Platforms: Xbox 360/PC/PlayStation 3
Developer: Spark Unlimited Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Third Person Shooter Platform Played: PlayStation 3
The Earth is running out of resources, and it’s becoming a dire predicament for humanity, forcing humans to search other planets in an effort to gain the resources necessary to keep the human-race alive. The Neo-Venus Construction Company – or NEVEC – is at the forefront of these expeditions, hiring contract workers to travel to the icy-world of E.D.N. III to harvest Thermal Energy in hopes of bringing it back to Earth. However all isn’t as simple as it seems: the government will do anything they can to keep the population alive, even if it means covering up their own mistakes from the past. But what happens when those mistakes are discovered, revealing the true evil nature behind the corporations trying to save Earth? We get Lost Planet 3.
The shady government narrative isn’t the most unique story-plot to be developed, and Lost Planet 3 runs down similar story paths to such films as Avatar or Pocahontas. However, there are some key differences that keep the narrative entertaining and fresh during the 10 hour experience. Unlike the previous mentioned movies, we are presented with an everyday hero in Jim Peyton. He is no military expert, he is no leader within NEVEC; he is simply another grunt travelling to E.D.N. III in hopes of making a stable financial interest for his family. Peyton is a loving husband to his wife Grace and new-born Hank, who has stumbled upon financial-hard times on Earth, forcing him to go to extreme measures to keep his family afloat.
This is where Peyton becomes a believable hero; he is simply a man looking out for his family. His realistic personality comes across strongly during the solo videos logs that he and his wife send to one other through the experience. These are brimming with emotion; for example, in one instance we see Peyton watch a video from his wife, only to repeat the video once more, right after watching it the first time. This was a moment that sold Peyton has a memorable human, rather than a hero: the feeling of missing the one you care about and re-watching videos, re-reading texts, or re-listening to voice-mails is a feeling I know of too well. These video logs also do a great job at establishing other character’s emotional reasoning’s that could not have been explained in other ways; it allowed Lost Planet 3’s brilliant acting to shine through connecting us with these characters in a matter of moments, rather than through hours of dialog.
The brilliant acting is also shown throughout Lost Planet 3’s cinematics, which look outstanding in-comparison to the in-game conversations that occur. These in-game conversations contain some of the worst lip-syncing since Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and do contain the occasional texture pop-in, making me appreciate the cinematic cut scenes much more. We are also able to collect a series of text and audio logs throughout the adventure. Straying from the main track will usually mean finding more information on the characters and the world around us. It is a great feature for those looking to get the most out of Lost Planet 3, and they contain the same acting quality as the main narrative moments.
Peyton was hired because of his expertise at controlling his own personal Rig, a large mech-like robot that is built around the idea of harvesting Thermal Energy, rather than the mechs you would see in Pacific Rim that are built around combat. The Rig is essentially Lost Planet 3’s second character, one that constantly provides a reminder of Peyton’s goal with a photo of his loving wife ever-present within the Rig’s cockpit; which is a beautiful touch. Using your Rig is second-nature in Lost Planet 3, as it will be your main means of traversal, which becomes some of the more monotonous and boring tasks throughout the campaign. Exploring in your mech to reach your next mission is basically following a Hansel and Gretel-esque trail of points until you make it to said-mission. Luckily, there is a quick-travel option that can be utilized to skip these slow moments unlocked fairly early into the campaign.
Your Rig also becomes a means of defense against some of the bigger enemies located on E.D.N. III, as you use your excavation attachments during combat against these enemies known as Akrid, which come in many shapes and sizes. These enemies range from small grunts that can be dealt with quick and easy, to flying insect creatures, or even the over-sized crab-like enemies that require your Rig to squash into oblivion. The premise of Rig battles against giant enemies sounds more fun than it really is, as these battles mainly turn into a quick time event-fest. You will mostly be waiting for your enemy to attack, before countering, allowing you to grab your enemy and drill their glowing orange weak spot, and almost every enemy in the game will have these orange weak spots. The satisfaction of drilling these over-sized monstrosities as their orange innards splash on your Rig’s window helps make these battles worthwhile.
