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Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (PlayStation 3) artwork

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (PlayStation 3) review

"I wonder how I would like this game if it ran buttery smooth. As is, Lost Planet is a pretty flawed game to begin with. Add in the fact that you have to play it in slow motion and have your mind assaulted by terrible, long cutscenes and it's kind of a torturous experience."

I like to play games at thematically appropriate times. I love playing horror games in October, and I love playing snowy games in winter when there is snow outside. I've had such great experiences with other media during winter. I watched the movie The Thing during a blizzard and read Mouse Guard Winter 1152 when a large amount of snow was on the ground. The extra immersion provided by being in an environment that mimics what you are watching or reading really added to those great experiences. Unfortunately, despite the fact that there is a little bit of snow on the ground as I write this, my experience playing Lost Planet was not an enjoyable one.

Lost Planet is a great concept. You are a guy on an ice planet that is inhabited by giant insect-like creatures. Killing allows you to collect thermal energy from their bodies. This is key to survival as there isn't really any other source of heat on the planet. Gameplay-wise, you run around on foot shooting creatures and rival humans but can also jump into any mech you find, and there are lots of mechs laying around for you to play with. It's seems like such a great idea, but the game fails to execute in almost every way possible.

First off, the story is downright terrible to the point where I shouldn't even really tell you about it. You play as a guy named Wayne who is working with some people he just met and discovering stuff about his past, the planet, and the high-tech device that's strapped to his arm. It's total garbage. The writing and dialogue are really bad, as is the voice acting. The characters are all annoying and stupid. And unfortunately, there are tons of cutscenes. I even skipped one, which is something I almost never do even in games with really bad stories.

Then there's the gameplay. It's a 3rd person shooter. You run around with the left stick, aim with the right, and shoot with R2. Clicking the right stick manually reloads your weapon (which I really like. I also really like that the ammo you have left is displayed on your reticle). Square lets you use your grappling hook, which is pretty cool. You can hook onto anything and pull yourself up really quickly. If you stand next to a mech and press O, you jump inside. Mechs control much the same, but most of them can equip two weapons which can be fired independently with L2 and R2. They can also do some special things depending on the model, such as dashing or high-jumping with triangle or flying for a limited time by pressing X in the air.

The biggest problem with the gameplay is that the framerate slows to a crawl whenever there is a lot going on, which is just about always. You are often facing a lot of big enemies, and because of that you are almost always playing in slow motion. The game's boss fights are exceptionally bad at this. Some of them feel like they've suddenly switched you over to moon gravity. I've heard that the PS3 version of Lost Planet is a bad port, so I wonder if the 360 version runs smoothly. I probably don't have to tell you that this kind of slowdown could ruin even the most fun game in the world. Unfortunately there are a lot of design flaws to the gameplay that would hurt it even if it ran like a dream.

For one thing, throughout most of the game you are a totally unstoppable one man army. And I don't just mean that you kill a lot of enemies, which is part of every action game. I mean that over and over again you will see a literal army of enemies ahead and you can waltz right in and kill them all and be in very little danger. This is especially apparent when you fight human enemies. You fight them as much as you fight the weird insects if not more, and they pose very little threat to you. So level after level, you just run straight at them and kill them all. In general, when you are on foot, you can just equip the machine gun and run straight at them, shooting as you go. There are other weapons, but they are almost all useless compared to the unparalleled might of running at people with your machine gun. If you are in a mech, you can just strafe and fire until they damage your mech. Then you hop out, walk right over to the next mech, jump in, and repeat. There are a handful of levels that put you in interesting tactical problems where you can actually be killed. These scenarios (of which there are maybe 2 in the whole game) are fun and interesting. But in general you can either massacre the poor soldiers you face or practically run right past them. There's noting to it. Fighting creatures is a bit more challenging, but in general still pretty easy. I know this problem could be solved by cranking up the difficulty, but I have no intention of playing the game over again. I don't think making it harder would make it any more fun, it would just make the levels take longer to beat. This makes the fact that the levels are easy even more annoying.

The gigantic boss monsters and mechs you fight pose the biggest threat. They can and will kill you. Unfortunately they aren't a fun challenge. Most of them have pretty standard patterns that reveal their weak spot to you. They also usually take place in small arenas that feel really cramped, especially since the levels themselves usually have a nice big feel to them. I was dying for one of the boss fights to take place in a big open area or big building you can run around in, but disappointingly it never happens. And the final boss fight features some truly nasty invisible walls and a really wonky sense of being a pointless slugfest. That final battle really sums up the feeling of almost all of the non-stop combat in the game: uninteresting and pointless.

The mechanical design is above average. The way the cockpits of the mechs close up and the design of the mech weapons is especially cool. Creature design ranges from quite cool to ok. The character design is really good for some characters and quite bad for others. The epic movie score soundtrack is pretty well done.

I wonder how I would like this game if it ran buttery smooth. There certainly are good elements to it, such as the grappling hook and the way you can switch out to new mechs you find laying around. And the mechanic of having to kill enemies to get heat energy to keep yourself alive is a great idea, although with the exception of the few fun, tactical scenarios I mentioned above, this idea barely comes into play. As is, Lost Planet is a pretty flawed game to begin with. Add in the fact that you have to play it in slow motion and have your mind assaulted by terrible, long cutscenes and it's kind of a torturous experience. It's a 2 out of 10.


Robotic_Attack's avatar
Community review by Robotic_Attack (February 16, 2015)

Robotic Attack reviews every game he plays... almost.

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