Lost Planet 2 Review

E.D.N. III is a hostile planet with a wild climate, inhabited by huge toothsome monsters that hold the key to the sole energy source. Mankind for some reason, has decided to terraform and colonise this godforsaken rock, disturbing the local fauna in the process. Smart move!

The VS mechs are tragically underused.

Would you believe it's been more than three years since Lost Planet: Extreme Condition released on Xbox 360? Looking at Lost Planet 2, it seems very hard to believe that it's been that long, because in terms of visuals, mechanics and game engine, the game hasn't necessarily moved on as much as you might think. The big change is in LP2's new status as a pure co-op multiplayer experience, although the truth is, it actually adheres way too close to the original gameplay template set by Extreme Condition years ago.

Lost Planet 2's campaign is designed entirely around multiplayer, and as such, the single-player experience suffers in trying to replicate the online experience, resulting in an ultimately joyless slog, divided into disjointed, stop-start piecemeal missions that make the whole thing feel sporadic and bitty. For multiplayer, the mission structure makes perfect sense, but there's sadly no consideration for lone wolves.

Lost Planet 2 is undoubtedly rather pretty though, and although the barren snow plains, lush jungles and endless deserts look stunning for the most part, there are far too many rusty, cavernous warehouse locales where you and your merry band must suppress the opposing forces, hack data posts (which now double as spawn points) and make it to the exit point. For the majority of the game, you'll be shooting irritating human enemies, securing said data posts and hoarding T-ENG – the game's ubiquitous orangey energy source. There's always the nagging sense of repetition as you grind your way through the game's six enormous episodes, gathering T-ENG and killing samey bands of troops or ragtag bandits.

T-ENG powers everything, including piloting your VS (Vital Suit) mech, VS turret emplacements, your Harmonizer (health regenerator weirdly activated by holding the START button) and even your sprinting. Thankfully, you normally have an ample supply, but in the latter stages of the game, you'll occasionally find yourself scraping around for the glowing goo, lest you become unceremoniously spat out of your Vital Suit or turret in the middle of a fraught gunfight. There's nothing more annoying, and it'll often dump you at the centre of a hail of gunfire, powerless to move as you're trapped in a recoiling or falling animation, which might be (kind of) realistic, but is massively frustrating nonetheless.

Hacking a data post... *yawn*

Perhaps Lost Planet 2's biggest crime is promising so many enormous Akrid monsters to hunt and defeat, but then simply failing to give the player enough of them to kill. Much of the game's 12 hours or so is spent navigating sparse, dilapidated warehouses and fighting dull, humanoid enemies and their relentless VS units. The game is at its best whenever you encounter the native Akrid and the pace picks up. However, bosses are best tackled in multiplayer, otherwise you're in for a protracted war of attrition, chipping away at a massive health bar for a disproportionate amount of time, which just gets yawnsome after a while as the drama of facing down a spiky monster drains away.

Lost Planet 2 is so much more enjoyable with a group of friends, which might sound like an obvious statement, but we've never had such a miserable time with a game's single-player campaign, at least not in recent memory. But nothing beats getting together to conquer a towering Akrid menace, all four of you plugging away at the creature's exposed weak points. Playing with AI is comparatively painful, as they seldom do what you want them to, like activating data posts while you're already in the process of doing so, rather than defending your position.

It's not all bad news though. Overall, the visuals are slicker, the interface is well-presented – if somewhat messy – and the gameplay has been tightened up a wee bit since its predecessor. There's a genuine weight and heft to the action and the whole package is solid and robustly put together, in the usual quality Capcom style.

As you complete each mission, you're graded upon how well you did in each area, and granted a bunch of medals for completing certain objectives. Lost Planet 2 certainly knows how to dole out its rewards, and destroying certain Akrid and other hostiles gives you collectible boxes that give you credits to spend in the LP2 slot machine on character parts, weaponry and 'noms de guerre' – that's online nicknames (war names) to non-French speakers.

The customisation interface is a little on the messy side, but there are plenty of funny secrets to unlock and the inclusion of Frank West, the Servobot head and other quirky, tongue-in-cheek parts, enable you to create a highly distinctive and stupid-looking character, should you so desire. One that carries across all facets of the game.

It's actually worth persevering through the rough opening to unlock new stuff and get to the later stages of the game, where things gradually begin to improve, although the mission duration becomes sadistically drawn out, meaning that you can go up to 45 minutes or so without a save point. Failing an objective in the dying moments of a mission is teeth-grindingly maddening as a result.

