In an effort to salvage what is left of a once great, original franchise, Lost Planet 3 brings forth the third, and hopefully final, chapter of the series. The original Lost Planet: Extreme Condition introduced a great idea as a title that meshed third-person shooter elements, mech vehicles, grappling hooks, targeted enemy weak points, and an ever-decreasing energy level that forced players to defeat enemies or find areas that would replenish this energy.
With such potential, it was fairly obvious Capcom should try to continue the title with a sequel or even a series. Unfortunately, Lost Planet 2 brought with it a slew of gameplay issues, design flaws, and just plain bad AI. Only fans of the original really had the desire to pay much attention to the second release, and the franchise all but had its fate sealed with such a disaster.
Not wanting to give up, the developer knew that the Lost Planet series could be something great. With Lost Planet 3, it is pretty clear that a new approach and a willingness to wipe the slate clean was really all that could save the franchise. New ideas combined with what made the original so special gave birth to something that seemingly has the potential of the original title. A new storyline, a more desolate and dangerous world, and a first-person cockpit view inside the mechs all must have felt like the right formula for a revival.
Unfortunately, once all of the ingredients were carefully blended together, the only thing that came out of the other end was a mess. This Frankenstein of a game tries to do too much with what it has. Everything that should make for a great game on paper, really just drags the Lost Planet series deeper into submission.
The actual controls and gameplay seemingly borrow things like cover-based mechanics and getting from point A to point B from bigger and better franchises, and come off as generic. It almost feels like LP3 was trying to be a Mass Effect clone. You are given objectives, optional objectives, and the freedom to go just about anywhere within your restricted and accessible areas. You collect a form of currency and are paid for completing objectives, which you can then turn around and use to upgrade your weapons and mech vehicle to your liking. This falls way short because of the limited amount of upgrade options, and eventually just feels completely unnecessary once you have completed a majority of the single player campaign.
You use your prized mech as more of an improvised weapon than the true bad-assery for which you might have hoped. You fight enemies using grappling hooks, a grabber arm, and a drill. Do not get your hopes up for a mounted canon and shoulder rocket launchers, because these mechs are purely industrial. On top of that, even if you get used to the idea of using a mech vehicle in such a lame way, you have the pleasure of traveling to different parts of the environment at such a slow pace that you start to wonder why the developers even bothered. If mechs were absolutely necessary, it might have made more sense for them to simply be available wherever you need to use them, instead of having to move the mech such large distances.
The AI here must have been drinking the same water as the AI in the second game. While there are no co-op or even non-playable AI characters to aid you during live gameplay sequences, the ground enemies make their movement patterns so painfully obvious. It might even bother you to know that some enemies can and will jump up on ledges to attack you, but those same enemies will also simply run around and wait for you to exit an open stairwell. Later enemies will move towards you, even while in cover, but they still fall victim to the fact that standing still with your weapon pointed at them is dangerous and ensures their defeat.
Quick time events also make an appearance in the game as well, but in a somewhat unique fashion. You are forced to mash a single button, then once successful, use an analog stick to aim an out of control reticle at a vulnerable point to strike when up against enemies. This happens with environment sequences as well as the enemy sequences both of which will ultimately end in your demise if you fail to button mash at a reasonable rate or just can’t seem to aim the reticle square enough for it turn red and strike. Sure, this could be a new take on a generation old mechanic, but it still feels out of place and gets fairly repetitive after so many times being forced on you.
Though the multiplayer has a few good ideas with a variety of modes, it is ultimately forgettable. Much like other titles in the shooter genre, it could be argued that a multiplayer mode was needed, however LP3 eventually shows itself off as wanting to be more of an action RPG-lite. Given how sloppy the single player campaign ended up, you can’t help but feel like if the multiplayer modes were skipped altogether, the main game could have been infinitely better.
Gameplay aside, the game looks and sounds absolutely gorgeous. Environments give you that desolate feeling and sense of despair, while the soundtrack and little noises create the perfect immersion. The cut-scenes look great, the voice-acting is movie quality, and the journal-like videos between gameplay compliment the story-telling pretty well. It is almost a shame that fans of the franchise couldn’t have just had a feature-length CGI-esque film made, instead of what feels like a movie that has had a game shoehorned in.
Overall, it’s a real shame that the series has turned out so poorly. It had real potential to become something great, but for whatever reason, has fallen to the wayside. Lost Planet 3 is an obvious rental for those that want to experience the story. If you’re new to the Lost Planet universe, unfortunately, this one is a definite skip.
Lost Planet 3 is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Mild Language, Violence. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360, PC.