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Review: Lost Planet

Posted Mar-24 2008 by ron, created under common review policies
For Playstation 3. Mandatory harddrive installation: 4955MB (takes around 10 minutes 40)

In a world [dramatic pause] where giant insects feed on snow.
Where civilization was defeated by the elements and you are either a pirate yourself, or get pirated.
Where mechs are more affordable than cars.
There is only one man left. Only one hero to blast the glowing weak spots at the end of the tunnel.
This man, our last hope, shall be known as Wayne.

Wayne, Luka and Basil

Welcome to one of Lost Planet's less snowy scenes. Besides being an action spectacle, it also features lots and lots of delicious cheese-ball melodrama.

Lost Planet is a third-person shooter in a futuristic, and overwhelmingly snowy setting. The backdrop for the game is a colonization project that went wrong, and the last remnants of the population are now caught up between alien creatures and pirates. The basic controls work as you'd expect, with movement on the left analog stick and free aiming on the right, but there are some unique quirks to it. For one, because the temperatures are so hostile, the game keeps track of your thermal energy. You can replenish it from the orange blobs that are left behind by most enemies, but it keeps ticking down constantly, and depletes even faster when you take damage (it acts like a shield, basically). This gives the game a constant drive forward, as lingering in one place for too long is a risk to your health.

Fighting pirates in some ruins

Besides fighting hordes of creatures of all sizes, you'll also face many humanoid enemies.

It's presented as a series of missions, but the flow of the game is a strictly linear sequence of levels, leading through large, open outdoor areas as well as caves and industrial sites.
Your arsenal is limited to melee, grenades and two weapons. You have to discard an old one if you want to pick up another type. Wayne also has a handy grappling hook that he can use to reach higher ledges. Some of the levels take full advantage of this and have you traverse significant vertical space, which is refreshing and further adds to the identity of the game.

Activating a radar station

These small antenna-like things provide guidance to the player in Lost Planet's large and open levels. They are activated with simple button mashing, and then provide a little thermal energy and radar coverage, so that enemies show up as red dots in the circle in the top right of the screen. They also produce an arrow indicator that shows the way to the next post, which is most likely closer to the mission objective.

Another big element to the gameplay, as well as to the narrative, are the mechs. They can be conveniently found standing around (or dug out of the snow) in many areas, and generally provide more firepower and better protection. Mechs have their own weapon systems distinct from Wayne's own guns: up to two weapons can be mounted on a mech, one on each side, and they can be fired simultaneously if desired. They lie around in the environment just like Wayne's smaller weapons, and he can carry them around and even shoot them while on foot, but he will be slowed down a lot because of their higher weight.
There are many different kinds of mechs with their own small differences in control. I.e. there's a type of mech that can be transformed into a fast-moving snow-mobile, and some of the better mechs can perform double-jumps or even float small distances in mid-air.

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