Lost Planet Review
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition certainly creates a unique world for its
setting. The planet E.D.N. III is a frozen wasteland populated by aggressive
beasts of all sizes known as the Akrid and home to roving gangs of mech-riding
pirates perpetually at war with each other. The brutal cold is so harsh that it
will eat away at your health if you donít constantly replenish the thermal
energy that serves as your shield. The game does a great job of bringing this
environment to life, as you move between frozen wastes beset by howling winds to
abandoned cities locked in massive snow drifts. The constant leaching of your
thermal energy drives home the feeling that it is indeed horrendously cold on
E.D.N. III and adds tension to the game even when youíre not beset by Akrid and
pirates. All of this sounds great and it can be fun, but for every cool idea
(sorry) the game puts forward thereís a corresponding issue that takes some of
the fun out of it.
Lost Planet comes across as a bit of a confused game. It seems that there was little communication or coordination between the teams designing the environments, the mission goals, and the story. The game is set in the future on a distant world but youíll see things like city streets straight out of a small Midwestern town or SUVs trapped in snow drifts. Humanity has been trying to colonize the world for 150 years, but why mankind is interested in a planet that makes Hoth look like Aruba is not really all that clear. And then thereís the nearly nonsensical story which canít even quite manage to explain why youíre undertaking your next mission Ö and why your team always sends you out alone to do the dirty work (it could be because the snowsuit worn by the woman on the team would give her a severe case of mammary glandular frostbite). Thankfully you can just skip these overly long and pointless cutscenes and just go into your next mission purely for the fun of dealing out death to giant monsters and ice pirates.
When youíre trudging through the snow on a mission youíll need to monitor your thermal energy level. Once this is drained to zero youíll begin losing health and will die if you donít find any thermal energy sources. While this was undoubtedly added to apply a little pressure to the gameplay, in practice it essentially becomes a non-factor. This is because itís never hard to find thermal energy. Everything that you kill drops it, Akrid or human, and you can always blow-up a derelict tank or similar structure to find some as well. The game will let you pour more and more energy into your pool to the point where you really donít need to worry about it. I didnít die once from lack of thermal energy while playing the game.
Between fighting humans and fighting Akrid, the time spent with the game taking on the Akrid is a lot more fun. The AI for your human enemies is just a notch or two above brain dead. Most of the time theyíll simply stand around taking an occasional shot at you as if they are just trying to kill a little time while waiting for you to pick them off one by one. Sometimes they take a position behind cover, but then they wonít do anything after that. You donít even need to bother killing them all as the game only cares that you get to the end of the path to trigger the missionís boss battle. Your human enemies will often have a few guys in Vital Suits Ė or, VS, the gameís name for mechs Ė but even these arenít that much of a danger to you. When I get a hold of a VS I go at the enemy with the triggers squeezed tightly, but each time I face an enemy VS it is content to level the occasional potshot at me. As if all this didnít make things easy enough, the game will autotarget enemies for you. You donít even need to aim straight at them Ė the game will often assume that you meant to aim at enemy anyway, so thatís where it may as well redirect your gunfire.