Friday, December 31, 2010

Lost Planet 2: So Awesome I Wish I Liked It More


I'm typically willing to put up with a lot of design flaws, or poor design decisions in a video game, if there's enough there that's really entertaining. Lost Planet 2 is an example of a game that is simply phenomenal in many ways, but because of one design decision, I can't keep playing it.

In Lost Planet 2 you play a snow pirate, who wanders around a desolate, frozen, alien world, scavenging weapons and equipment, while killing the local fauna to harvest thermal energy and keep from freezing to death.

For the most part, it plays like your average third person shooter, you can carry up to two weapons, and one flavor of grenade. One of the things that is exceptional about it is the variety of things you'll be shooting at. You have other humans, of course, as well as the myriad alien life forms, all of which are hostile. You've got delicate flying guys, that come at you in swarms, and die by the dozen, you've got spider things the size of large bears that come out of orifices on the walls, you have to destroy the orifice, or the spiders keep coming. And then you've got giant monsters the size of industrial construction equipment, or larger.

One of your main tools through out the game is an arm mounted grappling line, which lets you climb up on top of anything, and what I think is an upgrade for the sequel, you can even grapple onto the larger enemies in order to anchor yourself to them while firing into their weak spot. Stop for a minute and think about what that looks like, yes it really is that epic.

The other tool you have in this game that isn't common in most shooters are mechs, here they're called VSs, and typically they're around 10-15 feet tall, and it's a very seamless experience, you're running around on the ground shooting stuff, see a VS, walk up to it, hop in, and now you're running around shooting stuff with two huge chain guns, or you can transform into a high speed wheeled vehicle, or I don't know, there was a mention in one of the tips that there was a mech that transformed between three different modes.

Lost Planet 2 is primarily a multiplayer game, the campaign mode feels really tacked on. However, for the sequel, they decided to include four player cooperative play, everything is that much more fun when you're doing it with a friend.

Okay, I'm saying nothing but great things, so where's this huge flaw that I mentioned? Let me walk you through my play session:

I started off the campaign mode with 3 AI team mates (I have few friends that play online, and none of them own this game), the four of us were wandering through the snow, three piloting mechs, with one hanging off the side of a mech. One of the mechs breaks down, and we continue on with two mechs, each with a guy hanging off an arm.

We came upon some of the spider guys I mentioned, cleaned them out, but all of the mechs broke down afterward. As we went to meetup with a chopper to lift us out, we came across a giant crab/lobster/insect monster. It swung two huge arms around at us, each with a weak point that you could shoot at to blow off the offending limb. After taking off one arm, I grapped onto it's but, and tore into it with my assault rifle, eventually it went down.

We got to the chopper, and then were dropped into our next mission, raiding a jungle section of the planet, dozens of troop choppers carried four man squads over a lake, deployed rafts, and then started dropping troops, just then a massive swarm of the flying creatures overtook the fleet, and most of the aircraft were destroyed.

After getting on the raft, we made it to land, and fought our way through the jungle, killing aliens and "Jungle Pirates" until we reached our objective. Mission over.

"I think this is a good time to stop, I've been playing for 20-30 minutes, it's late, and I need to take a break" When I went back to it, I discovered that if you don't complete an entire chapter, which is made up out of I don't know how many missions, the next time you load up the game, you have to start at the beginning of the chapter again. Five years ago, that might not of have bothered me, but I just don't regularly get to play games for more than 30 minutes at a stretch. I may end up playing 2 hours a night, although usually it's more like 1 hour, but I don't get to play all of that straight. So, essentially I would be doomed to only be able to make any progress in this game on the one day of the weekend where I can sit and play a game for 1-2 hours straight without interruption.

It's really too bad.

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