Lost Planet 2 Campaign Hands On - The First 3 Episodes
Written Saturday, April 10, 2010 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Once upon a time, E.D.N. III was a planet of pure virginal white snow until some colonising humans came along and terraformed it, sparking a war with the native creatures, the Akrid. Now, much of that snow and ice has melted, revealing lush jungle canopies where mercenaries have entrenched themselves in heavily guarded facilities dotted throughout the leafy fronds of fern and tree-lined valleys.
In Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, you were very much alone in the boring shoes of bland protagonist Wayne Holden – a Snow Pirate whose father was offed by the Green-Eye Akrid – but for Lost Planet 2, Capcom has built the entire game around co-op. Cast as part of a four-strong team of pirates (none of them say “arrr”, mind you), you can play single-player offline, split-screen or jump online and play through the campaign with three mates or three randoms, but you now play as Mr. Generic Clone soldier rather than a specific character.
Jumping straight into the campaign prologue, you're dropped into familiar territory, trudging through E.D.N. III's crunchy snow, fighting pulsating pods that spit spindly tripod cannon fodder, before taking on the bigger monsters hibernating beneath the ice. Playing offline with the AI, the game does a pretty good job of making you feel like you're playing online, with player names floating above the heads of your teammates who provide fairly robust support in a gunfight. That being said, they don't appear to help with specific objectives like activating Control Posts and so on (at least they didn't in our preview code), although they are quick to deploy any Data Posts in the vicinity, which create handy respawn points.
Comprised of individual bitesize missions around 5-10 minutes long, which themselves make up roughly half an hour long chapters, Lost Planet 2's objectives range from standard Data Post capture to large Akrid takedowns and then humongous, massive Akrid boss encounters that are heavily drawn-out battles of attrition. But Lost Planet knows how to do bosses, and the several in the first episode alone require successful teamwork and co-ordination to ensure you don't deplete your T-Energy (T-ENG) reserves and die a failure.
Thankfully T-ENG doesn't run down nearly as fast as it did in Extreme Condition, and if it does, your squad can pelt some of theirs at you to replenish your supply, something your AI buddies are very good at doing when things get hairy. You can return the favour by holding Y and tapping the left trigger, although the muddled controls had us chucking grenades by accident when attempting this.
T-ENG now has a variety of uses, including fuelling your health-regenerating Harmonizer – bizarrely initiated by holding START – as well as your roadie run sprint. It's still accumulated by gathering incandescent orangey Jaffa Cake centres, which spill from enemies and exploding barrels or storage tanks, but it's now less a persistent concern than it was in the first Lost Planet. LP2 shifts its focus closer to out-and-out action, making huge monsters and blasting huge monsters the central conceit, pushing the T-ENG conservation right into the background.
One episode alone is absolutely crammed with wall-to-wall set pieces, meaning that it's likely you'll only have the stamina to tackle one at a time before needing a break. The visuals are normally rather busy too, with vision-blurring explosions or a point of interest like a speeding train passing through an area in a screen-rattling motion blur that'll scorch your retinas. Brace yourself for some horribly bloodshot eyes. In just the first episode, we had to destroy a pair of towering drills by hacking several guarded Control Posts (like Data Posts), which then power-up energy rods that have to be pushed into the ground (done by wildly tapping B, again like Data and Control Posts) and protect them from tampering pirates intent on stopping you. This section plays out like a truncated game of Horde or Firefight, as you have to allow the drills to run at full power for 90 seconds to overload them and bring them crashing to the ground.
Lost Planet 2's missions vary between attacks on enemy facilities and encounters with different classes of Akrid. It's the G-Category Akrid that provide the greatest challenge though, towering intimidatingly above you and your team, able to regenerate limbs should you shoot them off. Glowing weak points still highlight where you need to aim, although you can still chip away at an Akrid's strong shell with normal gunfire, but it'll just take a lot longer.
During the first three episodes of the massive campaign, we encounter several so called, G-Cat Akrid, the strangest of which crops up part way through the third episode during a mission to secure an enormous cannon (the same we have to use later to blow a gaping-mouthed Akrid to kingdom-come) mounted to the back of a hulking freight train. The stupid Akrid straddles the cannon, causing your enemies – the Carpetbaggers – to fire the cannon, blasting its head and left talon clean off. So, it must be dead, right? Wrong.
This is an unrecorded G-Cat Akrid from outer space (seriously), that can regenerate appendages at an alarming rate. It's back up on its legs in seconds, re-growing its head and arm as thrashing orange tendrils sprout from its neck stump and right claw. Thankfully there's a range of VS walkers to choose from, including one able to accommodate three of you, and with one as a pilot, one on a grenade launcher and one of you on a Gatling gun, you'd think it'd be simple to make mincemeat out of any Akrid, but no, it still takes a long, long time.
Of course, Lost Planet 2's objectives offer multiple challenges beyond slaying mega beasties, and as subsequent chapters show, there's room for stealthy infiltration missions, avoiding searchlights and looking out for snipers as well as marauding VS pilots. Weapons and projectile items are never in short supply, so you're always well-equipped to take on whatever the game throws at you. There certainly appears to be a structure at work in each of the game's episodes too, with the first few missions covering infiltration of an area, which then leads to a zone that needs protecting for a set amount of time before the level opens out into more epic monster poaching.
And it's that last bit that is what Lost Planet 2 is going to be all about – filling an Akrid's hide full of bullets before it finally gives in and leaves a sizeable crater in the ground. The stuff around the main creature feature however is nice and solid, bolstered greatly by the well-designed co-op aspect. This is what will serve as the crux of LP2: bringing the fresh co-op served with hot monster mash for the campaign component, and if you've three friends with a penchant for shooting towering toothsome monsters (let's face it, who hasn't?), Lost Planet 2 might be right up your street.
Lost Planet 2 is out on 11th May in North America and Europe.