Lost Planet 2 is obviously and definitely designed to be best enjoyed with a group of friends in the four-player co-op mode and Capcom pushes this heavily throughout the campaign mode, but the reality is that co-op is crudely integrated at best. Players respawn back at data posts that can be far from the rest of the squad, while the option of sharing energy with allies clutters an already overflowing control setup.
On top of that few levels actually require players to really act as a team and changes made to the health and energy system leave the game feeling more like a grind than a fun way to play with friends.
As in the first game you still have to collect pools of Thermal Energy from felled aliens (along with out of place ‘?’ boxes), but it no longer constantly dribbles away unless you’re in a robotic Vital Suit. Instead, you sacrifice it when you die and respawn at the last checkpoint and the game only really ends if everyone completely runs out of energy. It pretty difficult to reach a Game Over screen, but relatively easy to die. In other words; we hope you like respawning and backtracking.
Snow Pirates object to raising train fares
It’s easy to poke fun at Lost Planet 2’s nonsense story and bizarre, babbling fiction, but to do that is to forget that at its core Lost Planet 2 is supposed to be a simple arcade shooter. You can tell that much from the way it rates you at the end of each tiny mission, detailing your score and giving each player a grade. It simply isn’t meant to be taken seriously, so the only real problem with all of the nonsense about ‘Category G Akrid’ and ‘T-Eng’ is that it masks what Lost Planet 2 really wants to be. There’s too much of it and it gets in the way.
Similarly, it’s easy to spend a long time talking about what’s new in Lost Planet 2 – the health system, the co-op, the trees – and to forget that much of it remains unchanged from the first title. Combat has the same clunky feel and you still spend most of your time pumping an inordinate amount of bullets into conveniently colour-coded weakspots, hammering ‘B’ in front of data posts or battling huge bosses. Well, that and wondering how come it is that your character can pick up a gatling gun twice his size.
You’d hope that Capcom would have polished up and improved all the elements that have been carried over, but unfortunately that’s just not the case. All that’s really changed is the scenery and the story, the former of which isn’t enough to build a game on and the latter of which isn’t enough to even make sense of.
That helmet looks uncomfortable
Given Lost Planet 2’s arcade aspirations though the awful state of the story is entirely expected. To be honest, with a game like this it isn’t something we’d usually choose to comment on in any great detail – because it’s usually offset by some brilliant, fast gameplay. That’s what arcade games are supposed to be like, right? Just Cause 2 just proved that games can be as silly as they want and still be awesome, but Lost Planet 2 can’t make any such claim. The action feels slow and clumsy – letting the bloody silly stuff shine through for what it is and confusing what Lost Planet 2 really wants to be.
It’s that last point which really sums up the major problem with Lost Planet 2 – Capcom aren’t entirely sure what type of game it is and so have tried to appeal to many incompatible interests. It ends up controlling as slow as a tactically minded shooter, but doesn’t have a cover system or any of the other requirements to fit that mold. It has the big boss fights and a score system that suggest an arcade game, but the pace of the action and lengthy cutscenes sit at odds with that. It wants to be a four player co-op game too, but the levels rarely make use of the possibilities that provides and what’s left is going to be hugely disappointing for singleplayers.
In the end, all it really ends up being is a mess which, while definitely playable and pretty, lacks punch and direction. It definitely picks up when played in full multiplayer, but to really get the most of it that means a lot of effort and expenditure - and even then there are far games which offer similar and superior co-op experiences, leaving Lost Planet 2 without much of a market.