The original Lost Planet was an engaging and cinematic experience, albeit one with a few flaws that kept it from truly being a classic. However, instead of outright rectifying these issues, publisher/developer Capcom has taken a different route and gone back to the drawing board for the sequel, Lost Planet 2. The sequel almost feels like a completely different game, with only a few elements tying it to the original.
Lost Planet 2 features story elements and controls that mirror a lot of the experience of the first game, giving you two basic enemy types to take on, Space Pirates and the insect-like Akrid. Aside from that, this could be a completely different game. The game’s controls have been tightened up immensely and feel a lot more fluid (although they’re still not perfect). The setting has moved away from the barren, snow-covered environments of the original for more lush, jungle settings. You’ll have access to some pretty cool weaponry, including a variety of guns both suitable for ranged and up-close combat. Additionally, there are several VS’s (mechs) that you can pick up and ride. These are pretty diverse as well, featuring different methods of movement like flight or bipedal walking, as well as several high-powered weapons.
The gameplay in Lost Planet 2 is very fast-paced and the action can get pretty hairy. There are three gauges you need to be mindful of when fighting. Your health gauge is the standard one, and it goes down as you take damage from enemies, while the T-Gauge from the first game returns in a modified form. It still ties to your health, replenishing your health slowly at a cost of T-Energy until it’s depleted. You now have a feature known as the Harmonizer, which will refill your health quicker should you be in real dire straits, but at a cost of more T-Energy than usual.
The third gauge is a new feature, the Battle Gauge. The Battle Gauge is shared by your team and depletes or fills depending on your actions. You’ll gain Battle Gauge points by activating data points (which double as spawnpoints when one of your team dies), and you’ll lose them by dying. You’re able to respawn your soldiers until you deplete the Battle Gauge completely, at which point it’s game over.
The respawning system works great in the game’s co-op centered campaign, and is especially handy when you’re fighting one of the game’s huge bosses. These bosses are capable of wiping you out in one hit and take a long time to defeat, and you and your group will have to work in tandem to defeat them quickly and efficiently.
From the moment you begin the campaign, it is clear that Lost Planet 2 was created as a co-op experience. The game defaults to having you play on Xbox LIVE, giving you the option to start a party or do a quick match with other random players online. Even if you opt for the offline single-player mode, you’re still given three other AI soldiers that will be your constant companions. In this regard, the game has more in common with other co-op focused games like Left 4 Dead than it does its predecessor.
While the game does a fine job of providing more action and less downtime than the original Lost Planet, there are still quite a few glaring issues that will cause unnecessary frustration. The game has a lack of checkpoints that save, requiring you to play through entire chapters in order to get to a point where you can save your progress and stop playing. Couple this with the fact that you can’t pause the game (a result of the game’s constant online focus) and you’ll have to replay some pretty substantial portions of the game.
When playing solo, the AI characters seem to hold their own pretty well at first, but when the difficulty ramps up in later portions, they’ll make you wish that you had more competent human counterparts. They’ll help you out and carry their own weight for the most part, healing you when you need it and taking out enemies, but when required to perform some of the most complex tasks later on, you’ll find yourself doing most of the work. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that you can’t give them any orders or commands whatsoever, leaving you to simply do what you can and hope they’ll keep enemies off of your back.
Another thing that hampers the single-player element is the somewhat lackluster mission objectives. More often than not, you are required to do little more than proceed from one section to another, activating data points as you go before either proceeding to the goal or the mission completes itself, killing off any enemies that get in your way. This has everything to do with the game’s reliance on cooperative play, but ultimately makes the single-player game feel like an afterthought.
Still, if you find yourself playing mostly with others instead of alone, many of the aforementioned issues aren’t much of a concern. The co-op experience is fantastic, and feels very balanced and engaging. Additionally, the game boasts a competitive online component with several modes from the previous game, as well as some new ones. You can level up your character as you progress, getting more features and abilities. Using weapons and VS’s are important to the competitive component and make it feel unique when held up against other online action games.
Lost Planet 2 is definitely a different beast from its predecessor, focusing almost exclusively on a cooperative experience in its campaign. If you’re the type of gamer who likes to play with friends online, then Lost Planet 2 could have an exciting experience for you and your buddies. However, there are some glaring flaws to expect if you’re flying solo.