Lost Planet 3 is the latest in Capcom’s interplanetary third-person shooter franchise. It might be set on the same frozen planet as its predecessors but the game is worlds apart. The franchise has never really caught on in the west, so the reigns for this game were handed over to California-based studio, Spark Unlimited. Capcom has made it obvious that they wanted to steer the franchise in a new direction and skepticism was high concerning this being successful, given Spark’s past efforts with games like Turning Point and Legendary being less than worthy titles. Well, I am happy to say that this isn’t the case with Lost Planet 3 being their best work to date.
Spark Unlimited have given the series a fresh new outlook, blessing it with a great storyline and grounding the lofty shooting mechanics of previous titles with something more solid and familiar. While this may not be to everyone’s taste, it makes the title a much more approachable shooter, even though it still has notable flaws. Lost Planet 3 is an origin story taking place on the frozen planet E.D.N III. The story isn’t always conveyed convincingly, though it does manage to be intriguing with compelling moments driving the momentum forward. You assume the role of a colonist engineer named Jim Peyton, a typical everyman with outstanding facial hair growth. He’s part of the first human expedition to the planet, which is inhabited by a native alien race called the Akrid, tasked with finding a solution to Earth’s energy crisis.
While the set up may be nothing new, the decision by Spark to focus on a definitive human element at its core rather than the planet itself is a wise move that gives the game added clout. Jim is a pretty likable character, a working class family man doing dangerous work for a healthy bank balance, thanks to a well-written script. He’s a salt of the earth kind of guy who becomes the hero purely by coincidence. Thankfully, the supporting cast is on hand to bring some levity to the otherwise dour experience.
Lost Planet 3 is more open world than previous games. Chapters follow a fairly rigid structure, but inbetween these you are free to roam around and explore the planet with side missions available. Completing these missions well give you credits, which can be spent on new weapons and upgrades as well as modules for your huge bipedal mechsuit or rig. Since, they’re made for mining and not war with the aliens, your rig lacks any weapons. Instead it features drills, grapple claws, and a welding torch, all of which have a part to play in fighting the alien threat. In spite of this variety, there is a tendency to resort to the default method of pummeling away at the Akrid until they die. Attacking, blocking, and countering feels clumsy at times, yet it helps break up the numerous shooting sections.
There is noticeable improvement in the shooting mechanics. although the enemy AI still leaves a lot to be desired. Also, the repetitive nature of the firefights are the game’s biggest threat. There are boss encounters to help break up the monotony, but apart from this be prepared to grind through endless scenarios of stomping hordes of critters and aiming for their glowing weak spots. The designers could have added more variety to the types of enemies, but instead they just throw more of the same type at you to artificially increase difficulty.
The other main issue with the game is the navigation. E.D.N. III can be fully explored, but the issue lies in implementation. It is so ham-fisted that it may put some off entirely. Simple tasks such as killing a certain number of Akrid or activating a checkpoint become time sapping chores and the payoff hardly justifies the effort made. Another questionable design choice is the hub is broken up into several floors, which means lots of loading screens as you go talk to an NPC to resolve said missions.
Lost Planet 3 packs in some interesting concepts with its online mode. Standards such as Team Deathmatch are here along with other standard objective-based modes. One mode of note is Akrid Survival, which combines cooperative and competitive play. Two teams of three spawn on opposite sides of the arena and points are scored by killing Akrid. Once the third stage is reached, teams compete head-to-head. Another interesting features is the progression sphere, which is similar to an experience system. You earn money by playing online matches, you use the money to buy perks, and for each perk bought you get a level boost. On the whole, a solid online experience that will hold your attention.
The game has some really nice aesthetics. E.D.N. III has plenty of spectacular landmarks and the pre-rendered cutscenes are often sublime. The art direction is also beautiful. The same can’t be said about performance consistency. During later stages where the screen is full of Akrid, the framerate nosedives.
The sound is pretty good on the whole. Voice-acting is above average, sound effects are spot on, and the background music suits the mood.
The single-player campaign is where most will find value for money in this title. The multiplayer is a nice diversion, but there isn’t enough there to warrant a purchase for that mode alone.
Lost Planet 3 has come a long way since Extreme Condition. Yet, even now, it feels like the series is playing catch-up. When playing this game I had a strong feeling that Capcom were trying to emulate other, more successful action games such as Dead Space. While it does somewhat succeed in this regard, the genre continues to evolve, and this game is struggling to keep up.
AAG SCORE: 7/10
- Improved Gameplay
- Grounded Story, Memorable Characters
- Interesting Multiplayer
- Side Missions are a Grind
- Repetitive Shooting
- Framerate Issues