Wot I Think: Lost Planet 2

By Jim Rossignol on October 20th, 2010 at 5:25 pm.


Lost Planet 2 came out on PC last week, and I’ve been having a poke about inside its giant alien carcass with a long stick of criticism. It’s a game that earned a fairly mixed reception in console land, but how about that transition to PC? Here’s Wot I Think.

There are certain games that you want to forgive. Beguiling creatures that, despite their flaws, have a pushy charisma that forces you onwards. For all Lost Planet 2′s faults, there was something that kept me going, something valuable and violent, like a box of illegal fireworks. To complete that line of thinking, I should point out that we did end up getting burned.


I suppose there’s a degree to which both the Lost Planet games are the response of a Japanese studio to Western action game pressures. With all the dudes in armour running about shooting in third-person it almost feels like it could have come from any studio in the world, but then there’s also much about the game that could /only/ have come from a Japanese studio. It feels particularly logical that it should have been struck from the anvil of Capcom’s energetic eccentricities. Those armoured folk, that you can customise at the front end of the game, and who are at once faceless, anonymous avatars and also the most stylish thing about the game, feel unlike almost any other armoured dudes I can think of. The proverbial space marines they are not. They are, perhaps, close to space samurai. Space ronin. Space ninjas.


It’s that sense of originality within clearly defined parameters of running and gunning that I think interests me most about Lost Planet 2. The world design in the original was pretty fantastic, with its mechs, intense alien giants, corporate stormtroopers and “snow pirates”, but in Lost Planet 2 that has just exploded out of control, with multiple factions, exotic locations, giant supercannons on rails, ludicrous, unfathomable plotting, and lavish visual design in almost every area. Each individual soldier, every absurd energy-excreting alien, and each shiny, rumbling environment, is fantastically imagined, and the result is one of the most visually impressive games on the PC.

So, draped with these imaginative riches, Lost Planet 2 is essentially just this: a linear third-person shooter. Not much more, and no less. There are some true multiplayer bits, but I haven’t looked at those, I’ve just been blasting my way through the campaign which is, well, multiplayer too. It’s four-player co-op throughout, and actually multiplayer by default. If you don’t want random people dropping into your game to play with you then you will need to set it up as an offline game, and then rely on the bots. The bots are a little scatterbrained, but they get the job done. Playing with strangers works fine, because there’s not much you can screw up. That’s mostly how I played: set up a game and let people join. Mostly it was full and ready to go within a couple of minutes. Playing with friends is, probably, optimal. But I will come back to that.


Each episode of the game sees you engaged in some shooty activities with a team of four men. It’s not the same four men for each episode, which is a little strange, because they might as well have been, but instead they are a different four, each time representing a different faction’s story and interests on the planet of E.D.N. III. Generally this involves killing the men from other factions, and then having a ludicrous, hyperbolic battle with one of the aliens – an akrid – which is a gigantic boss fight where you shoot the glowing bit and gasp in awe as limbs the size of intercity trains go flying. And trains do go flying too, on one level, while you are being chased at 100mph by what appears to be the sandworm from Dune. It’s fucking incredible. (Alternatively: DEATHWORM!)

Where the planet was once frozen, with the life of the snow pirates maintained by their collection of “thermal energy” from native fauna, it is now a range of environments, including jungle, desert, and urban sprawls. (That thermal energy still plays a role, but it’s now mostly about healing you up. You can’t die from simply being too cold, which I seem to recall was an excruciating probability in the original game. It’s also the only real concession I found to co-op play, in that sharing thermal energy is often vital to survival.) The pace through all of this is fairly breakneck. Thanks to the tiny silicon brains of the consoles, each of the levels is generally just a few minutes long. The slightly longer missions generally involving a defence of an area or a battle with one of the mega-akrids, remains in a single area. Lost Planet 2 looks consistently amazing, but we pay the price for that in the constricted arenas in which the action takes place. Initially this irritated me, but after a while I saw each end chapter screen as a high score table, and the game as a bite-size shooter, each level a neat, potent envelope.


