Lost Planet: Extreme Condition - Review
By Dillon - March 1, 2008
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You'll wish you never found this one.
Lost Planet was originally an Xbox 360 exclusive that came out about one year ago. Capcom recently decided to port it over to the PS3. So how does this port fare? Unfortunately, not too well. The visuals are extremely lacking and the audio is not much better. The story ranges from cheesy, to confusing, to just plain ridiculous. Gameplay is a mess, and if you’re looking for any kind of entertainment, you won’t find it here. Fortunately, load times are short, but that's only due to a 20 minute required install of a 5GB cache file.
I’ll begin by saying this game looks dreadful. The animations are stuck up and over exaggerated while the textures look far too plain. The effects are simply laughable, with the fire looking reminiscent of GoldenEye on the N64. Almost everywhere you look you’ll find a pixelated mess. Even the main character model looks extremely jagged. Speaking of the character models, did these enemies come straight out of Starship Troopers? All the enemies, human or not look generic through and through. Even if the enemies were somewhat original, you’d have a hell of time trying to get a good look at them with a framerate like this. Almost never steady, the game plays more like a slideshow than an actual game, even when nothing is going on. The outdoor environments look very bland, with snow everywhere, and poor effects all around. The snow effects themselves are terrible. When walking through it you look like you’re sinking into it. Normally this would make sense, because it is snow, but there’s a difference between sinking through the snow and sinking through the snow. The indoor caves however, can look fantastic...until you start moving again. Eventually all the environments start to look the same and you grow tired of looking at the same bleak surroundings again and again. There’s lava, snow, caves, indoor infrastructures, but it all feels too similar. Once in a while I’d feel refreshed at the sight of a new level, but that quickly changed when I realized it’s all the same as before. Among all this, graphical glitches occur during cutscenes where objects appear to be floating in characters’ hands. This isn’t a huge deal, but it’s hard not to notice as it happens a lot.
The audio does fare somewhat better than the visuals. Sound effects are decent, with guns and explosions sounding like guns and explosions. Unfortunately that’s where the positive elements end. The voice acting is mediocre at best, with every line being over emphasized. The dialogue throughout the game makes little sense. It only gets worse later on, but by then you’re probably skipping the cutscenes all together. The music is absurdly annoying, and while you can adjust it, the clunky menus make it hard to navigate through the settings. Also, the volume drops during cutscenes forcing you to turn it up, that is if you actually watch the cutscenes. If you do, this can get annoying as the volume suddenly becomes loud again transitioning back into gameplay.
By now you might be wondering if there is any redeeming factor about Lost Planet. Well, the story sure isn’t it. The story is a confusing, overdramatic, and overly complicated ride of disappointment. You play as Wayne...that’s about it. You never feel attached to the main character, or any of the characters at that. Many times you will ask yourself “what the hell am I doing, and do I even care?” Chances are you won’t care for long, as the narrative is just too ridiculous to be taken seriously. You don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing, and missions feel too broken up. There are no transitions between levels, just poor cutscenes to unravel the plot (or not). You appear in random places at the start of a level without any explanation as to how you got there. It’s awkward and lacks the flow of most action titles today. In the end it all leads up to an unsatisfying and confusing finale. Little sense comes out of it all, and little reward for your hard work follows.
The gameplay... how I mourn your silly attempts at amusing me. This is supposed to be a futuristic shooter, yet the developers can’t think of any original names for the weapons in this game. The machine gun, shotgun, plasma gun, rocket launcher, and rifle are almost all the tools at your disposable, with a few variations here and there. It’s not much, and only a few feel somewhat satisfying to shoot. At first the game feels extremely sluggish, turn up the sensitivity on your controller and its better...barley. With the sensitivity up it becomes easier to turn, but harder to aim precisely. There’s never a balance of the two and you feel like your fighting the controls at all times. Not that aiming really becomes a problem as the enemies are so brain dead that they rarely look in the direction of your bullets. On normal difficulty the bad guys have an IQ of about two, while only putting up a challenge due to their numbers. A lot of the time it feels like target practice, that is, until you encounter a boss. The game is almost too easy until you begin a boss battle, which are almost always insanely cheap. You’ll often die trying to find the main baddy’s weakness, and once you do find that weakness it all comes down to luck. Whether the boss lets you unload on his weak spot or weather he instantly annihilates you is a toss up. It’s frustratingly pointless, and giving up usually seems like the best option. One positive about this is that some of the bosses feel massive in size. It can become epic, until you realize how bored and angry you are. The sense of direction in Lost Planet is quite painstaking, and the radar does not help. Too often will you be wasting time wondering where the hell you need to go. That might not be an issue with some, but it will once you realize your health is constantly draining. It’s an outdated mechanic, and it starts to get a little too arcadey when your health bar is decreasing supposedly because the planet it too cold, and your in a lava pit. This is just one of the many bad decisions when it came to this game's mechanics. Another example comes from a select few boss encounters. These guys are gigantic, and as your running from them you constantly trip. It makes sense but eventually it just becomes obnoxious. One good game mechanic is the grappling hook. At any time, you may see a ledge you can’t jump to, fear not. Press square and you will grapple onto any edge about 15 feet above you. Its fun, in fact it’s the most fun I had with Lost Planet. No joke. Of course some of the guns are fun to use, like the sniper rifle. Unfortunately the stupid AI takes any of that fun and spits all over it. A big part of Lost Planet are the VS mechs, which are basically big robots you can pilot. Some of these are fun... well actually only one of them is any fun, as the rest are slow and clunky. The Advanced VS is fast and mobile, but in this game, that matters not.
All in all this is one poorly put together piece of software. It’s short yet it feels like one hundred hours of torture. If you must play this for any reason other than to laugh at its atrocious gameplay, then do it for the grappling. Oh and Capcom brought the coins over from the 360 version of the game. These coins are scattered throughout each level, and on the 360, shooting them unlocked achievements. Since PS3 does not have an achievement system, these serve absolutely no purpose. With a seven dollar rental fee, by all means try it out, but paying full price for this would be a crime. I cannot advise you enough to stay away from this game. Oh and, there is online play but its very bare bones. It has a very slim selection of character models to choose from, one of which looks like a steroid injected Jawa from Star Wars. Its average at best, and with Call of Duty 4, Unreal Tournament 3, and Warhawk out there already, why bother? Lost Planet is not worthy to be in any PS3 owner’s library. This planet should have remained lost.
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