What I am about to say will most definitely diminish my reputation as someone who is doing a surprisingly good job at pretending to be a credible Video Game Critic, but…
…the Lost Planet series is my favourite video game franchise…ever.
And yet, the games suck, I can easily admit to that.
But I love the Lost Planet games for a very simple reason. It’s not the mediocre story, the immensely entertaining game play or the awesomely epic soundtrack. I love it because it’s the only franchise that I don’t have to ‘share’ with other people. I’ll explain, or try to explain, what exactly that means later.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2006, I was doing some harmless television watching when this advertisement came on:
I guess the commercial worked because now I wanted this game more than anything I could imagine. Fighting giant bugs in the snow with mechs? That’s right up my obnoxiously exciting alley.
Lost Planet hit me hard. It did so many things wrong but I was able to work with it so naturally that it became one of my favourite games ever.
I found the barren and frozen landscape amazingly engaging, made even more so when giant alien insects exploded out of the ground and attacked me.
The whole experience dripped with effective isolation and an overall sense of dread
The story of Lost Planet is vague and uninteresting, but all I cared about was controlling my gun touting, health regenerating human, Wayne, as he single-handedly takes on an army of snow pirates, dozens of huge bugs and finishes it all off by blowing up a 100 foot tall insect queen.
The whole experience dripped with effective isolation and an overall sense of dread without diminishing a single ounce of entertainment. I love it, even to this day.
Lost Planet 2: Extreme Disappointment
Lost Planet 2 however was one step forward and two steps back off the side of a cliff. The lone man fighting the harsh elements on the icy tundra of EDN III (That’s the planet’s name by the way) was replaced by a group of vacuous soldiers fighting other vacuous soldiers in random places for some reason.
Granted, Lost Planet 1 went down-hill fast when it completely abandoned the snow terrain and introduced the volcano section about half way through, but now it may as well have been another standard shooter, with a couple bugs thrown in for the sake of it.
I first caught a glimpse of Lost Planet 2 in 2009, when I saw a tiny icon of it on my friends PS3 menu. What followed was me shouting “Lost Planet 2!? Lost Planet 2!? Lost Planet 2!? Lost Planet 2!?”. I’m not joking, I actually did do that.
And just like that; Lost Planet 2 became my most anticipated game ever, slightly beating Mass Effect 2.
I saw countless trailers, probably looked at every single picture that existed about it, but it was only until I watched and read reviews about it that my heart sank. It was bad? How?! How could they screw up shooting bugs with guns? So, I RENTED Lost Planet 2 when it came out and I experienced it for the stunted, annoying, broken mess that it was.
The good moments, fighting Queen, using a gargantuan laser and even the music were crushed by the horrendous controls, annoying deaths and that GOD DAMN train level.
Sure, they had new and exciting weapons and insects to shoot at, but it was implemented so poorly that I could barely care. The last time I played LP2 was about two years ago. As soon as I had earned every collectable item that was there, I turned it off, and never went back.
But still, it is one of my favourite games of all time. I embraced the flaws, powered through, grinded levels, reveled in the boss battles and the awesome soundtrack.
The Lost Planet universe is one that I love. If only because I feel like I’m the only person who knows it even exists. That’s what I meant when I said “I don’t have to ‘share’ with other people”. It’s like the series was tailored specifically to me, and nobody else. It’s the only franchise that I can call ‘mine’.
Lost Planet 3: Extreme Anticipation
I wanted a Lost Planet 3 more than any other game that I could imagine. I could see the immense potential the series still possesses, but I woefully accepted that all the stories on the frozen planet of EDN III were done.
But now, right out of bloody nowhere, they’re making a Lost Planet 3. I don’t know what to say…except:
When I saw that the Lost Planet Facebook page changed their profile photo to the picture above I literally had to cover my mouth to stop myself from making too much noise and waking up my parents.
It was like a dream, my favourite video game franchise, brought back for another round!
But I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t critique the scarce amount of stuff I’ve seen so far and make wild and ill-informed accusations about this game. Let’s go!
First the trailer:
This trailer surprised me. Who the hell is this guy?! Are they trying to create a charismatic character for Lost Planet 3? Because that’s a horrible idea.
After playing games like Dark Souls, Dead Space and even Lost Planet 2; I tend to prefer my playable character to be quiet and faceless. It allows me to instantly place my thoughts into who I’m controlling, instead of being constantly reminded that I’m essentially role-playing.
When I eventually start Lost Planet 3, and I get killed by a giant Akrid (Those are the bugs names by the way, I probably should have mentioned that earlier) I want to say “Oh no, I just died.” Not: “Oh no, Jim, who is a character and main protagonist in this game got killed by a bug.”
But since the trailer shows Jim spouting crudely relatable things like “Come on!” and “You got to be kidding me!”; it’s clear that they’re trying to make him a likeable character which, I believe, will distract people from the barren and isolated feel the first Lost Planet mastered.
The best advice I can give the developers of Lost Planet 3 in relation to Jim is: Keep. Him. Vague.
