Lost Planet is a third-person action title which sees players guiding Wayne over a whole host of different terrains – well, two terrains. The action either takes place in the snow, or underground in a cave or building.
And action is what it’s all about - the game is essentially a shooting gallery, with puzzles and the like virtually non-existent and very much limited to just pausing to consider where to go next.
Still, it’s a decent enough shooting gallery and the game is broken up into sections on foot where Wayne runs around through very linear, but beautiful levels, gunning down Akrid in swathes with a selection of different generic weapons such as ‘Machine Gun’, ‘Shotgun’ and ‘Energy Gun’. Still, the guns all feel extremely satisfying to use so we really shouldn’t fault them too much.
There are some particularly massive weapons to pick and choose from too, including the Gatling gun which is even larger than Wayne himself and spits out lead at an incredibly impressive rate given how unwieldy the in-game gun looks.
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Vehicles play a large part in the game too and Wayne remarkably retains his ability to pilot a range of different VS robots – which made us question whether he even had amnesia at all. The robots all feel incredibly fun and realistic to use, by which we mean their animations are appropriately jerky and stiff despite the fluid control players retain as the walking VS’ gather momentum and speed.
The best part about the VS robots though is the ability to upgrade them ever so slightly and fire weapons independently. You see, when in a Vital Suit, the right-hand weapon is mapped to the right mouse button and the left is mapped to the left. It can be frustratingly difficult to do in the middle of a boss battle, but some of the larger weapons can be attached or detached to the arms of some robots.
Find a spot where the robot won’t fit, but don’t want to sacrifice the massive Gatling gun which has full ammo? No problem, rip the thing off and carry it with you to use in your hands until you find a new robot to attach it to.
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The same dual-weapon handling applies when Wayne is on foot too, with his spare arm chucking various types of grenades and mines.
Bosses are a big part of the gameplay too as the game is essentially a shooting gallery which pits players against either nearly overwhelming numbers or single, gargantuan bosses which, while not as big as bosses we’ve seen in games like Serious Sam, are still pant-soilingly huge.
Fighting these bosses is the same as fighting the smaller Akrid and is a matter of aiming consistently at the single weak point on the monster. Handily it’s always marked by a huge glowing orange point which is filled with T-eng. Concentrated fire on the weak spot will force any enemies to succumb, which is disappointing when something really spectacular could have been done with the gameplay when fighting huge bosses.
This illustrates a major weakness in Lost Planet; the gameplay is very staid and repetitive and it never gets much deeper than mowing down hordes of bad guys. That may have been fun on the console version, where action is more difficult and tense thanks to less accurate inputs, but when using a keyboard and mouse the action becomes at best too easy and, at worse, too tedious.
T-Eng is the most important part of the game world in Lost Planet as without it Wayne’s health will consistently and continually drain away as he falls prey to the titular Extreme Condition. When fully stocked on T-Eng however he can regenerate health and power the various Vital Suits which litter the levels.
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Extra T-Eng, which looks like an odd and out of place orange circle on the ground, can be gathered by destroying scenery, slaying enemies and using the data posts which Wayne occasionally stumbles across. Using a data post, a process which involves furiously tapping the use button, also gives players access to a temporary map in the PDA which highlights the positions of nearby enemies. Frankly though, the levels are so linear that we never once really needed the PDA.
Levels are divided into missions, twelve of them, which almost ruin the immersion factor caused by the jaw-dropping graphics by, at the end of every mission, dishing out to players a sheet of statistics. It’s the type of thing which can be good in some games, but awful in others when there is little reason for it to be there. The same is true of the collectible items which littler the missions in the style of small rotating letters which must be shot to collected. Why they’re there is anybody's guess.