Published on May 9th, 2010 | by prime0
Lost Planet 2 – Review
Summary: Playing with others, it’s near-revelatory. Co-op enhances everything
There’s a spectacular lack of pretence about Lost Planet 2. It’s a game that knows exactly what it is, exactly what it’s setting out to achieve and, for the most part, exactly how to do it. It’s refreshing, to be honest, as not every game out there can be BioShock, and not every game should try to be.
So be thankful that Lost Planet 2 doesn’t want anything to do with that style of videogame. It’s a bug hunt, pure and simple, a funnel of enemies, dudes and carnage that’s designed to test your accuracy and dexterity, and assault your eyeballs until they cannot physically take any more.
Scrapping the bizarre story of Wayne and his space pirate buddies was the first step in converting Lost Planet into a non-nonsense blast. Building the game around four-player co-operative play is the second step, and probably the most crucial one.
Inafune-san and his highly talented teams have clearly been playing a lot of Left 4 Dead, and Valve’s influence can be left in every aspect of Lost Planet 2’s quadraphonic warfare. For starters, it’s not a game you play on your own, even when there are no humans about to join in the fun, you’re always joined by your posse as you traverse the Lost Planet killing Akrid and fighting pirates.
As you’re probably aware by now, the planet that cannot be found is not quite as cold as it used to be. After a teaser of an opening mission where you’re dropped back into the freezing tundra, you’re up in a chopper flying towards lush, verdant jungle. The story makes some excuse for this sudden change of climate, but ultimately it’s flagrantly obvious that nobody cares. It’s all about the action.
Within minutes, screen-filling Akrid start popping up everywhere and the game doesn’t let up until it finishes, big ones, small ones, bigger ones… there’s an Akrid for every occasion. Taking them down requires teamwork, and that’s where Lost Planet 2 simultaneously thrives and suffers.
Lost Planet 2 is not a game you play on your own, even when there are no other humans about to join in the fun
Played with others, it’s near-revelatory. Co-op enhances everything, it’s a well-established fact, but even so, Lost Planet 2’s enforced team dynamics make you feel like you’re in a battle for survival. You can save your teammates.
Strip that human element out, though, and the cracks being to show. The teammate AI isn’t good enough to mimic the rush of playing with real people, and more often than not you’ll be spending time yelling at pixels when you should be shooting bugs.
Playing alone also shows up all of Lost Planet 2’s deficiencies as a shooter. There’s almost no subtlety or skill involved here beyond pointing and shooting. Unfortunately, certain enemies can attack you and demolish you without any opportunity to dodge or defend. In a co-op game, your teammate can easily distract them for you, but alone, though, you’re relying on AI that doesn’t seem to be aware that you’re even in trouble.
So, like Left 4 Dead then, playing alone is a no-no. The human element masks the flaws very well, and it means you can spend your time and effort concentrating on what makes Lost Planet 2 stand out from the pack – taking down those giant Akrid. Truly, they’re some of the most impressive sights in any game ever. Screen-filling isn’t even the word. They’re bigger than that. They’re cinema-sized.
There’s often specific ways to take down the giant Akrid as a team, too. In one case, a party member can get inside an enemy while the others take out its limbs; in other cases, just good communication and use of the returning VS suits will be enough. Lost Planet 2 may not have the unpredictability of the Left 4 Dead AI Director, but there’s still scope for experimentation and repeat playthroughs.
Not that longevity is a huge issue in the game though, thanks to a sizeable and well-managed multiplayer mode that captures the spark of the original’s and builds upon it massively. Lost Planet’s online skirmishes had a bit of a cult following once people got their heads around the grappling hook, and LP2 should expand on this. Of course, time with the full and final release is the only true way to judge an online game, but the improved matchmaking and lobby systems point to a product that’s undergone a deep clean and a thorough polish.
Which, in fact, is something Lost Planet 2 is never lacking. It’s a gorgeously well-made piece of work, one that makes up for its lack of depth with relentless bravado and fist-pumping camaraderie. Sometimes, that’s all you need.