The Akrid in Lost Planet 1 and 2 had a very ‘crusty’ feel to it, like they were carved out of a mountain
There’s new Akrid. That’s pretty cool I guess. However they don’t look that similar to how they were in the previous games. The Akrid in Lost Planet 1 and 2 had a very ‘crusty’ feel to it, like they were carved out of a mountain. This texture highlighted their glowing red weak-spots which you shot to freeze them to death, like popping a giant pimple.
Here, they just look like random alien monsters ; I can barely tell if they have any glowing red spots at all, which was easily the most prominent feature from their previous appearances.
If I had my way, all the Akrid would be spindly, overconfident insect-y creatures that lurch back in excruciating pain when their limbs get blasted off.
But now we’ve got these odd ferocious beasts and this weird ice crab thing. Not bad, but they need to be a bit less monstrous and more unfamiliar and creepy. The Saizorod is a perfect example of an akrid that felt soulless, animalistic yet effectively alien and unknown.
Finally we have huge Mechs. Now, I didn’t like the Vital Suits in both Lost Planet games, as they made every situation they were in obnoxious, boring and too easy. Most of the time I happily resorted to fighting the monumental enemies on foot, which made the experience feel more personal and rewarding.
I don’t mind them still appearing in the game, since the story and setting wouldn’t make much sense if people just ran from outpost to outpost on foot, but Lost Planet 3 needs to understand what made the first Lost Planet so good and the second so bad. Individual isolation.
Jumping into a giant machine and blowing giant bugs apart is much less engaging then shooting off their arms or legs of one and watching it freeze in place before you shatter it into dozens of pieces with your grappling hook.
Apparently, the Mechs aren’t actually military vehicles in LP3, rather, advanced mining equipment. This may make combat in these suits much more visceral and intense since you have to literally ‘mine’ through a creature instead of shooting rockets in its general direction.
That’s it for the trailer, now onto some pictures, and sticking with the Mech topic:
I’m pretty dubious about this. Lost Planet has NEVER done ANYTHING in first person (Excluding some rare cinematics). Because of this; it made combat unrestrictive and gave every location a more lonely and foreboding aura to it.
This looks like a generic action section where you just whack things with your drill like a giant Big Daddy from BioShock.
The camera being placed into first person could make for some very claustrophobic areas
But, I’m not going to brand Lost Planet 3 for this just yet. The camera being placed into first person could make for some very claustrophobic areas, and they seem to be using storms in some way, so I’m hoping for some moody situations where you try and find your way back to your base when you can only see about 1 foot outside your Mech’s window while you’re getting attacked by giant worm monsters. They probably won’t do that…
Next picture please:
Okay….where the HELL are the red glowing points!? They better be on its back, because I will be OUTRAGED if they just take them out for no reason. That’s what made Lost Planet’s game play so engaging. Virtually all akrid had completely impenetrable skin with small gaps where you could hope to damage them, which made fighting them intense and tactical.
These weak spots were usually connected to other parts of the creatures bodies, which resulted in their limbs snapping off so it dynamically changed how you took down each one. The Chryatis is a classic example of this, as both its arms could be blown off causing it to collapse onto the ground yet was still able to bite you.
But here, are we just going to have to shoot them a lot until they stop attacking us? Where’s the fun in that!?
The Akrid were the most interesting part of both Lost Planet games so huge attention must be put on them here. Don’t you dare screw them up!
This intrigues me. This installment, in a primarily action based franchise, is actually focusing more on story and RPG elements. My initial reaction was one of anger and betrayal.
Lost Planet is about running around in the ice and blowing stuff up, not talking to people and being invested in a story. But I think this is actually a very nice change of pace. It will open up the world of EDN III a lot more, allowing you to do side missions as well as the main story at your own pace.
And a deeper focus on story wouldn’t go amiss, especially since I didn’t care in any miniscule way as to what was going on in LP 1 or 2.
Lost Planet 3 is a prequel, which I instantly thought was a lazy way of handling the ending of LP2. But now, after a little research I’m interested with how they’re dealing with this idea. The story so far has been vague and uninteresting, so now they have the opportunity to shed some much needed light on their franchise.
I only hope that they utilize the frozen landscape effectively and not just cram us into a boring base full of boring NPCs.
Lost Planet 3 needs to stay dynamic. Don’t give us a mission where you have to help someone buy a part for their mech. Have a mission where a 600 foot tall Akrid stole your hat and you’re going to get it back, ‘cause nobody messes with Jim and gets away with it!!!
Final picture (At least for this article):
Now THIS is more like it. This is what Capcom and Spark Unlimited should have covering their office walls, just to remind them what they need to do here.
I love this picture; it gives me hope for what an amazing game Lost Planet 3 could be. The huge dormant mech, one man (Who I assume is Jim) standing alone and the huge ice-covered world of EDN III all around him. This is what Lost Planet 3 should be; isolated and immersive…with a giant centipede as a boss!