Much like the first Lost Planet, the design and art style is striking throughout and everything has a very unique look to it, from the variety of insect-like Akrid to the bizarre headgear some of the human protagonists sport. All of the VS robots are very cool too, taking in transforming types, ones with laser lances, VS units that can combine and ones that can fly and, well, they're probably one of the best things in the game. It's a real shame therefore, that they're criminally underused. Your enemies always seem to have them though, so why isn't there an option to hijack them!?

Still, Lost Planet 2 has a lot of tricks up its sleeve that it deploys towards the latter half of the game, which almost makes it worth enduring the hours of near-insanity inducing gameplay. Fundamentally, LP2 is best played in small doses, though the competitive versus modes can draw you in for fairly long spells if you're in with a decent bunch of players.

LP 2 at its finest; an Akrid vs a fully loaded VS! Legendary.

Elimination and Team Elimination Return, which also (sigh) involves hacking data posts alongside the standard free-for-all or team deathmatch fracas. Post Grab is yet more data post activation, but is actually quite fun within the context of a multiplayer versus match, whereas Akrid Egg Grab is a twist on the classic capture the flag, but with – get this – an Akrid Egg! Unfortunately, the competitive multiplayer doesn’t really have the depth in its modes and suffers from the same clunky control issues that the campaign does, thus meaning, it’s actually more of a distraction than somewhere to set up shop.

Whether you'll stick around long enough to procure every one of Lost Planet 2's ridiculous achievements is another matter entirely however. It's one of the stupidest lists we've ever seen, and one for serial killers and mental cases only. Reaching level 99 with every character faction will take literally forever and defeating 3000 Akrid requires several playthroughs, as do most of the achievements in fact. To anyone who manages to complete the whole list and garner the full 1000, congratulations! You're certifiably insane! Horrible, just horrible.

Lost Planet 2 is a good looking game and the gameplay mechanics are perfectly sound, but it's deeply flawed and still has many of the annoying bugbears that plagued the first game. Things do improve in the closing stages and beating the campaign with a friend is recommended if played in short bursts, but playing alone is deeply upsetting and should be avoided at all costs.

As a multiplayer game, LP2 pushes a lot of the right buttons, and often succeeds to be entertaining in spite of its somewhat slap-dash interface, treacly movement and finicky controls. LP2 is at it's best when you're shooting a gigantic monster with buddies while piloting a hulking VS with massive Gatling guns. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that doesn't occur nearly as often as it should, so Lost Planet 2 sticks in the memory as an ultimately disappointing action adventure that could have, and should have offered so much more.

Lovely big explosions will give you ringing in the ears and the music has a brassy, Hollywood action movie quality to it. However, some of the guns sound a bit weedy and portions of the soundtrack are a bit dull.

Lost Planet 2's strongest suit is its graphics. When it's not rendering boring, rusty, orange-hued factory complexes, E.D.N. III's jungles, deserts and snowy tundra (we won't spoil the other locations for you), all look gorgeous. Touches like motion-blur when you're caught in a blast look great too.

The first Lost Planet's control system left a lot to be desired, so the fact that it hasn't been fixed is baffling. Being able to turn 90 degrees left or right on the front bumpers is a pointless waste of two buttons for instance. Character movement is frustratingly slow and the entire game is a punishing grind in single-player. Make sure you rope in some friends if you're planning on playing through the campaign.

Lost Planet 2 is a miserable and deeply flawed single-player experience, and although the action picks up considerably during the latter half of the game, a lack of regular checkpoints makes for a punishing final few hours. It's very much an experience best enjoyed in multiplayer.

A truly abhorrent list that only maniacs will dare to tackle. To say that there's a great deal of grinding involved is possibly the biggest understatement of all time. Some of the values that you have to reach seem completely arbitrary and there's little enjoyment to be derived from such a difficult list. Our recommendation? Play the game, yes. But don't even look at the achievements. They're all secret for a reason – they suck.

Lost Planet 2 looked so good in the countless screens and trailers, and indeed the promise of slaying massive beasties was an enticing one. Sadly, there are too many uninspired environments and boring humanoid enemies in the game and not nearly enough Akrid. A lack of genuine innovation and the presence of persisting issues from the first game is unforgivable and frankly, we expected more.


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