The original Lost Planet was, let’s be honest, a bit hit and miss. Graphically, it was a juggernaut of awesomeness, but the story made about as much sense as a bearded fish and the gameplay was all over the place, moving between cool, stompy robots and combat that general felt as smooth as skateboarding through a gravel pit.
In other words, Capcom was going to need to implement some big improvements to keep us interested in another version of its snow-filled shooter. The dev team has obviously recognised that and has done a lot to overhaul the core features of the game, with four player co-op being the biggest addition, but we’re not honestly sure that Lost Planet 2 has ended up any better for it.
In fact, despite some obvious and earnest efforts to make the premise of the game a bit more accessible and interesting, Lost Planet 2 is possibly even more bewildering than it ever was before. The story, which still takes place on the frigid and fridge-y EDN III, jumps around between a number of different characters and starts working some new types of battleground into the mix. It’s not a bad idea in theory, but it would’ve been nice if some of the people and place had been properly introduced.
Shoulder-pads are so 1980s
Take the first chapter for example, which puts you in control of some anonymous Snow Pirates who roam the snow. Who are they, what are they striving for and why are they suddenly transplanted from the snowy tundra into a tropical jungle? These are questions which Lost Planet 2 spectacularly fails to answer in its opening levels and, while the threads start to come together as you venture further in, the ham-handed script makes it hard to really care and easy to roll your eyes.
Oh, and it doesn’t help that most of the dialog is delivered in the kind of stiff, cheesy monotone you’d expect to hear in a 90’s lightgun game either.
Capcom has at least varied the level environments up a little, weaving rainforests and deserts into the world, but it’s hard not to be cynical and see these new locations purely as a reaction to complaints about the first game. Still, the change in scenery is a mostly welcome change – if nothing else it lets Capcom show how good Lost Planet 2 can look when it isn’t limited to depicting endless snowstorms.
Underneath the ice is a desert. Who knew?
Even technically though it isn’t all good news and while Lost Planet 2 definitely looks great the drawback is that most of the levels are ridiculously small and could be run through in a matter of moments were it not for the constant prompts to stop and hammer they face buttons. Pounding the controller as fast as you can is how you’re forced to do pretty much everything in Lost Cause 2 – it should be no surprise that that gets old faster than a politician’s promise.
Likewise, forcing your way through most of the menus and making sense of the interface can be an uphill struggle too. Little things, such as the delay between when you press ‘Y’ and when your character actually changes his weapon may sound like just a minor annoyance but they occur so often that they soon begin to grate like a sandpaper thong. Other issues, like a menu that looks like it was built by the SFX team from I, Robot and which muddles online, LAN and singleplayer options all in together, only further prove that Capcom hasn’t given enough thought to usability. Again, these may only be minor points but they make a big difference when you’re planning to sink hours into a game.
Besides, if the design team can’t even get these fundamentals right…