Lost Planet: Extreme Condition was met with quite a bit of praise for its setting, visuals, and gameplay when it first released in 2007. A different breed of third-person shooter, Lost Planet gave players the chance to explore a brand new world filled with dangerous (and gigantic) creatures. Though its controls were hit or miss, most agreed that the game was worth looking into be it for single player or online play. Which begs to ask the question, how much has changed from the first Lost Planet to the more recent Lost Planet 2?
What can be taken from Lost Planet 2 really depends on what gameplay mode players partake in. The game offers multiplayer versus, campaign offline, and is default set to be an online campaign. Campaign mode puts players in control of a Snow Pirate, whose working hard to gain control over E.D.N III. In addition to looking like they belong in a tundra, Snow Pirates boast a reasonably well ranged grappling hook and the harmonizer, which allows players to regenerate their health using thermal energy collected from killing Akrid. Though the introduction sequence of the game takes place in the arctic that made the first game so recognizable, Lost Planet 2 very quickly changes the scenery (for the better) to a much more lush jungle atmosphere.
This is where the overall experience of the game changes dramatically, depending on if players have opted to play online with friends (or strangers) or if they've decided to take the solo route and play campaign alone. Online, players will have to work together to fight against increasingly difficult odds, use teamwork to combat giant monsters, pilot large robots and take advantage of additional seats for extra cannons, and experience completely different game paths (depending on if they are player 1-2 or 3-4). Offline players get to watch their AI teammates stand in the open and get shot, follow the main character around blindly without firing their weapon, die to the various giant Akrid that are fought throughout the campaign, and generally wish they had gone online instead.
The problem with Lost Planet 2 is that it was definitely made, and balanced, for online gameplay at its core. The game's scoring, rating system and experience/level system are dependent on how well an individual player does, but there are plenty of other signs that prove Lost Planet 2's loyalty lies online. Being able to give teammates thermal energy if they're running low for example, or having to pilot a VS suit that has more than one seat. Boss fights that require players to taunt a boss in a particular direction to expose a weak point are exciting and fun with even only one other player contributing to the fight. The same fights run alone are exasperating, and tend to take two to four times as long, since the AI doesn't really contribute to the fight aside from ammunition when they die).
Many clever additions to the game are also completely wasted in single player mode, such as quick-time events that happen at the end of some levels. Failure means watching a player's pirate die, but since the game naturally divides Snow Pirates into groups of two a teammate dying is shown hilariously (and embarrassingly) to all teammates. Running the game solo means suffering any of these events alone, with nothing more than the game's weak storyline as a reward. This also means that running in multiplayer offers a lot of replay, since seeing the different sides of the game can be a lot of fun. Earning points in the main campaign also allows for some character customization in the form of levels (which unlock bonuses) and points (which can be given to a roulette for random items/abilities).
Control wise Lost Planet 2 hasn't really learned from its past mistakes, as some gameplay mechanics border on the absolutely useless. Running, for example, is extremely difficult to control, for seemingly no particular reason. The grappling hook, the game's most signature feature, is another feature that has some very strange quirks. Grappling down a ledge, to an object, or onto walls is extremely easy to do and very smoothly handled. Jumping from a grappled wall, or over and object however can be an issue as the game never clearly explains what can or cannot be scaled. Either it can be done, or the player is left to hover in space for a few seconds before being thrown to the ground.
Graphically the game looks great, and the switch from a hostile wasteland to a lush jungle is a welcome change. The environment looks just as unforgiving and dangerous as the wildlife, and still maintains the spirit of the first game. The game's sound is decent, isn't ever grating on the ears, but can be a bit repetitive if the larger boss fights take a bit too long (aka single player mode). Anyone playing online won't even notice the music over voice chat though, so it's not too big a deal.
In the end Lost Planet 2 presents an interesting love/hate relationship. Anyone who has a few friends, or enjoys playing online shouldn't miss out on the experience that Lost Planet 2 has to offer. It is genuinely some of the most fun out there for a group of 3-4 players, and its boss battles are beyond memorable. Unfortunately playing through single player not only means missing out on bonus multiplayer content, but having every single one of the game's design flaws appear in force. Either way, Lost Planet 2 is most certainly memorable. If that memory is a good one is sadly dependent on the online play and how much it glosses over the game's obvious flaws.