Thursday, 29 August 2013

Lost Planet 3 - Final Round Review

On E.D.N. III, every day could be your last.

Lost Planet 3 has a surprisingly interesting story; contrary to my expectation of a vague plotline with masked characters offering little more than a mission, much in the vein of Lost Planet 2.  I have been pleasantly surprised by a well-rounded story filled with interesting character development, mysteries, and a whole lot of intense and frantic alien battles.

The main character, Jim Peyton, is a contracted construction worker who has brought his all-purpose mining Rig, Gertie, to E.D.N. III with him with a goal of making money to send back to his family on Earth.  As you trek through the frigid terrain, battling Akrid and surviving storms that can snap freeze your rig in place, it becomes apparent that something is not right with the planet.  Shadowy figures and shocking discoveries on the desolate landscape give Lost Planet 3 a subliminal horror element that is appreciated, adding intensity to the story as well as the combat.

Lost Planet 3 has two major forms of gameplay, the third person shooter sections which have you gunning down small, medium, and large Akrid and Rig combat, where you duke it out with giant Akrid (some are the size of mountains) in first person.  While on foot, the game takes you from the large open outdoors to claustrophobic facility’s, giving some variation in ways to fight the Akrid.  You can gain access to roughly five different main weapons as well as side arms and grenades; it’s not a huge selection and a few more weapons would have been appreciated.  Some of the guns can be upgraded, once.  It seems like a missed opportunity, you can upgrade stuff like clip size on the machine gun or the calibre of your pistol but more upgrades would be good.  As for the Rig, upgrades are a plenty as you unlock new pieces and upgrade hull armour and abilities as you progress and make money.

These upgrades allow you access previously unreachable areas, locate pockets of T-Energy, and help you destroy your enemies with a little more flare (giant electrified grappling arm anyone?).  Combat gets frantic with a solid variation of Akrid attacking you in swarms, each with their own ways of trying to kill you; getting blasted, eaten, or crushed are some of the nicer ends to your day on E.D.N. III.  Getting around is done inside your Rig which is really fun most of the time, but as there is a decent amount of back tracking it can become repetitive.  There is also a fast travel feature but it doesn’t work very well and teleports you into the vague area you need to be in, and is only accessible at the start of doorways. 

Wandering through E.D.N. III in your rig can be an enjoyable visual experience; scenery looks fantastic and changes often with heavy winds, storms rolling through, a beautiful sunny days.  You will also find yourself exploring caves, mountain tops, and mysterious facility’s, which all look fantastic and well designed.  Akrid have some fantastic animations, they are a cross between crustaceans and insects, and have some crazy designs.  I personally love the larger creatures with gigantic claws and gaping maws filled with teeth that come barrelling down on you, there are even giant scorpion/crab creatures which spray you with some kind of poison.  Unfortunately some of the human characters look a little dull at times, especially their faces, and since the game is running on Unreal Engine 3 it can take time for the textures to pop in which adds to the problem.  At one stage you walk through water to enter a building, and the only way to describe the experience would be like walking through a river of jelly.  Overall the visuals are great but a few small issues keeps it from being amazing. 

I wanted to make special mention of the characters in Lost Planet 3; even from when the game beings they are all individual, and act as you would expect towards a newcomer.  Most missions will be bookended with a private message from one of the characters, either in a load screen or on your trek back to base in your Rig; I was surprised at how much character was developed in these short, simple messages and how attached you get to each of them.  The video messages are a small, yet brilliant, way to add dimension to characters without long cut scenes or the need for constant conversations. 

Competitive multiplayer is mostly added into games these days to extend its life, but thankfully Lost Planet 3 has a pretty solid multiplayer with unlocks and a large amount of maps.  Games modes include a standard team death match, an interesting take on capture the flag (kill the Akrid carrying it first then fight against the other team to pick up the T-energy) and a cool co-operative/vs. mode.  The last mode involves killing as many Akrid as possible to make more points than the other team, the timer ticks down and the next area opens to repeat the process, when the timer ticks down again it opens up the whole map and it becomes a king of the hill battle for supremacy.  The unlocks are pretty cool, giving you grenade launchers and plasma rifles as you progress through online domination, if you are into competitive multiplayer then it is defiantly worth a look.

Lost Planet 3 has roughly a 9 hour campaign if you stick to the story and not veer far off completing side missions.  In a current generation where even RPG’s can take under 4 hours, it is defiantly worth commending the Spark Unlimited team for seeing the value of the single player story and not following on the mistakes of the last entry.  As a single player game, Lost Planet 3 throws fist fulls of awesome at you and, even with a few visual hiccup’s and an incredibly small upgrade system, I had a blast playing it.  Add in an interesting and rather unique multiplayer mode, giving you all the leveling and upgrading you want, you have yourself one very awesome title.


 - Will Flynn

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