Sadly the gunplay is rather variable. Occasionally all the baddies work as intended, and the scripting throws fun stuff at you – the battles with the mechs are particularly stupendous, especially when you are smacking them about at close range with the enormously powerful shotgun – but it’s all absurdly easy, with the “failed” state of all four of you being dead at the same time being a remote possibility in all but the most fraught situations. The humanoid baddies are generally a little wonky, with many of them failing to respond correctly to your presence, and simply waiting around to be shot. Their deployment in the world is often crappy too, appearing in doorways that you need to travel through, or simply standing near the exit, like so many dejected mannequins out the back of a sci-fi department store.

Thanks to this shooting gallery behaviour, and by comparison to the fluid and dynamic combat that we get to see in any number of contemporary shooters, Lost Planet 2 feels a little limp. The beauty of the game does much to gloss over this – and grappling hooks are never a bad thing – but it’s only really in the boss battles that I really felt a buzz of challenge or excitement. Vast alien creatures pissing out death rays and noise, I was keen to show this element of the game off to John and Quintin. We decided to play a game together. I’d carefully ignored that the game was based on Games For Windows Live up to this point, because my login worked fine, had no impact on the offline game, and had been fine for joining or hosting with other random users. Organising a co-op game with RPS, however, led us to familiar pain.


Quintin’s name had to be case-sensitive, which took a few minutes to fathom. John couldn’t log in at all, because something had happened to his GFWL logins (both of them!) What had happened? We still don’t know, but they didn’t work. Then, infuriatingly, the game told Quintin that he couldn’t join me in my campaign because he hadn’t already played the game up to the point I was at. We would have to start from the beginning, and we did, but fuck it, what was the point if I couldn’t show off the battle with the absurd ultrabeast? We played for a while, but the longed-for magic wasn’t there. And there was no option for text-based chat. For all the otherwise seamlessly ported PC controls, here was one I couldn’t forgive when Quintin was without a mic. I let out a long breath and alt-tabbed out to start writing this review.

You know what I’m going to say now. Lost Planet 2 isn’t a total loss. It’s often visually extraordinary, even by current gen standards. But it is a game you should wait to be on sale before you point your credit nozzle in its direction. It’s one of a vast catalogue of games whose fragile potential genius has been smothered with the heavy pillow of bad design. I wanted to love it. I can’t recommend it without reservation. And still I am glad of the time we spent together.

One final thing. Look at the hats on these dudes:

Amazing.

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63 Comments »

  1. SquareWheel says:

    Damn my short attention span.

  2. Ian says:

    It’s ICE to see-… wait, it doesn’t have the cold-theme? Damn it.

  3. Eclipse says:

    Co-op based games are fun, but one with a solid singleplayer mode are better

  4. Hippo says:

    I played this on the 360, in coop mode. Was okay until some dreadful tentacle boss thing. I think we actually managed to kill it, but for some reason the game bugged and we failed somehow.

  5. Michael says:

    Am I the only one curious why the fellow in the topmost picture is wearing half a gas mask? Did the goggles do nothing?

    • EthZee says:

      None of the player characters in this game have faces. It’s all masks, rebreathers, full-face-helmets, more masks, hoods, etc.

      Essentially, it’s Gas Mask Mooks; the video game. (And that’s partially why I love it)

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Some of the gas-mask/hat combos are amazing. One guy has got a kind of flying saucer for a head. He’s in charge, you see.

    • EthZee says:

      I just think it’s refreshing to see a game where most if not all characters understand the benefits of wearing headgear. The customisation is excellent.

      Plus, taunts. The ability to make the player character dance, hop up and down like a japanese schoolgirl, or Pose Like a Team should be in all games.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Pose as a Team?

      Well that obviously outweighs all the negatives of this game.

  6. Dominic White says:

    So, you reviewed an entirely co-op centric game with only a cursory glance at co-op? And complain that the (deliberately difficulty-nerfed) singleplayer was too easy?

    Oh dear. Not up to RPS standards, this one.

    Seriously, the game is even more co-op centric than Left 4 Dead. In singleplayer, those bots act purely as ammo/health dispensers, and don’t even cost you anything when they die. With other human players, suddenly you’re all a lot more fragile, can be knocked around easier, and really need to coordinate to win, especially on the higher difficulties.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Er, no.

