Hello all! Last week’s game was Spider-Man, a classic that only took me like a decade to enjoy. I’m glad I revisited it.
This week brings me to one of my first Xbox 360 titles, seeing as how I got the console a little bit later than most.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is a 360 (later PC and PS3) title developed and published by Capcom, releasing in 2007. You play as Wayne, on a planet known as E.D.N. III, which is much like Earth during an ice age. Wayne and his father are fighting a huge, bug-like alien called Green Eyes which ends with Wayne being frozen in ice for 30 years, waking up with no memory save for Green Eyes’ name. He joins up with Luka and Rick, who are snow pirates, and fights against a typical evil corporation called NEVEC, all while seeking to get revenge on Green Eyes. Twists and general convolution follow; there’s more plot and exposition than there needs to be, honestly.
Most of your time in Lost Planet is spent in the snow, fighting troops, alien-bugs, and mechs. A more-or-less standard third-person shooter, Lost Planet adds a couple of wrinkles in the form of a grappling hook, which launches you forward and allows you to (sort of) climb structures, and T-Energy. T-Energy (different from the T-Energy in Sacred 2) keeps you warm in the icy climate of E.D.N. III, and it continuously drains, requiring you to kill enemies and activate data posts (essentially checkpoints) to replenish it. It’s a way to keep you pushing forward, although it gets aggravating at times—for example, T-Energy continues to drain while you’re wandering around a lava cave, which should be plenty warm. Alas. The linear gameplay is broken up by mech sections, which are always fun in any game, really. They’re self-explanatory; you hop in an oversized robot and destroy everything for a few minutes.
Boss fights, I should mention, are the very zenith of the “shoot the glowy bits” trope. But they’re fun enough, and the game is of a length that feels meaty without overstaying its welcome. You ever play a game that just felt like the absolute perfect length for what it was? That’s Lost Planet, to its credit; you more or less finish it just before you get tired of it.
I liked Lost Planet when I first picked it up (for pretty cheap). Or rather, what might be more accurate to say is, I liked it enough. My Xbox 360 was a birthday gift (June 23, 2007) and I had Condemned and Gears of War the same day. If memory serves, I got Lost Planet maybe a couple of months later, though I played the hell out of the demo. So I was pretty starved for something that would push my new next-gen system, and Lost Planet filled that desire. It looked amazing, and it holds up pretty ok today, save for some stiff faces. And it played well enough to keep me interested in the plot.
But some games age pretty well, and some don’t. Lost Planet is somewhere in between; some aspects, like the graphics, hold up despite being dated. The basic gameplay is ordinary enough to still be entertaining (it’s point-and-shoot). But then you get to the grappling hook, which is near-useless, and the T-Energy, which is a pain. You also can’t look completely up or down in the game, which is weird as hell and hampers your ability to shoot what you need to shoot. There’s also the bizarre phenomenon everyone who played Lost Planet is familiar with; I call it “over-animation.”
See, when Wayne grapples to a point and jumps up, or when he jumps normally, or gets knocked down, or gets up...or, does anything, really...it takes him forever to do it. I feel like Capcom really, really wanted to push the “next-gen” aspect of the game, and went over the top in making it look totally, hilariously realistic. But the game and, by extension, your enjoyment, suffers as a result, as you spend a more-than-noticeable amount of time watching Wayne do things, rather than playing. Everything you do takes just a bit too long, and it gets frustrating as the game goes on. I get that running through snow is tough, but Wayne moves with the same sluggishness no matter how deep the snow is—even if there isn’t any.
I still generally like Lost Planet, despite the general awkwardness of playing it nowadays (being able to do quick quarter-turns and 180s is cool). It feels like you’re running, shooting, and rolling through mud or quicksand, but destroying glowing bugs is still fun enough to warrant another look at the game, even if just for a day. This series didn’t really get anywhere; there’s a Lost Planet 2 and 3 that are middling at best. But the first is the best one, easily. And it’s still kind of cool. But, as I said, some games age well, and some games age badly. But some just age. Lost Planet is one of those, holding up in some aspects but not others. I feel like it’s a tough sell now, but those who originally liked it will probably still find it fun.
Thanks for reading my stuff! Yell at me on Twitter about why I’m wrong, and/or suggest other games I should cover! Hit the comments! And, I’ve got a new site coming soon, so stay tuned.
Next week brings us to a Star Wars title that’s a big part of my childhood/teenage years. Although lacking in plot, this game is of a genre we don’t see much of anymore. Break out your old Microsoft Sidewinder PC joysticks for this one, folks.