Lost Planet 2 is neither a game where a Planet is lost looking for its home nor a game in which you are lost on a Planet (well kind of). It is a game where things want you dead, whether it be wee little humans, or giant (and I mean GIANT) space bugs (aka Akrid). Thrown in around all this fighting is your life source, thermal energy (or T-ENG for short). T-ENG is vital for keeping yourself alive in tricky situations and for powering certain weapons and the ever awesome vital suits (but more on them later). The game is broken into standard sections, online and campaign. There is also a handy dandy customization mode, used for pimping out your online character.
The campaign is split up into episodes, which are then further split up into chapters. The story is played from several perspectives, allowing level design and environments to vary from episode to episode. Most episodes contain one, or sometimes more, Category G Akird. These are your giant, humungous, and unbelievably pissed off bosses. Those of you who have played the campaign demo will have an idea of what exactly these bad boys are like. These bosses nearly always require some sort of teamwork, so it’s handy you have 3 counterparts with you then right? Well, if you’re playing offline then sadly not. As it turns out the AI on Lost Planet 2 is diabolical and utterly useless. More often than not, if you are playing with the AI, then you will be left fighting some epic battle by yourself whilst your computerized teammates will be sat in the corner twiddling their thumbs popping their heads out every once in a while, only to get smacked in the face with a giant tentacle or a bloody bullet. Frustrating much? Especially when your battle gauge (a number of points representing how many lives your team has) also depletes whenever one of the useless AI does decide to kick the bucket. Moral of the story? Go online. When you can buddy up with a few mates and really storm the campaign it is a whirlwind ride, full of wonderful battle sequences and epic boss battles. The story itself is strung together nicely and is well told throughout the game in very pretty cinematic sequences indeed.
Multiplayer is your standard compilation of elimination (death match), team elimination and data post grab. There is also the inclusion of faction matches. Each person chooses a faction and games are played against each other for glory. A quirky system that may be a bit flawed in the fact that unbalanced faction numbers leads to fewer games to those in less popular factions. Weapons vary depending on your chosen layout (see customization), with Vital Suits being laid out around each map for player use. One thing I found frustrating about multiplayer is the damage. Almost every time you shoot you feel that you are doing very little damage indeed, whereas when they shoot you, bang and you’re dead. Maybe it’s just me but there ya go. The maps on Lost Planet 2 Multiplayer are wonderful. They come in three different categories, small, medium, and unsurprisingly, large. Every map is unique, and really makes the use of the grappling hook. This element adds superb verticality to every map; requiring players stay on their toes, and use every ledge.
The Game play
In terms of controls, Lost Planet 2 seems a bit fiddly. Every Vital Suit has slightly different controls and becoming a master of LP2 warfare requires a degree of memorization. The left trigger is rather incontinently for grenades, and for the first few games it’s not rare to find yourself lobbing grenades when you thought you we’re going to aim. During campaign you quickly discover that the harmonizer (the thing that replenishes your health) is on the start button. Like the left trigger scenario it’s not surprising that during the first couple of plays you find yourself desperately searching for the heal button, only to find it in possibly the oddest place on the controller. The grapple is fantastic and incredibly useful for scaling structures and the odd Akrid. The only downside would be the range. It’s not short, but it sure as hell isn’t as long as you would like when you’re in a tight spot.
The Vital Suits
What can I say? These things are amazing. The Vital Suits are your mechanical type robotic suits found all throughout campaign and multiplayer. They range in sizes from your small turrets and battle armour, to your hulking masses of metal such as the multi-person VSs and transforming mechs. The sheer amount of Vital Suits is stunning and the ability to change weapons on nearly every Vital Suit really adds a spot of uniqueness to nearly every suit. They are very fun to pilot, and bursting on to a battle scene, firing down on unsuspecting enemies is a feeling not many games can reproduce. These very much seem at the heart of the game and it’s not surprising to find yourself saying ‘stuff all the conventional weapons, let’s get in this blooming huge gun and shoot down this giant spider thing’.
The character customization is as in depth as you like. You can change your choice of weapons, your look, your player emotes (funny little animations), your ‘Nom de Guerre’ (which is essentially your in game nickname) and your abilities. You acquire said items by levelling up your characters through campaign or through playing online battles. The campaign also gives you credits which are acquired through question mark boxes after every big boss or occasionally a standard enemy. These credits can be spent in the customization slot machine, which in turn gives you an item. This system is completely random, and often spews out name after name after name until you eventually stumble upon a new weapon or ability. This may seem slightly erratic, however it does mean the chances of finding someone exactly the same as you online is incredibly slim indeed.
Lost Planet 2 is awesome, with frustrations. It’s a shame to say the multiplayer disappoints in some aspects, but luckily makes up with it in pretty amazing level design and diversity. The Category G Akird and Vital Suits are almost a reason to by the game itself. Both are fantastic inclusions that add an unbelievable amount of fun factor to the game. The customization is also an awesome inclusion, once a fair amount has been unlocked that is. You can find yourself spending quite a while adjusting load out and tweaking you looks to suit your standards. For what it detracts in shoddy AI and average multiplayer it makes up ten folds in many other aspects. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a worthy inclusion to my collection.