      I played mostly co-op with other internet randoms. Hosting a game or getting a quick match fills up pretty quickly. Getting it to work smoothly with the people I actually wanted to play with was the issue.

      And I don’t think that it’s more co-op than L4D. We occasionally needed to share thermal energy, even on hard, but that was it. It was mostly about not running out of ammo, at least for my part.

    • Dominic White says:

      I apologize if I misread things. As for co-op, it doesn’t really shine until you’re on your second playthrough. Extreme difficulty cranks up the hurt a lot, and significantly increases the chance of a full-team wipe.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Does that unlock after one playthrough then?

      (What is it with Capcom games being better on the second go? Madness.)

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, it’s the first thing to unlock after you beat the campaign on Normal or Hard. Hell, you’ll be unlikely to see most of the weapons until you’re on a second playthrough anyway.

      And Capcom and Konami are just about the only two big studios out there who put real replay value in their games. Almost every developer these days just slaps in a generic ‘hard’ mode where enemies do twice as much damage and call that incentive, which is pretty crap.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Ok, i see. I will try hosting a game on extreme.

    • DrGonzo says:

      It’s artificial replay value and it sucks! Take out most of the game and only unlock it for your second play through. I really hate that seeing as I very rarely play games through more than once unless they were particularly good or are very non-linear.

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s a multiplayer-centric game designed for replay value. Offering new stuff on repeat plays is a GOOD thing. Once you start getting into the more advanced elements (swapping out your simple, newbie-friendly perks for more risky, powerful ones is a good move), and start using the variant weapons, the game opens up somewhat.

  7. oceanclub says:

    “a linear third-person shooter”

    There’s a phrase that screams “curb your enthusiasm”.

    P.

    • Wulf says:

      You know, I’m still waiting for this spat of third person linear games to figure out pseudo-linearity, things will get more interesting, then. Retro Studios got it to a degree, it worked quite well in Metroid Prime, and sequence breaking is always fun, but some of these linear games would benefit by allowing the player to play the content slightly out of order, with the plot redesigned just a little bit in those cases to suit that.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I always felt like “an number of options from a hub level” was a good way to stave off the linearity a bit.

    • Matt says:

      Just as long as they don’t take it too far, like in the first Hexen.

  8. Durkan says:

    I played this on 360 as well…

    Totally agree about the levels being short. They’re “OMG that’s it? the end is here ? I only came around the one corner..” short.

    A bit like playing tennis in a phonebox. A beautiful and well appointed phonebox but still too small especially for doubles.

    Shame cos I loved the first one.

    • EthZee says:

      That bugged me in the beginning, but as I began to play more co-op, I realised that the score and ranking system actually made shorter levels a plus – think of each section as a race. Shoot! Loot! Get a better ranking than your “team-mates”.

      (And I’ve just realised that it reminds me a lot of the way that Doom is structured – lots of short levels wrapped up in Episodes)

      Only problem is that it makes it hard to stop playing, rather like a packet of bite-size candies.

  9. Jock says:

    Maybe so, but it’s snow good in this context.

    • Jock says:

      Oh dear. This was in response to the first post. Looks like it didn’t turn out as thawed.

  10. Matt says:

    Hats aside did anyone notice the horrible soulless eyes they all had? Anyone who actually took off their tin foil hat had 0_0 fixed eyes. *shiver*

    Otherwise enjoyed this though.

    If like me you’re into things with depth (MMOs, anything by bioware etc) then I recommend this. Not because it has depth, its as shallow as the louse, but because the sheer lack of depth makes for a zero brain cell usage. Its a real nice change of pace thats reminded me I don’t always have to take my games so seriously,

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yeah, i absolutely enjoyed the Just-Shooting-At-Giant-Stuff-OMG aspect of it, but that makes it hard to recommend. It’s incredible in lots of ways, just not really as a shooter.

    • EthZee says:

      Don’t forget the stompy robots. Them’s some fine stompy robots.

