Friday, October 18, 2013

The Many Days of Horror! - Lost Planet Extreme Condition Colonies Edition

I wasn't sure I'd bother reviewing this as part of the Many Days of Horror thing I've got going, but it's been a tough month and Lost Planet is technically in some corner of the venn diagram where survival horror overlaps with space marine action and alien invasions. That said....there's not really a lot of horror (or attempt at such) in Lost Planet beyond the chilling cold of the ice world that is EDN III and the vast array of indigenous life forms that want to eat you, along with the obligatory evil corporation that wants to terraform the planet by wiping out all life on it.

Lost Planet is a few years old now, and a "Extreme Condition Colonies Edition" was released sometime after the original game that is allegedly better. I think this may be true; I remember getting frustrated with LP on the Xbox 360 when it first came out, but the bargain basement copy I got on PC was pretty fun to play.

The plot in a nutshell: you're Wayne, frozen in ice for a few days, weeks, months or maybe decades (it's a bit nebulous as to just how long) equipped with a special devices that harvests the enigmatic thermal energy which is the only life-sustaining source of power Lost Planet monsters can run on, apparently. The entire premise of this series is actually centered around the following bullet points, actually:

1. Humanity comes to EDN III and finds it a painful place to live. Discovers the so-called thermal energy which is basically like transformer Energon (i.e. fictional and not science-based) which they can ship back to Earth. Or something. It's a bit fuzzy to me.

2. First post-terraform colonization fails, ice age ensues? Ice pirates arise!

3. Evil corporation NEVEC gets involved in terraforming the planet in a way that's terminal to existing residents. Your hero emerges to explain to them at the point of a mecha barrel why this is a bad idea.

This game had some pretty big boss monsters. Aside from the whole "Nevec sucks" part of the dialogue there was a story about a guy who was working for Nevec but then he wasn't but then they kidnapped him anyway and then your protagonist shoots everyone with large calibre rounds from his giant robot.

This game is commendable for having fun and intuitive combat mechanics, albeit with the slow and plodding third-person feel of Gears of War....except with big ass mechs everywhere you can jump in to, and a grappling gun. The storyline is tenebrous thread through which one glorious set piece of action and mayhem erupts into another. The giant boss monsters are there because it's more fun when the planet is plagued with an infinity of giant monsters in an ecosystem that seems to operate around storing up magic thermal energy in their abdominal sacks, which stays comfortably there until you perforate said abdomens with lots of bullets and then soak up the energy. The absorption/processing efficiency of human devices is abysmal, by the way. On harder difficulty levels its easy to run out of thermal energy and freeze to death.

Speaking of which, just play it on easy mode, you'll find the game more tolerable and genuinely fun; this is Capcom, after all! Easy mode means "tough as nails mode for Americans, but a cakewalk for Japanese men married to their pillow brides."

So is it horror? Ummmm probably not quite....but it's got a survival horror feel to it on occasion, albeit stunted by the anime-esque CGI and the proliferation of heavily armed robots lying randomly about waiting for a pilot. Solid fun from a game that was an early arrival in the last-gen console lifespan, but worth checking out considering you can find it for $5 or less on PC these days.


I've since played and finished Lost Planet 2 and am working on Lost Planet 3. Lost Planet 3 is actually a lot of fun, albeit in a "this plays like Dead Space and not Lost Planet" sort of way. Lost Planet 2 was a different beast entirely...more later!

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