Lost Planet: Extreme Condition was one of the first games released by a Japanese company in the late 2000′s that seemed to attempt solely at connect with western audiences. That could be wrong, but there have been plenty of titles later on released by Japanese companies since then, many of which are well-received games in their own right. The Lost Planet franchise is now on its third installment, and it’s no longer made internally by Capcom. The result of that collaboration is rather underwhelming, to say the least.
Lost Planet 3 is a prequel to the first two games, which is why the planet of E.D.N. III is still covered in ice at this point. You play as Jim Peyton, a 32-year-old colonist who goes on to work in the mines for NEVEC while his family waits for him on Earth. This backstory shares similarities with the protagonist of the first Red Faction game Parker, who was also a regular dude who went to Mars to work in the mines to get away from it all, only to find hell underground.
The writing of the story is actually pretty good here, as the characters are portrayed as regular people thrust into an extraordinary circumstance that reveals their true personalities and tests their will to survive. As the crisis situation they unwillingly got into becomes more tense, they start to become more hostile towards each other, and the tension comes from the need to work together in order to survive while having to endure each other’s growing contempt. This is also reflected by the voice acting of the cast, which does a lot to get the audience engaged with the narrative.
Singleplayer is a 12 to 15 hour affair that fleshes out the story and pits you against the Akrid and everything else. Combat is varied and there are side missions to be had in the singleplayer, which will occupy you. If you’ve played other shooters though, you’ll find it rather generic and dry. Even the mech combat, which should be a respite from on-ground combat, is pretty dry and passive. Perhaps the most challenging gameplay mode here is Akrid Survival, which is exactly what it sounds like. This is good fun in multiplayer and forces you to work with your teammates in order to last as long as you possibly can.
However, this game does have quite a few pitfalls, most of it boiling down to the level design and the shooting gameplay. Both of these are supposed to be the heart and backbone of the series, and it somehow falters and loses what the first two games had built upon. With the shooting mechanic, the execution has been made harder due to the slow and choppy controls. Because of that, players have to contend with difficulties in aiming, so it’s much harder to stay alive. As for the movement, it has somehow become more limited that doesn’t only come from the controls, but also from the mechanics themselves.
Challenge in gameplay is only good if it comes from the game design itself and not from limitations in the controls and the core mechanics that can make it feel cheap and unfair. Unfortunately, that’s the case with LP3, and that’s sad since it was expected to be an improvement over Lost Planet 2, which had stumbled a bit after the success of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition. it was perhaps due to its development being handled by a third-party studio and not Capcom, so it may lost touch of what the first two games had established because of it. Spark Unlimited has shown their best effort in this game so far, and they did well in terms of production value, but they missed in a few other areas.
The other game series that Capcom had handed the reins over to a western developer is Devil May Cry, which resulted in DmC. While the changes to the characters were controversial, the game itself turned out to be pretty good, and Ninja Theory was able to justify most of their creative decisions. It’s as if Capcom has been finding ways to make publishing games targeted to western audiences work as a business model. Seems like it’s hit-or-miss though at this point, and some people are even giving the company a proverbial middle finger salute.
If you’re into some action, then Lost Planet 3 may give you some entertainment, although it won’t do much to amaze you. Rent this game or get it through a sale down the line since it’s not that bad, but not that good either. If you’re a fan of the Lost Planet series, you may feel a bit bad about how this turned out.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 6.5/10