Lost Planet 2 – The PS3 Attitude Review
Originally released in 2007 for the Xbox 360, Lost Planet was generally well received. A year later, PS3 owners were able to see what the fuss was all about. For the most part, it was a faithful but flawed port.
Lost Planet 2 has all the features of a great game. There’s four-player co-op, improved competitive multiplayer modes, better graphics, tons of unlockables, the ability to customize your character, and boss battles of epic proportions.
Lost Planet 2 is bigger than its predecessor, but does that make for a better game?
Lost Planet 2 takes place a decade after the events of the first game. As a result, E.D.N III has changed drastically. None of that really matters. Just know that the snow filled environments have been replaced by jungles and deserts. If you never played Lost Planet, don’t worry about not being able to follow the story.
Capcom did a great job at creating an intimidating menu screen. You really won’t know where to begin. It doesn’t help that many of the options are hidden in plain sight. It’s unnecessarily convoluted. Unfortunately for the player, a lack of clarity will soon become a recurring nightmare.
Throughout the campaign mode you will be accompanied by three partners. These characters are either controlled by an AI or by players online. There’s also support for two-player splitscreen co-op. Even when playing offline, starting the game is very similar to creating an online match. There’s an option for Quick Match, Custom Match, Create Game, and Connection Type (for offline or online play). All of the functions are exactly what you should expect from any game. You can even select the amount of AI players on your team. If you don’t want any, you have that option.
The story is separated into six episodes and each episode contains multiple chapters. Since the story is told through the perspective of multiple factions, it’s a bit difficult to follow. We’ll get this out of the way now. You don’t want to play Lost Planet 2 for its story. Not only is it difficult to follow, but it isn’t all that interesting. In fact, the dialog is boring and overstays its welcome much too often. Don’t be surprised if you start skipping all of the cutscenes.
The gameplay is where Lost Planet 2 won’t let you down. There are battles against huge Akrids that take seemingly forever to defeat. It’s all fun though. There are so many different weapons to choose from, and that’s not even including the VS mechs that you can control. There’s always a sense of epicness, although sometimes it’s more subtle than we would like.
Thankfully, each episode is a very different experience. There’s lush jungle environments, appropriately bland deserts, and large sections of land covered in snow to explore. There’s even missions deep underwater and in outer space. Variety is something that Lost Planet 2 does not lack. That is, until you notice that every chapter has you activating data posts over and over again. Do we really need to mash the O button mindlessly each time? It adds nothing to the gameplay.
Character movement is still extremely sluggish. It makes sense when you’re underwater or when you’re in a huge mech. It doesn’t so much when you’re just running on plain land. It gets even worse if you equip armor. There is a sprint button but the movement speed never seems fast enough. You will get used to the slow motion after awhile.
There is a grappling hook that can help you zip to high places. You might find yourself using it travel faster by latching onto certain walls. For whatever reason, the grappling hook is far weaker than it should be. You can’t use it while in the air and the reach is laughable. This could have been such a cool ability, but it’s never properly utilized beyond its most basic functions.
The Vital Suit mechs are a lot of fun. Some are just basic robots with powerful guns, but there are a few that can fly. What’s great is that some of the mechs have space for your team members as well. You’ll be able to control the VS while your buddies blast every enemy in sight. It’s as awesome as it sounds.
By now, you most likely heard that Lost Planet 2 doesn’t have a checkpoint system. This is only partially true. During the single player campaign there are data posts scattered all throughout a level. After you die, you can respawn back to any of the activated data posts. There are no set amount of lives. Instead, there is a meter (called the B-Gauge) that depletes after each death. The amount that depletes will vary depending on the situation, and your whole team is bound to this meter. Activating data posts will boost your meter slightly and this will increase the amount of respawns your team has.
Once the B-Gauge runs out, it’s game over. It doesn’t matter if members of your team are still alive. When you choose to restart the mission, you are forced to play through the beginning of a chapter again. This really isn’t as bad as it seems. Chapters vary in length, but none are too long. Most chapters can be completed within an hour, and that’s being pretty generous.
