We’ve had quite a few shooters involving bald space marines shooting alien scum, and most of them look, feel and play in the same fashion. It’s quite a shame that developers have not been able to figure out that environments with hues of brown and grey are getting quite boring. The original Lost Planet was different in that way, though it started out as just another Third Person Shooter. The snowy locales and aliens with glowing body parts set it apart from the others at least by the virtue of visuals, if not gameplay. And it was a success; selling over a million copies across the three platforms it was released for. So it comes as no surprise that Capcom chose to revisit the winning formula for a second time, only this time, there are a few surprises for us.
Lost Planet 2 takes place on the planet of E.D.N. III some ten years after the events of the first game. It seems that much has changed over this time period as we look at environments much more varied than the snowy landscapes of the first game. Tropical forests are now a vital part of the scenery, though why and how is a question that is yet to be answered. You will play part of a band of soldiers who are fighting the good fight to gather the precious T-ENG (Thermal Energy) from the planet’s native creatures – the Akrid. Only this time around, the Akrid are bigger and more dangerous. Variety comes not only in the form of environments, but also in the scale and scope of the fights with the Akrid.
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Capcom has realised that this generation can only be won over with a healthy dose of offline as well as online gameplay, and with this in mind, Lost Planet 2 looks to provide a cooperative mode for up to 4 players online for the main campaign. The campaign can also be taken care of by a lone player with the help of AI bots. Lost Planet 2 also becomes the first Capcom game to use its proprietary in-house MT Framework 2.0 engine, which is supposed to help it aid with more physics, particle effects and help increase the scope of gameplay.
Recently, we got to play the E3 preview code of Lost Planet 2 and the scenario laid out for us was to face a giant six-legged creature called the Salamander. The first thing you notice is that the game looks stunning. Lush environments, a rich colour palette, motion blur, and depth-of-field effects leave you with a feeling that if this is what games look like now, we can very well afford not to wait for the future. But I digress; let me come back to the game. Lost Planet still uses Thermal Energy as the form of health for the player and in this game, you can manually pump in Thermal Energy by using the Harmonizer (pressing the Start button) unlike the previous game. Thermal Energy can also be gained by setting up data-posts around the level.
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Among weapons, we found machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers, grenades and even a Gattling gun. There are two weapons that you can use and switch between at a time. You can also use mech suits (known as Vital Suits) to help you out, and we found quite a few of them all over the Salamander level. Each has their own strengths; some with higher offensive power than the others while some are easier to move around in. The grappling hook is also back in Lost Planet 2, and you can use it not only to climb up on things but also to stick to them. For example, you can now stick off a ledge using the hook, the caveat being that you cannot shoot while you are doing the spider act. You can even use the hook to climb up on the beast and attack its glowing weak points for some massive damage.
Coming back to our jaunt with the Salamander, let’s just say we did not quite fare well. It has quite a few weak points on its body, indicated by a bright orange glow that you can target. After some damage though, it has a tendency to dive into a stream and come back with regenerated health and vigour. If you do manage to damage it significantly, it lets out an electric charge which reduces your health to an extent where you are sure to die unless you hurriedly use the Harmonizer.
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The Salamander can also swallow you and it leads to a rather disgusting travel down to its core, which you can damage significantly provided you are not busy thwarting attacks from creatures in its belly. Needless to say, we died a lot. But it did provide the knowledge that this is a game built ground-up for co-operative action and playing it alone was not the best way to tackle it. In this context, it needs to be stated that our AI teammates did absolutely nothing to help us and somehow they were busy taking shelter in some corner of the map. While I do not expect this to be the case with the retail version of the game, I did not quite appreciate the fact that I got hammered by the Salamander for the lack of support from the AI mates.
All in all, Lost Planet 2 is looking great and more importantly, playing great. I would confidently say that we are looking at another awesome game from Capcom. Though we played this preview build on the Xbox 360, it is also slated to be released on the PlayStation 3 some time next year, and as with other Capcom releases, the PC version will probably be further delayed.
Title: Lost Planet 2
Genre: Third-person Shooter
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Release date: 2010