      And it does have depth, of a sort – unfortunately it’s that artificial depth that you create by not telling the user how to perform moves in the manual so that you need to look up videos on youtube in order to improve.

      >:|

    • Matt says:

      indeed, it made me think of Kierons recent blog on the new york arcades and all those pew pew classics. Simple fun. I think this may make its way in to our LAN catalogue.

      Oh! my personal gripe; where the hell is the DX10 version!? it wasn’t that long ago I paid a small fortune for a card that could run it and now Im back on dx9 for a game thats supposed to showcase graphics!

    • Optimaximal says:

      I think it’s DX9 & 11 this time around… I know i’ve seen a few people running it on Steam, with their current game showing as LP2DX11 or something.

    • Dominic White says:

      “And it does have depth, of a sort – unfortunately it’s that artificial depth that you create by not telling the user how to perform moves in the manual”

      You mean the VS-specific features? There’s an in-game manual that lists all of those. As for a few of the more obscure things, like how the Support Cannon works, I just found out for myself while playing. Dear god, was it ever fun figuring that one out.

  11. teo says:

    Those hats at the end, that’s someone with no sense of style trying to make something that looks cool. Most of LP2 can be summed up that way, the monster design is the same and the excessive jargon is also the same, but even worse. NO, having nonsensical acronyms for everything does NOT sound cool, T-ENG in facts sounds STUPID.

    • EthZee says:

      You… you insulted the hats!

      Die, infidel!

      *hurls bakery-fresh cheese Boule*

  12. Medina says:

    Despite the luke warm reviews I was sold after watching some coop videos. The game has its problems, but nothing that has stopped me from having a lot of fun.

    I just hope they get a patch out to the steam buyers so we can play with non steam buyers.

    • Dominic White says:

      Despite it working really well with LP1, Microsoft have said ‘no’ to any further cross-platform games. Apparently it’s bad press when PC players beat 360 ones.

    • Medina says:

      Im not talking about cross platform playing with 360 and ps3 players. Right now people who purchased on steam are playing a different version than people who purchased the retail PC version. So steam buyers cannot play with normal retail PC purchases because steam is using an older version.

      Steam was originally updated, but there were some problems and it was asking people to insert the CD so they rolled the update back. Until the steam version is patched multiplayer is a ghost town for steam users.

      I would also like to add that I am enjoying the coop is this game more than in borderlands.

  13. dragon_hunter21 says:

    DEM HATS

    • EthZee says:

      …And pants. Bondage pants. Half-chaps with riding shoes. Quilted coats, trenchcoats. And even some capes.

      Come for the giant monster-shooting, stay for the dressing up.

  14. TonyB says:

    Assuming this is the same as the console toy version, all four of you wiping at once isn’t a failure state. You only fail if your battle gauge (“B-GAUGE” in your images above) reaches 0. Each team member death knocks it down by 500, and the capture points in each level restore some of it.

    Personally I love this, but there’s some utterly ludicrous design decisions in it which I can entirely understand putting people off it (the B-Gauge system above being just one of them). For all its faults, there’s nothing like some of the battles against the G-class akrids in it, and any game where two quite powerful separately-piloted mechs can be combined into two-pilot uber mech, or where a special weapon can call a sun down on your enemies, can’t be all bad.

  15. DestinedCruz says:

    If you find the game ridiculously easy, just knock it up a single notch to Hard. Trust me, the difference between the two difficulties is almost like night and day.

    Example: The first Category-G Akrid you fight (giant arms guy) took me around 30 seconds to kill on my own on Normal. I grabbed a gatling gun, blew both arms off and just went to town on his forehead.
    On Hard difficulty, I cannot do it on my own, and it was difficult enough with two of us (it took quite a few tries).

    And yes, I completely agree with the part where it sucks friends have to have played as much of the game as you.

  16. Wilson says:

    This sounded interesting until you mentioned GFWL. I suppose you still have to use it even for LAN play? Because I just cannot be bothered with it when playing with friends, pretty much for the reasons you mentioned. I wanted to try the Dawn of War II coop campaign over a LAN, and it was a real pain to get set up. Plus it was really unclear as to how you actually started a coop game. If it isn’t the best shooter in the world anyway, it is not worth the hassle. Bloody Games for Windows Live.

