The ice may have melted away, but we still can’t shake this cold feeling that Lost Planet 2 has left us with. The long-in-the-works sequel has finally arrived after many months in the cooler (no pun intended), but we can’t help but feel a little lukewarm over its offering. It’s still a functional action game with plenty of big, bad Akrid to bring down, but its structuring and limitations might be too much for some players to bear.
Once again, you’re sent to the planet surface of EDN III. The icy landscape has melted away, revealing a tropic setting that’s anything but paradise. Mercenaries are scattered about, with some blasting around in giant mechanized suits. If that isn’t enough, those pesky Akrid aliens are back for more, hatching from the ground and birthing in inhuman generators. Those are the least of your worries though, as you’ll soon run into bigger iterations of these creepy creatures. We’re talking about a big six-legged beast and a grasshopper-like monster that won’t hesitate to smash you into soggy little chunks.
While Lost Planet 2 may sound promising, it comes up short in too many areas to work out. Part of the problem is the way the game is set up. Instead of going through continuously long missions, they’re broken up into smaller sections. You complete a stage, wait a bit for the result, and then move onto the next one. They’re varied, with lots to shoot at alongside up to three friends, but the constant starting and stopping of chapters is frustrating. Furthermore, the lack of checkpoints is a real pain. When you die, you’ll have to start all the way back at the beginning of a stage, leaving you rushing to get back into the firefight on the other side.
Another problem is starting up a game, whether it’s single-player or co-op. If you’re by your lonesome, you’ll still need to set up a multiplayer match with three AI teammates, all of which are about as smart as a car bumper. (That’s okay, the enemy AI matches their intelligence.) This takes longer than expected. It would’ve been nice for Capcom to just give us a “quick start” into Campaign, but no such luck here. The online co-op is solid, but it’s limited too often. You can’t pause a live co-op session, and others can’t join you until your current mission is complete, which takes a decent amount of time.
One thing that the game does do right is competitive multiplayer. Going up against others in battle is a lot of fun, and there are several different variations to choose from, including an addictive Akrid Egg hunt mode. That said, it still won’t replace Call of Duty or Halo anytime soon. It’s good, but nowhere near what Capcom expects it to be.
As for the gameplay itself, it holds together, but too many functions are assigned to the B button. Activating switches, melee attacks and running are all stacked on one button, while the others serve separate functions. While you’ll still run and gun, hop into mech suits (good times) and use a rappelling cord to reach new heights just like in the original, the option to change to a more convenient control method would’ve been nice.
Lost Planet 2 sounds outstanding. A whopper of an orchestrated score plays in the background (although intermittently), and there are plenty of big bangs coming from your guns and grenades. The soldier chatter gets a little tiring over time, but it never hits the groan-worthy Resident Evil-lows. It could be better, but it could also be worse.
Graphically, Lost Planet 2 looks fine for a sequel. It’s great to see the actual lay of the land for a change, rather than walking around in a winter wonderland and underground caves. The tropical foliage definitely has some life to it, and the animation on the characters – particularly the massive Akrid bosses – impresses. However, we did a comparison between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions to see what holds up better. Surprisingly, despite the reported size limitations on the regular disc format, the Xbox 360 wins out. It has a much smoother frame rate and far less bugs than the PS3 version. And this after Sony’s edition requires a limiting 4.6 GB hard drive install. That simply doesn’t make any sense.
In the end, Lost Planet 2 simply can’t overcome its problems. Capcom did put some initiative into making the game different than the first, but its silly co-op rules, straining game set-up and questionable AI make it feel defrosted.