The Lost Planet franchise is one of the most sporadic and fidgety series of games I know.
The first was a standard shooter with some interesting game play quirks. The second was crammed with useless junk which turned it into a deformed monster with small glimmers of fun, like blowing up a giant spider with a laser.
And now, after seeing the demo, Lost Planet 3 feels like a total abandonment of the previous installments, giving off the impression of a mildly similar game that just shares the title.
I’ve mentioned before that the Lost Planet series is my favourite video game franchise of all time (No, I’m not joking), so I was ecstatic when Lost Planet 3 was announced. But, after seeing the trailer and the demo, it looks like another twisted ‘improvement’ on the first game.
To put it simply; this does not feel like a Lost Planet game. You can’t just throw a character called Gale in the mix and make it all connect together. The innovations here seem too vast and different to be called improvements. Instead it comes off as a careless shifting of the formula when they may as well have just made an original game.
A very wise and incredibly handsome man once said: “The best game sequels are the ones that stay true to the core of its predecessor”, and this is not staying true to the core of Lost Planet.
Enough with the introduction. Let’s rip apart the juicy demo that’s just been released.
It’s Jim’s Story
Characterizing Jim as much as they are is easily the most non-Lost Planet-y thing to do. So far, the most developed character in the franchise is Wayne from Lost Planet 1, but he quickly turned into a walking gun by the third stage, so being more developed than him is not such a feat.
Their attempts at making us care about Jim aren’t really doing much now since nothing has happened to him that isn’t automatically happening to everyone else. Jim’s attachment with his wife and son are heartfelt, but haven’t been shown to go anywhere yet. I hope there is some tragedy that Jim must overcome, otherwise it’s just them crudely making us care with no zero pay off.
I admit they are doing a surprisingly good job at making Jim seem as naturally human as possible, as well as the other characters that we see in this facility. They all feel tired and worn out, but are still working hard to get the job done. Their discussions are just like talks I would have at my own workplace.
Lost Planet 1 and 2 did an unintentionally good job at feeling isolated and, ironically enough, ‘cold’. These characters do wash away these atmospheric imperatives but add a sense of ‘humanity’ that was sorely missing from the series. I only hope they don’t go too far and end up turning what should be an epic action shooter into a science fiction character drama.
My dismissive nature towards the emotional focus in Lost Planet 3 is mainly because I’m used to the previous games, where they tried to make us care about its characters, failed, and ended up making it even more atmospheric…at least for me.
The Giant Bipedal Drill
Now, the RIG is fascinating to me. Its size and structure is practical and the Walkman to iPhone comparison they mentioned makes perfect sense here.
I’m still confused as to why it doesn’t have some weapons attached, like a single gattling gun, or even a dagger, like in Avatar. That may look stupid, but remember, in Lost Planet 2 you blew up a giant worm with a canon on a train. Maybe ‘stupid’ is exactly what this game needs.
Piloting the RIG appears slow and clunky, and the battles with larger creature look like quick-time-events behind the mask of visceral action. Hopefully they won’t make the player traverse long stretches of terrain just to reach predictable objectives and challenges. However, I’m reminded of that one moment in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception where you make Drake trek through the desert, which was my favourite part of the game, surprisingly. Using the jagged, barren landscape of E.D.N III to instill feelings of isolation and helplessness may work wonders for the mood in Lost Planet 3, as well as bringing it closer to the first Lost Planet’s hostile atmosphere.
The ability to ‘jump’ in and out of your RIG is a very necessary addition to the game play, but it does hint at the fact that you may have to constantly exit the massive machine to shoot off the ice that encrusts its legs.
This does add a sense of realism, which is jarring when compared to the previous games, and may quickly become tedious. Also, it seems that the only reason this happens to your RIG is to force Jim out and have contrived moments of vulnerability against the wildlife. And now we get to the Akrid.
Why are you making the Akrid look mammalian?! Wasps, worms, spiders, jellyfish, eels and beetles! That’s it! They shouldn’t look different just because this is a prequel. It’s not like this takes place 200,000,000 years before Lost Planet 1.
I instantly disliked the look of the Akrid that were shown in the trailer, since they don’t even look like they could survive in the freezing temperatures. Jim also not wearing warm head gear is astoundingly stupid. Maybe there will be a plot point where his ears crack off his head like dead leaves.
Granted, this is a demo, and the Ice Crab is more reminiscent of the creature designs from the previous games. But, for the love of god, at least have a chryatis in there. That is the most well known and recognizable Akrid from the entire series, and it just won’t be the same without it. Why didn’t you put them in the trailer? That would have been awesome…anyway.
They did say that the Ice Crab is not the biggest creature in the game, and that should go without saying. Category G Akrid are living towers and they need to make appearances here. I’ll even allow them to bring back some that we’ve already seen, like Queen or Saizarod, for nostalgia sake. It’d certainly connect the games more effectively than just having a guy called Gale in there.
One of the greatest moments in every Lost Planet game is defeating a boss, causing it to freeze solid and shatter into hundreds of pieces. Thankfully, this happens here, and the smaller ice chunks can even be broken apart into smaller pieces. I like that, but I won’t be impressed until that is used on much MUCH larger enemies.
I am very relieved that the Akrid still have weak spots. However, when they are shot, they don’t have the ‘crackle’ that they had before. It’s like Jim is shooting a sponge filled with tomato juice.
And there’s an issue here that I still have with Lost Planet 1 and 2. These glowing parts of the Akrid are their WEAK POINTS. When they get shot there, they should react accordingly. Think of a fight between two men. They’re both going to get hits in when they can, but are still going to protect their groin, ‘cause when they get hit in that weak spot; they’re down for the day. The Akrid may be alien monsters, but they’re still animals.
The demo does show the Ice Crab collapsing when its arm gets severed, which is good, but not when it’s actually getting shot, which is bad. It’s like these creatures don’t even know that their weak points are weak at all.
Aiming for an Akrids head while grappling with them is a very clever improvement here. However it doesn’t really give off the impression of swiping a blade. The icon is more reminiscent of a gun’s cross hair, and may be awkward to instinctively understand during the game.
The Akrid are a major part of the Lost Planet series, and easily the most interesting and unique. Do not screw them up.
The horror element they’re going for is an incredibly odd addition to the franchise.
There was a brief time when I thought that Lost Planet 3 was going to be the Dead Space 3 game that couldn’t be made with that title, for some reason. And excluding the display that projects information out of your arm that made me want to ‘fanboy puke’, these claustrophobic and ‘scary’ moments inside the facility are too close to Dead Space for comfort.
Lost Planet is an ACTION franchise and they show this for the demo? I’m glad that these ‘horror’ moments aren’t even half of the game’s content, or so they say, but including them at all is just a weirdly unnecessary decision.
Apparently, your pistol NEVER runs out of ammunition, so they’ve already hindered the sense of vulnerability in these situations. And since I’m overly conservative when it comes to ammunition, I’m probably not going to experiment with my weapons as much as I should.
And that’s pretty much it.
As probably the biggest Lost Planet fan in the world, I’m still rather dubious about this. It’s going to have to show off much more for me to warm up to this being Lost Planet 3, and not Man On Ice Planet Shoots Things…And Also There’s Some Horror Moments In There.
Overall, I’m just glad that the series I love is still continuing in some way. As soon as I see a giant centipede as a boss fight, I’m sold…and the game will be too.