Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also available on: PlayStation 3, PC
Reviewed by: Jonathan Bester
For several years I have been a big fan of 3rd-person over-the-shoulder type shooters. We’ve seen some truly stellar titles that have defined this genre and made it what it is today. Now, Lost Planet 3 has stepped up to the plate to test its worth against those that have come before it. With its melancholy ice covered landscape and its mech-vs-monster-driven story line, it certainly vies to be up there, but will it succeed in joining the ranks of greatness achieved by the giants of 3rd-person shooters before it, or will it be left as a frozen memory on the lost planet of E.D.N III? Let’s find out.
Lost Planet 3 serves as a prequel to the previous 2 instalments in the series and tells the story of one, Jim Peyton (who surprisingly looks a lot like Falling Skies and ER’s Noah Wyle), an engineer working on the planet E.D.N III, mining and collecting a substance called T-Energy. Because T-Energy is so abundant on E.D.N III it also serves as currency, which Jim uses to purchase items and ammunition/upgrades for his many weapons, but more on that later. The story in Lost Planet 3 is what carries it through its +/- 9 and a half hour worth main story. Optionally if you are like me, you like to explore a game and see what else there is to do and fans of this way of playing games will be pleased with its side quests as it not only serves to prolong the playing experience, but it also allows you to see how well the other characters in the game are developed. Speaking of which, did I mention how well the characters are developed in Lost Planet 3?
The characters are portrayed in such a way that you bond with them emotionally, from Jim Peyton’s heart warming conversations with his wife back on earth, discussing such things as their son’s first time walking to him; not being able to be there due to his time on E.D.N III trying to make enough money to support them. The other characters also have the uncanny ability to make you love them or hate them, all within the first few minutes of meeting them. Laroche, one example, tends to be the complete opposite of Jim, in that he is snide and attacking as opposed to Jim’s always friendly, always helpful demeanour. I was also thoroughly enamoured by the antagonist towards the end of the game, in that his character was so well developed that you could actually sympathise with him when it came to his reasons for doing what he does. Storytelling like this serves to build a game up to be something that resonates for years to come. This does not remain consistent, and that’s where the cracks start to show. Where you have your strong leading characters, with excellent voice acting, and well written script, you also have poorly animated and ill-conceived tertiary characters that only serve to bring the quality of the game down, and this is frankly quite disappointing as going into this game you EXPECT it to be good all-around.
The gameplay in Lost Planet 3, as mentioned in the introduction to this review is pretty much your stock standard 3rd-person shooter. It contains elements similar to other titles in this genre in that you can hug walls and shoot over them, vault over and carry on attacking enemy characters and of course, change weapons from a radial wheel. What sets Lost Planet 3 aside from its peers is the vehicle combat mode, enabling you to mount a 40 foot tall mech and stomp your way through various landscapes on the desolate world of E.D.N III. Using your trusty claw arm to grab onto and interact with objects, along with a drill arm to crack and destroy ice as well as attack enemies, it’s lumbersome to make your way through the campaign, facing devastating ice storms and dangerous (pronounced LARGE) enemies. At one point Jim gets caught in what is referred to as an Emperor Class Storm, which effectively freezes the mech in place, and you have to fight off waves of enemies while shooting the ice off your titanic vehicle in order to free it and carry on. In addition to your standard method of movement, Jim is also equipped with a grappling hook which not only enables him to mount the aforementioned mech, but also to rappel down cliffs or traverse them in spectacular fashion.
The enemies in Lost Planet 3 vary between standard attack class aliens known as Akrids, which comes in a variety of forms including ones that burst open at the cone-shaped head. They shoot projectiles at you and attack you head on, dealing minimal damage. As you progress through the game, the enemies become gradually harder to battle as the larger ones tend to jump around, and as far as I could tell, could only be truly damaged by shooting them in the glowy bits. Towards the end of the game (without spoiling it for you), the enemies shift from fighting those pesky Akrids, to fighting good old humans. Well not really good, but like I mentioned earlier, it’s a matter of them believing they are the heroes and are doing it for the greater good. The story tends to get quite murky, but Jim, knowing the truth, battles on. I found these human enemies to be largely lacking any sort of challenge and this does pose a bit of a problem, especially considering the Akrids are quite challenging in the lead up to the finale.
Visually Lost Planet 3 is striking at first. With it’s stark and barren landscapes, overlaid by well rendered weather effects and incredibly well detailed human inhabited areas, you expect things to only get better from there. Imagine my surprise when I realised that not only does it not improve, but it stays exactly the same, throughout the entire game. All of it. The ice landscape looks virtually the same wherever you go, with only the features changing. Seeing the same landscape for several hours becomes boring and tedious and makes you want to switch off the console, but I persevered because I found the story to be good, but it wasn’t enough. The characters, as I mentioned before, are incredibly well rendered, and I really feel that technology has reached a level where, no matter what game you are playing these days, you will notice that characters are getting so well designed that it is starting to look like they are real people. Lost Planet 3 is fortunate enough in that it happens to be in that category and I approve of this.
Lost Planet 3 sounds amazing. The voice acting is superb and carries the game to great effect, lending to an overarching story that will touch you at an emotional level. Add to that, the fantastic selection of music tracks that accompanies you while traversing the ice landscape in your mech. You can change between music using the directional keypad and there really is a nice variety to choose from. If you don’t like what is given to you, add your own music and tackle E.D.N III while jamming to your own tunes.
Finally, we delve into the alternate game mode that is multiplayer. As can be expected with 3rd-person shooters these days, it is almost obligatory for a game such as this to have multiplayer. As you can imagine, the multiplayer in Lost Planet 3 is again quite standard in that it allows 10 players to battle it out across 6 maps, utilising dynamic objectives. Add to that, a survival mode not unlike Horde mode in Gears of War and Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer and you have quite an interesting take on playing with your friends.
Lost Planet 3 is a powerful and thought-provoking game in its own right. It shows you life as it would be as an engineer on a planet far from home and what it would be like to engage an alien enemy in a barren ice landscape. It is visually striking at first, but it grows repetitive and boring as the game progresses, because the landscape remains stagnant. Gameplay is standard for a game in this genre, and aside from the alternate traversal modes in the form of the 40 foot tall mech and the grappling hook, there isn’t much new and innovative to be spoken of. Audio is well conceived of and immersive and save for a few problems tends to remain consistent throughout the title. Multiplayer is nothing special, but it does add a bit of value to the title using its dynamic objective-changing mechanics during a match. I enjoyed my time with Lost Planet 3, but certain things did grate me a little, and whereas I do not want to put this game down, I can see the developers really did try very hard to make a game that is immersive, fun and interesting. Hopefully they learn from their mistakes and we see a truly spectacular Lost Planet 4.
Lasting Appeal: 6/10