Lost Planet 3 – Preview
When Lost Planet 3 was announced, it came as a surprise to me – Lost Planet 2 had received generally mediocre reviews and had not sold as well as Capcom had hoped, and plenty of people thought that the second iteration of the game would also be the last. Of course, Capcom have proved them all wrong, showing more faith in the generally-maligned series than virtually anyone thought they would. In the end though, the game will have to speak for itself. At the start it looks like it’s doing everything right; set once again on the frozen planet of E.D.N III, the decision has been taken to turn back the clock and set the game before the events of the previous two. There are also hints that the game will be much more story focused than Lost Planet 2, and all signs indicate that the overly forced multiplayer campaign has been ditched. So far, so good then.
Setting the game as a prequel is a difficult move, because it means that there is an already established canon that the game has to slot into. Having said that, the small chunk story that I’ve seen seemed to do an admirable job of setting the scene through their main character Jim, as well as staying faithful to the story that has already been told. Jim is a colonist and miner who is helping make the world of E.D.N III habitable. He is in the employ of the Neo-Venus Construction company – AKA the villains of the later games – and he is mining the planet for minerals and sending them back to Earth, as well as placing thermal posts that help combat the omnipresent ice.
To do so, he is equipped with one of Lost Planet’s ever-present mechs, although this one won’t be familiar. Rather than the weaponised vs mechs that appear in the previous game, Jim is equipped with a ‘Rig’. Used as a tool for mining, it’s equipped with a large drill and a claw hand, rather than the arsenal that mechs were equipped with in previous games. One cut explicitly mentions that it is illegal to weaponise mechs, just to make sure that everyone noticed. Up to this point, everything looks all well and good; the worst features of Lost Planet 2 are nowhere to be seen, and the focus seems to be more on what made the original game a success. Sadly, words are cheap, and the gameplay needs to stand up to the promises that are being made.
Again, on the surface everything seems to be done right – you can ride a giant mech around and hit things with a drill, and when you have to leave the mech everything seems to be fine. Not amazing perhaps, but fine. When you push the analogue stick up the man walks, and when you tell him to shoot he does so. He can also do a doge roll and take cover behind things – it’s all pretty standard stuff.
The mission I got some time hands on with looked to me like it would be one that recurred more than a few times in the game. Jim was sent off to a location where he needed to place a thermal post and mine the T-energy that the colony apparently so desperately needs. Along the way he comes across some enemies that he promptly kills, has to leave the mech to take out some other bad guys, and then arrives at the beacon location, only to be greeted by a large beastie that he needs to kill in order to complete his mission. It felt like nothing more than a lazy mission-by-numbers. Somebody had been given a list of boxes to check, and they had done so. The game had no personality whatsoever, which is something that dawned on me when I checked my watch to see I’d only been playing for about ten minutes, not the half an hour I had assumed.
I’m really hoping that the boring and generic game that I played is not the game that will be released next year, because up until the moment I picked up a controller I was actually encouraged by what I had seen. It looked like it was a return to what had made the game so popular in the first place, but instead I was presented with a game that looked and felt like Dead Space, Gears of War and any other over-the-shoulder shooter you may have come across. In fact, the only things that set it apart at all were the presence of the mech and its interesting ice planet setting. Yet, five minutes into the demo I was bored stiff of the plodding mech that forced me to walk endlessly, and by the time I was shepherded into a grey, abandoned facility I had become frustrated with the game for taking everything that set it apart and then made them boring.
I want to give this game a chance, I really do. I like the concept of going back to the beginning, and I like the main character. I love the setting, and the fact that you can drive giant mechs about. There really would be a ton of stuff to like about the game if only it weren’t so damn boring. Still, the benefit of the doubt must be given, especially as the game isn’t finished; maybe they can breathe some life into it and make it worth playing. I hope they prove me wrong and produce an utterly fantastic game, and if they do I’ll be first in line to praise them for it, but for now I’ll reserve judgement until it comes out next year.
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