    • DestinedCruz says:

      Nope! The LAN play does not require the use of Games For Windows Live in any way. You can still connect to friends over a local network whilst being logged into an Offline account. Makes things a hell of a lot easier at my local LAN center when the switch goes out, let me tell you.

    • Wilson says:

      @DestinedCruz – Hurrah! Then I probably will get this game, because coop is nearly always worth it, and it looks pretty neat. Thanks for the info by the way :)

  17. phenom_x8 says:

    trying the first colonies edition here recently(for cheap US$3 ). Meh, the visual dissapoints me! The Gameplay make me sick! Whay there is a sequel for this console crap! But for 3 bucks, I just wanna try it!

  18. Lucas says:

    The primary design consideration of LP2 hats is for them to stay on when you crouch-dodge-roll, and they always do!

  19. wcaypahwat says:

    Train-Fu.

    Thats all I’m saying.

  20. Olivaw says:

    There’s a lot of really drawn out animations for climbing on things and meleeing things and grappling onto things and ESPECIALLY for getting hit. You can get stunlocked in this game.

    What I’m saying here is that while it is a third-person cover-based shooter, it is still totally a Japanese video game.

    • Dominic White says:

      It’s also not cover-based. There’s very little stuff to hide behind. Instead, the game is about evasion and interception. There’s quite a lot of competitive depth in there. For instance, the dodge-roll gives you a few frames of invulnerability (you can literally headbutt an incoming rocket and take no damage) at the start of the dive, but during the recovery animation, you actually take increased damage. Subtle little details like that all over the place.

      Grenades have a slightly wider blast radius if manually detonated by shooting them in midair, too. There’s a whole ton of fancy maneuvers you can pull off with the grappling hook as well.

      Y’know what? I’ll take that any day of the week over another ‘Put head in crosshair, click, win’ shooter.

  21. WJonathan says:

    Amazing hats = sale.

  22. Phasma Felis says:

    My first thought was “Only the Japanese could have designed those hats without irony in mind. Lucky for them they’ve got heaps of Westerners ready to love them ironically.” :)

  23. K says:

    Nobody mentioned Shadow of the Colossus yet? Shame on you!

  24. SadAndLonely says:

    So, in short:

    Due to console limitations in internal hardware, level design was crippled.

    Due to console limitations in external / controller hardware(as in: aiming and reacting properly and quickly with an analog stick), AI / Enemy design was crippled.

    And, I would assume, due to it being for the Xbox360 and therefore a MS whipping boy, you also get stuck with GFWL instead of something that might actually work(despite all the hate, STEAM does work great for teaming up with friends).

    Man, am I ever glad to own a PC in a time where PC games are made independently of otherworldly limitations and I don’t have to suffer due to some wildly illogical factors that have nothing to do with my own platform..

    • Nallen says:

      Typically the only games I play on my PC are PC only games, for the reasons you’ve given.

      I was thinking about picking this up for the TV extender though.

  25. nickski says:

    could everyone just chill out?

  26. kinkaid says:

    yall need to take a chill pill

  27. Droniac says:

    I think I know what happened to John’s GFWL accounts.

    Microsoft has published a new user agreement that needs to be accepted upon logging into your GFWL account. This results in an obscure error whenever you attempt to login to an old GFWL account. That error also generates a link to what’s supposed to be the new user agreement, but in a move of sheer Microsoftian brilliance the link generated in the error message is broken. So it’s impossible to accept the new user agreement, and use your GFWL account, through the GFWL application or any GFW games.

    The solution: go to Xbox.com -> login -> accept new user agreement -> done.

    Now you can play LP2 co-op.

  28. Matt says:

    Ha! Hope your enjoying that hykoo game(it’s early and I’m using phone so not checking spelling :p) I’m about as creative as a brick so I left it. However it did inspire a reinstall of typing of the dead. Loving my simple pleasure games at the moment :)

  29. LoBear says:

    Haha you should try ‘Typer Shark’ its epic lol,