It's time to return to E.D.N. III, the beautiful land of giant, heat-giving insects that serves as the backdrop of Lost Planet 2! Before you pack your sunscreen and insect repellant, check out these travel advisories from the video game reviewers.
The winter wonderland of the original Lost Planet is melting away, giving way to the lush jungles than naturally lay hidden beneath a planet that's been covered with ice for thousands of years. It's got heat-giving insects, so anything is possible!
Does that include Lost Planet 2 to achieving universal acclaim?
Lost Planet 2 is a game for masochists, for only they will appreciate the awkward controls, ridiculous save system, uninteresting narrative and cheap deaths; the ones that'll have you throwing a controller at the wall. Almost everything about this sci-fi third person shooter comes up short, including the much touted four-player co-op. It makes us wonder if Capcom understands quality game design at all, and quite frankly, whether it even wants to.
It feels like Capcom tried to craft a campaign out of bits and pieces from Lost Planet's sharp multiplayer component, but in doing so, neglected to consider some of the core elements that make the series unique. Tight corridors largely replace the open canyons that provided the setting of the first game, and most of the highly unique, snow-covered environments are now replaced by genre-standard desert and jungle stages. Even the Vital Suit mechs are marginalized — they're available throughout the campaign — but they're rarely essential considering the game feels designed around on-foot action.
It's absolutely essential that you play LP2 with real people, and ideally people who know what they're doing. The difference between three AI dummies and three people who will work with you, offer support when needed, cover you with a shield, guard the right area of the map, and generally use a brain is huge. It's the difference between LP2 being borderline unplayable due to the difficulty and a great deal of fun. One early defence mission in which the team had to guard mining posts for 90 seconds was a chore when played with AI, but with real people there was the required coordination to make it a well run operation. Later on a giant Akrid whose mouth could be entered proved to be a pain in the ass with computer allies, but as four buddies together, we'd blasted off its legs and got inside in double quick time.
While the game does a fine job of providing more action and less downtime than the original Lost Planet, there are still quite a few glaring issues that will cause unnecessary frustration. The game has a lack of checkpoints that save, requiring you to play through entire chapters in order to get to a point where you can save your progress and stop playing. Couple this with the fact that you can't pause the game (a result of the game's constant online focus) and you'll have to replay some pretty substantial portions of the game.
With most of Lost Planet 2's weapons being bigger than the characters, the game offers a wallop with its gunplay and stands on its own as a respectable shooter. The gameplay mechanics are tuned nicely, allowing players to feel comfortable with the game's wide variety of weapons and vehicles from the moment they are first introduced. The grappling hook makes a return from the first game, and while it is called upon often, it is never used for frustrating do-or-die vertical navigation. When stacked up against the original title, the gameplay is tighter across the board.
I ended up playing through Lost Planet 2 nearly one and a half times. First playing through more than a third of the game with my son cooperatively using final, but not retail code, on the Xbox 360. Then finishing the campaign completely on the PlayStation 3 on my own. It's a fun game, but it's also a frustrating one. The minor issues taken alone don't seem so bad, but in a few chapters they manage to pile up in such away as to nearly destroy the experience. That's unfortunate, because plenty of what makes Lost Planet 2 so much fun, the grappling and gunning, the vital suits, can't be found in very many shooters.