Capcom has taken a valiant effort in handing over some of its more storied franchises to the hands of Western development teams.
2013′s DmC: Devil May Cry proved that this experiment could prove useful if the right dev team was selected. The house that Street Fighter built chose another one of their solid gaming IP’s for a shot at their Western game dev partnership – Lost Planet.
The third official entry in this climate/alien planet focused third-person shooter comes from the guys at Spark Unlimited. Does this prequel live up to the solid entries that spawned from the series’ Japanese dev teams? Let’s find out.
Lost Planet 3 sets itself before the events of the first game, which makes it approachable for players who haven’t invested in the series previously. You play as the blue collar, every-man known as Jim Peyton. Jim’s existence on the frigid, Akrid infested planet of E.D.N. III focuses on him taking on job contracts that test his skills as a Utility Rig pilot. You’ll start to become emotionally attached to Jim and his plight, working under dangerous conditions just so he can provide for his significant other and their child back on Earth. Peering into the personality of Jim and his girl is quite evident thanks to the video messages that pop up from time to time.
Jim’s co-workers and superiors fit their roles pretty well. There’s plenty of international flavor all around your work base. Each of the characters you interact with aren’t overly interesting or shocking in their portrayal, but they have their interesting moments from time to time. Some of the quick witted lines they’ll throw your way prove some of them have a personality.
The storytelling aspects of this entry are a lot more cohesive and invested that the last two games in the series. It’s easy to figure out the simple plot – a soon-to-be-deceased old worker tells his younger family member the story of an evil corporation’s tactics that are harmful to nature itself. The visuals prove to be solid enough. The snow and ice covered locales that you’ll frequent look fine, but they won’t amaze you in any way, shape or form.
The majority of your time spent on E.D.N III involves shooting down Akrid’s (in their orange or red weak points, of course), walking around the massive interior base, taking on missions from your bosses, like handling simple tasks with your Utility Rig and conversing with NPC’s. The third-person gunplay comes along as you make your way around the many mini-locations on the icy planet. Akrid’s and other humans invade your space at several instances, so Peyton has to run ‘n gun/duck for cover to survive.The shooting mechanics here are nothing special, though. You’ll have access to your usual array of pistols, shotguns and machine guns that can be upgraded from time to time. The firefights against pissed off aliens prove to be unremarkable. Plus, Jim’s slow running speed and clumsy dodge roll don’t lend themselves well to more harrowing situations.
Speaking of slow, controlling Jim’s Utility Rig proves to be painfully boring. Hopping into the rig may sound cool, but its execution kills that cool factor pretty fast. You’ll use your mech to fix all types of pipes and turn valves around E.D.N. III, as well as fend off bigger Akrid adversaries. The mech’s combat options involves using its arms to punch, grab or drill, but the lack of any gun support is disappointing (there’s an explanation for that in the story, but it still sucks).
The main campaign’s plot proves to be its strongest asset, but the ho-hum gameplay just isn’t as enjoyable. Multiplayer on the other hand provides that familiar, fun gameplay that fans will instantly recognize. Four separate modes exist, which pits NEVEC members against Snow Pirates. Team Deathmatch is what you’d expect, Scenario Mode hands both teams random tasks to complete, Akrid Survival employs Horde Mode-ish gamplay and base capturing/defending and Extraction Mode hands the victory to the team that earns the most thermal energy.
Each mode provides some infinitely more fun gameplay scenarios, thanks to the breakneck pace and wild action that’s present. Strengthening your avatar with the Progressions Sphere’s upgrades can prove to be addictive if you play long enough. The multiplayer may grab your attention more if you’re looking for the finer points of this shooter.
Lost Planet 3′s positive efforts come from its strong storyline and fun multiplayer skirmishes. But the game’s average quality can’t be overlooked. It may perform at a solid, respectable level. But its unremarkable gameplay and third person shooting mechanics keep it from being something truly memorable.
Capcom needs to hand this series back to the capable (and cold?) hands of a Japanese developer…
Developer: Spark Unlimited
Find it at Amazon