Lost Planet – Extreme Conditions was a great game, if a little flawed. It managed to sell the 360 in Japan and made moths as scary in games as I find them in real life. Little niggles stopped the game achieving true greatness, but when a sequel was announced things looked very hopeful. New locations, jungle combat, massive Akrid battles, four player co-op gameplay etc… The thing is, while making all of the awesome bits awesome is seems that have neglected to remember the golden rule of games:
Make it all work together.
Lost Planet 2 has left me with a taste in my mouth that cannot be shifted with mouthwash or bleach – hell I even tried Cilit Bang, but the dirt was not gone. DAMN YOU BARRY SCOTT *
Before we start, if you don’t like words feel free to skip to the end where there are visual aids to ensure you don’t miss the point of this feature. Obviously if you can be bothered to read my scrawlings they act as a reward for the patient folk… your choice.
See the thing is with all the promo material we were treated to in-game footage. All actual gameplay footage. Hell we were even given two demos to play through. With all of this first hand experience surely we could work out how good the game should or should not be? Well we would have if the releases were not cut down in such a clever way. See what the game does is take an online multiplayer mode – lets for the sake of argument call it the online scenario mode. Scenario. Remember that word, as it is key to the crumbling foundations at the heart of Lost Planet 2.
When we were treated to gameplay in the demos we were limited to an area, a ‘scenario’ but had we been given more stages we might have gotten a feel for what is essentially the worst piece of game design choice since Bomberman Act Zero. (Which may sound like I am being somewhat churlish, but I really mean it.) The game is divided up into extrememely short sections that end at a door/boss fight/red line floating in mid-air which reaching instantly means that the level is over. This then takes you to a stats screen, as the players involved are ranked – so far so Devil May Cry – but what it does is drag you kicking and screaming out of the admittedly lavishly designed world of E.D.N. III. At no point in a storyline beased action game do you really want a dialogue/cut-scene section bissected by a stats screen – especially one that really offers nothing in the way of actual tangible benefits, unless you complete a whole chapter in which you can see your level raise and open the ? boxes you may have acquired.
If I were to be playing this online, with four real people maybe this would be useful given the fact that you cannot actually pause the game. At all! Instead the ‘pause’ button offers in-game access to the harmonizer’s health regenerative ability. Now fine most online multiplayer experiences don’t have pause as an option, but in offline gameplay this is a joke. Need a piss? Tough. Need to answer the door before the gas men use their warrant to break in and disconnect your supply? Sorry mate. Need to put out a fire that has started in the hallway, threatening to engulf the whole apartment block and kill numerous innocent old people and children? Well you should probably get onto that one with or without a pause button.
What the game boils down to is this:
Non-descript title screen.
(That’s right, I don’t want to start from the beginning of a game I have already started)
(That’s what I said)
(I don’t fucking want to!)
Haven’t you got friends?
(YES! I JUST DON’T WANT TO PLAY AN ONLINE GAME!)
The world is waiting!
(Just start please)
You have to ‘host a game’ even if you want to play offline.
(Oh for fuck’s sake)
Let online players join?
(YES FUCKING REALLY! IT’S 2 IN THE AFTERNOON, EVERYONE I WOULD GAME WITH IS ASLEEP/AT WORK)
Friends to invite?
Hold a seat in case?
Want some really shoddy AI that will do nothing toward a mission but steal kills when you don’t need them too?
(I’d rather have good AI)
Well tough because that’s all we have…
(Can I play alone?)
Start from beginning?
(I’VE ALREADY PLAYED SOME!)
You’ve already played some?
(YES! CAN’T YOU READ THE FUCKING MEMORY AND FIGURE IT OUT?!)
Remember where you got to?
Ah, well…. you can’t always start where you saved and left the game…
I kinda suck…
(Fine! Just start the game)
Here, have some obscure gibberish masquerading as a plot…
(That makes no sense at all… and it seems a lot like Avatar…)
Yeah it is a bit like Avatar now that you mention it…
Right… level’s starting.
(I’ve been ready for a while)
(Bang, bang bang, hit worng buttons, claim point, bang, red line…)
You did well…
(I didn’t do much)
Seriously, you killed all five enemies on that ‘level’!
Well done you.
(Don’t patronise me)
Have an S rank.
I know… S ranks still make no sense…
Oooh, look a new level…
(Bang, bang bang, grappling hook fail, fall into water… die…)
You committed suicide!
(Well no I didn’t..)
You did… see that’s you there in the water… and look there’s the AI bumbling into the water to follow you… oh they died too…
(No surprise there)
(Respawn? You mean load last checkpoint?)
No… respawn, you are online.
(No I’m not)
Well you should be, loser.
Respawning… please wait…
(WAIT?! Why so the computer controlled enemy doesn’t suffer from host advantage?)
Back in game… now go do all the objectives yourself.
(Looks promising, a big open area ripe for a boss fi….)
You didn’t do as well this time… C rank!
Here, have a huge monster to fight…
(Bang, die, bang bang die bang die…)
Etc etc etc…
The game effectively constantly reminds you of what you *could be experiencing* while ensuring you have as little fun as possible.
Some moments are great, jaw-dropping, but essentially it doesn’t make a spot of difference when the enthusiasm had for the game is as dead as something very dead indeed… like a dinosaur or something…
The AI I mentioned is stunningly inept. Most missions involving base attacks/boss battles rely on the fact that the game was designed for four unique players working as a team, but someone accidentally forgot to code the AI players accordingly and 99% of the time they will happily follow you instead of flanking the enemy, or attacking vital points. Sometimes one will work out what the gin in their hands does, but only after walking around with it for a while. (At one point I was facing off against a rather huge limbed boss and really needed the VS weapons but two of my ‘team’ had collected them and were standing still being hit repeatedly. They contributed nothing whatsoever to the mission. I dare say the game would be easier as a lone wolf affair, at the very least it would be infinitely less frustrating – a later mission involving a train, a gun, some ammo and a cooling system nearly drove me to the point of despair. I was forced to put the Kick-Ass soundtrack on the iPod dock, and only when The Prodigy had dragged me out of the depths of misery that Lost Planet 2 had forced me down into.
In three pictures Lost Planet 2 is comparable to a date with a girl you met on Bebo…
Her profile picture is this:
You meet she looks like this:
You go through with it, but you can’t quite enjoy yourself, instead feeling like you are dating this:
I think we can all agree that this is not a good place to be. so for the love of god please avoid Lost Planet 2, unless you enjoy this:
If you want a consitently frustrating experience with some of the worst AI encountered since I met with the robot Robin Williams from Bicentennial Man. Repetative gameplay revolving around pointless gun battles and data post activation ensure that Lost Planet 2 never warms up, ironically leaving me colder than the original’s mostly ice-covered landscape.
Interestingly – possibly – Barry Scott is a fictional character played by jobbing actor Neil Burgess.
More interestingly – again perhaps – is that Cillit Bang has been used to remove nuclear stains from a defunct Power Plant in Scotland. Now that’s would make a great ad campaign: “People of Chernobyl… BANG the dirt is gone!” or even better “Terrorist Attack? BANG the dirt is gone!”