Lost Planet started off as a rather bright light for Capcom. It arrived as new IP alongside Dead Rising to usher in the new console generation and was met with a positive reaction. Not only did it offer some rather interesting vistas and bosses due to its focus on the cold, but it also featured some pretty solid gameplay mechanics too. The sequel was eagerly anticipated, but it was missing the charm of the original and failed to achieve the expected standards. So much was the decline, that that there was some genuine surprise when Capcom unveiled Lost Planet 3, but also that it was being developed by Spark Unlimited. It led to further fears about declines in quality and those fears turned out to be justified.
Despite being the third iteration, Lost Planet 3 actually takes place before the original game. This means we're back into the ice-age environment as humanity is just starting to colonise E.D.N. III.
The games off with quite a slow tempo. This helps you to be introduced Jim Peyton, the game's protagonist. He's a pretty genuine soul who's very committed to his wife and has just become a father.
As you play though the game, the story manages to survive as one of the game's stronger elements. Jim quickly starts to question who his ties are to and why NEVEC (the company he works for) are actually on E.D.N. III. Fans of Lost Planet 3 might find this focus on the story a little bit surprising, but it's a welcome change compared to the two previous instalments.
Lost Planet 3's gameplay is quite similar to the previous games, but also quite different at the same time. Your main enemy is still the Akrid and they are still beaten by primarily shooting at their weak points. However, Lost Planet 3 tones down the frequency of huge monsters and large environments to make everything seem a bit less daunting.
For some, this change will be a significant let down. Part of Lost Planet's charm was these huge battles and how much they differed from each other. This change does at least make things a bit more manageable, but it comes at a cost "“ repetition. Almost every enemy can be beaten by utilising the same tactic and it means the challenge doesn't exist that much any more. It means that Lost Planet's main USP has evaporated and instead, it's reverted into a third-person shooter where you can down a lot of enemies with a few shots and some dodge rolls.
Other elements have also been toned down. The grappling hook is back, but now you can only use it in specific locations. What you picked up for health and warmth has also had its purpose changed "“ now it's just a currency that you use to buy new weapons and upgrades. VS mechs have also been removed and replaced by Rigs. These cause you to adopt a more defensive approach as they're meant to be a downgraded version, lacking any long-range attacks. There are some good moments to be had, but it still feels a bit tame in comparison. And that's something the game suffers from in general "“ everything just feels tame in comparison to what has come before, not exactly what you expect from game that's the third instalment into a series, and near the end of a console generation.
This continues with the game's presentation. While the graphics are by no means poor, they are average at best. There are numerous times where you'll have to bear witness to rather suspect animations and cutscenes that should really be a higher resolution than they actually are. At least the massive spray of orange goo that comes out of enemies is still there "“ that visual treat will never get old.
When it comes to the game's replay value, it's a bit of a mixed bag. The single player campaign adopts an "open structure" meaning it's not a singular path through the game. You can choose to go back and replay missions if you want and there are audio logs to collect if you want to learn more about NEVEC. There's also online multiplayer, but it differs quite a lot from what has come before. Many of the previous modes, such as Fugitive are gone and are replaced with more traditional modes. There's also a survival mode that pits you against the Akrid while also fighting against other players. It's difficult to understand why previous successful multiplayer options were cut, but at least this helps to make up for it.
Lost Planet 3 continues the downward spiral for the franchise. Spark Unlimited tried to make the game a bit more accessible, but as a result the game has lost most of what made it stand out in the first place. There are some redeeming factors, such as the story and the survival multiplayer mode, but it's another step back for a franchise that after this showing, may not rear its head again for a while.
|There's a strong focus on story.|
|The new survival mode.|
|That lovely orange goo.|
|Quality seems to suffer compared to previous titles.|
|Many of the changes make the game lose its identity.|
|Becomes far too repetitive.|