with a rather basic cover system thrown in for good measure. For me, the series dipping its toe into survival horror worked to create a great experience, really adding to that space cowboy theme but the combat controls can be a little inconsistent with some frustrating camera angles occasionally thrown in. Combat isn’t limited to on foot tension as Jim’s RIG can be used, to quite joyous effect on occasion, despite bureaucrats from NEVEC banning miners on E.D.N III from attaching weapons to their mechs, the drill and claw arm are a satisfyingly gory way to pull apart pesky Akrid. That’s if they’re not too fast for you to simply stomp on them. Unfortunately this is one of the areas Lost Planet comes a bit unstuck, while traveling in your RIG offers a delightfully claustrophobic first person view, something which Spark Unlimited have utilised well to emphasise the cold and harsh storms, combat feels a little bit too much like a set of QTE’s which ware thin after the first few laugh out loud moments in which your windscreen is covered in orange goo. FPS Mech combat, it may be slow but it’s good fun! The first few chapters of the game will have you digging into the boots of Peyton the mechanic, wandering around the tundra repairing equipment, helping out fellow workers and delving into caves to gather T-Energy which will have you convinced you’ve got a job to do. Work soothes the soul after all. You’ll wander backwards and forwards from Coronis, where you can buy upgrades for your guns and RIG as well as mingle with the rather large cast of characters and there are some great ones around if your willing to find them. All ready to tell you some interesting tidbits or golden nuggets of advice such as “There ‘aint nothing funny about sexing a penguin. Not even if they’re begging for it”. Words to live by we can all agree. It’s a shame though that while these conversations are enjoyable, reminiscent of Mass Effect and its bustling Citadel, the interactions never lead to anything deeper or affect the game in any real way. Travelling around in your RIG can at times feel like a grind, they aren’t the speed demons fans will remember after all, but you can listen to playlists Peyton’s wife sends over to add some road music, and if you’re not into serious six string cowboy tunes then you can create your own playlists. A neat idea for those who find fetch quests a drag. The big problem that Lost Planet 3 faces is its pacing, often slowing down after an interesting plot point kicks in, making the overall title feel a little suffocated while trying to make the story last longer than it need. Quality over quantity definitely should have been applied to the games ethos. A far throw from the series we know, but I enjoyed it! Overall It’s a large departure from its predecessors, Spark Unlimited have done everything they could to deliver a fully rounded shooter that’s enjoyable but still true to its roots and in many ways they’ve succeeded while also falling at a fair few hurdles also. The story is excellent with a refreshing protagonist that helps to make you truly believe in the tasks at hand. Some shaky combat and missed opportunities let the title down and a dragged out run time manages to bring the game back from something that could have been great to a fairly average third person shooter. Despite its faults though, Lost Planet 3 remains a game worth experiencing.