Rig combat does a good job at keeping gameplay fresh, as for the most part, Lost Planet 3 is a third person shooter. Mechanically, the shooting gameplay is solid, aiming feels nice, weaponry feels strong, and movements feel smooth. Yet it doesn’t add much to the genre. That isn’t necessary a bad thing, as almost everything feels nice, just don’t expect shooting mechanics that will rival some of the best shooters available. The solid gameplay finds a few technical issues however, due to a less than helpful camera, that becomes an issue during some of the on-foot boss fights. These encounters usually follow the same format: dodge, shoot, dodge, shoot, repeat. The camera tends to lose your position during these enclosed battles, making it hard to gain your bearings inside the small battle arenas.
When smaller enemies overwhelm you, grabbing onto Peyton’s body, we are given a QTE segment. However, these are given an interesting sense of intensity due to their Walking Dead-esque aiming mechanics. After beating the QTE you will have to move a reticule towards your enemy to try and kill it using melee based attacks. If you miss too many times, the creature will take you down. It is an interesting way to keep QTE’s fresh, one that more shooters could benefit from using.
Lost Planet 3 also offers players the ability to use cover mechanics to avoid their enemies. However, cover is needed for almost 30 minutes throughout the entire experience. Cover is almost useless against the Akrid, and only becomes beneficial when facing human enemies. Even then the human AI is usually too dumb to make cover viable. These enemies will stand in open areas allowing you to take them down easily, or my personal favourite, throw a grenade close to their own team mates forcing them to run out into the open hail of gunfire. In other words, AI is definitely lacking within human enemies.
Visually, Lost Planet 3 looks strong. However, due to E.D.N. III’s icy nature, most of the environments are fairly bland and unmemorable. Lost Planet 3’s campaign benefits from some Dead Space-esque horror moments, providing an intense sequence that stands out as my favourite section of the game. These moments only last for a short amount of time, but they do a great job at providing a better horror aesthetic than Dead Space 3. The musical score also provides an intense atmosphere which horror fans will appreciate.
Though most of the environments are fairly similar and some will also be visited multiple times, it was odd to see the game constantly freeze up due to frequently loading areas. This was especially noticeable during some of the more visually hectic areas of the game, as Lost Planet 3 will constantly stop and start to load as you go. This is especially a problem while running through crowded areas. There were also two separate occasions that Lost Planet 3 needed rebooting because of this, as it would find itself freezing during these moments.
Lost Planet 3 also offers a small amount of online multiplayer options. These include 5 V 5 Team Death Match, Xtraction and Scenario, which has opposing teams either defending a moving target, or trying to stop it in its tracks. These felt fairly standard, but did provide some extra entertainment alongside a fairly extensive skill-tree upgrading system. Leveling isn’t an option here; instead, players earn cash rewards which then can be used to purchase abilities, weapons and perks of their choosing. There are a lot of options here, but the problem will be finding matches due to the small community. The community is barren to say the least, as when I checked the online leaderboards, my 16 kills (at the time) had me within the top 6,000 players in the world.
Teams also have access to one vital suit during matches, offering players a different strategy if they decide to use it. Mech’s are not too difficult to take out, and I found it possible to use smarts to take out these mechanic monsters fairly easily: speed and maneuverability goes a long way against slow-bulking power. The highlight of the online features comes in the form of a 3 V 3 Akrid Survival mode, which combines Capture the Flag with a Horde Survival mode. Players must try and capture a location while defending against the enemy team, while Akrid attack both teams meaning they will have to team up at some point to take down the common enemy. It is an interesting mode that definitely provides the most online fun. But again, the baron community may mean this mode becomes extinct before its time.
Lost Planet 3 is a solid title. However, it doesn’t improve on the third person shooter genre in any way. It is merely a strong shooter that contains an extremely enjoyable narrative, coupled with some amazing acting. The main cast of characters are brilliantly done, allowing you to truly believe in their story, and impressively make you care about them. Lost Planet 3 might not be one of those must-play titles, but it is an enjoyable game that provides a fun experience.
Lost Planet 3 is far from perfect, but those looking for engrossing story and smooth gameplay may very well appreciate what it has to offer.
+ Impressive acting makes characters believable
+ Strong narrative
+ Solid shooting mechanics
+ Horror moments
– Poor lip syncing during in-game cut scenes
– Human AI is lacklustre
– Monotonous Rig traversal