Like we mentioned earlier, there are six episodes which contain multiple chapters. Episodes 1-3 and 5 have three chapters each. Episode 4 has five chapters and Episode 6 has four. Playing through the campaign on the normal difficulty took roughly 7 hours and 30 minutes to complete. Even though the amount of hours it takes to beat the game will vary from person to person, it’s clear that the replaying a chapter from the beginning won’t take much time. If you have a competent team, the chances of a game over are relatively small anyway.
Lost Planet 2 was obviously designed as a multiplayer game. Playing alone isn’t fun and the AI partners are a joke. They won’t always attack what they should and you’ll end up doing all of the work anyway. If you don’t have friends to game with you might not enjoy this game. You can play the campaign mode with random gamers, but those users just tend to drop out after a few chapters. It’s just best to have a dedicated group of friends to avoid this potential annoyance.
In terms of difficulty, it ranges from appropriate to blatantly cheap. You and your partners will die a lot from random one hit kills and it can be infuriating. There will be a few moments when attacks will knock you down, and as you’re getting up, you’ll be knocked down again before you can even do anything. You will be rendered useless until you die. It’s cheap and it will piss you off. This was an issue in the first Lost Planet as well. Thankfully, it’s not as frequent in the sequel.
For whatever reason, customized characters can only be used in the campaign mode after you beat the game. It’s disappointing but it does make sense in terms of the story. It is a bit funny seeing a female character with the voice of a male. Still, having the option to use the Monster Hunter or Albert Wesker skin right from the beginning would have been nice.
The competitive multiplayer mode is an acceptable diversion from the campaign. Due to the slow as molasses movement, it’s not always fun to play. The usual suspects are all present. There’s elimination, team elimination, and a variation of capture of the flag called Akrid Egg Battle. There’s also a mode called Data Post Battle and the idea is as straight forward as it gets. The players that activate the most data posts win. One of the more interesting modes included is Fugitive. A small team with horrible equipment has to face a much larger team and evade being captured. At times it can be intense, but it can also be a snooze fest if the fugitives are good at hiding.
Selecting the type of game you want to play is just one of many options available. For instance, in elimination matches you can choose to have a victory decided by points, battle gauge, or kills. There is so much to manipulate for each game type and this will allow you to make matches to your liking.
Overall, the co-op campaign is the highlight of the game but the competitive modes are fun. They can’t be taken seriously though. There is never a feeling of balance. Actually, so many elements feel completely broken. Since Lost Planet 2 is one of those games that reward you with new weapons, high ranked players will have more powerful gear. It’s not really fair that veterans can use a gunblade-esque weapon to quickly decimate opponents while others can’t. If you’re playing online for the first time expect to see a lot of weapons that you don’t have.
Speaking of the reward system, it’s more punishing than rewarding. Some of the weapons can be unlocked by simply reaching a certain level with a particular faction. The requirements can be a bit high, but at least those are set in stone. There’s also titles that you can assign to your character and many of those can be unlocked by doing certain tasks in the campaign mode.
For the majority of the unlockables though you need play a slot machine game using in-game credits. The machine allows you to win new weapons, titles, skins, and abilities. It’s all random. You will receive new titles more often than anything useful. Since you can only gain credits during the campaign mode, it’s even more tear-inducing torture. There are so many unlockables in Lost Planet 2. It makes no sense why winning them has to be random. You’ll grind for hours and get nowhere fast. Not exactly our idea of fun.
Even the trophy requirements are ridiculous. When you have to earn every title in the game, many of which are randomly selected from a slot machine, that’s just cruel. It takes more time than what it’s worth. If you want to platinum this game you’ll need to celebrate your six month anniversary with the game and achieve level 99 with every faction. Good luck with that.
So what’s the verdict?
Lost Planet 2 is not a bad game but it has a lot of design flaws. Nothing particularly makes sense in the story and Capcom doesn’t bother telling you what you need to know. Once you do figure out how everything works, it’s a blast to play. The cooperative gameplay is enjoyable and you will be hooked for hours at a time. If you don’t have friends to game with, however, the tediousness will overwhelm you and ruin the experience. Lost Planet 2 isn’t the sequel that it should have been, but it’s still worth checking out. It’s certainly better than the original.