The Lost Planet series lost itself when the second game decided to throw out everything and start again — the result was a boring shooter that didn’t build upon the promising foundations of its predecessor. For the third game, Capcom has taken a similarly bizarre approach: Lost Planet 3 has returned to the icy worlds it made famously, but otherwise shares little in common with a series that now finds itself in utter limbo.
The revamp — sent to a Western developer like so many of Capcom’s recent disappointments — narrows the focus to a surprisingly good story set amongst an icy world crippled by storms and inhabited by horrible monsters.
Lost Planet 3 follows beardy protagonist James Peyton 50 years before the original tale. It starts off well enough. Jim’s a family man, struggling to be away from his Earth-based loved ones while farming for precious minerals on EDN III. He drives a totally bad-ass mech with a picture of the wife he left behind always in clear view.
It’s propelled by an interesting villain and the moral dilemmas surrounding limited resources and revitalising a dying planet. But it’s not long before most of this makes way for shooting some giant bugs; again, and again, and again.
Lost Planet 3’s gameplay is split into two parts: on foot and mech.
As you would expect, most of the fun is to be had with the latter, so a majority of the game is played using the former. Depowering the solace of the mechanical beast is facilitated through the freezing overworld. Jim can survive the below freezing temperatures, but the mech’s de-icing equipment only guarantees limited success. Before long, it’ll freeze up, and Jim is forced to jump out and fight on-foot as an over-the-shoulder third person shooter, before removing the ice. It’s not helped by poor level design, clearly made with one method in mind, while feigning the choice to use either.
But there-in lies the problem. While Lost Planet 3’s combat is serviceable, it’s as generic as it comes. Once you’ve killed one latching alien, you’ve killed them all. It doesn’t get any better, and scarcely becomes more challenging as you progress.
The mech offers a little more variety because it’s designed as a mining vehicle that’s had to be improvised for combat. The rudimentary mech goes back to basics with a sturdy claw, and giant drill in-place of its right arm. Each is controlled by the left and right triggers respectively. Using both arms together is the key to success in battle, as you can pick up smaller foes to drill directly into their skulls, or restrain larger enemies while you attempt to mutilate the blindingly obvious glowing weak spot.
Lost Planet 3 is, apparently, an open world game. That’s nothing but a dirty lie. It’s a combination of boring corridors masquerading as a something more, but several boring tubes mashed together doesn’t make a compelling sandbox.
The presentation and development of what should be an engaging atmosphere is further let down by shoddy visuals at every turn. Besides Jim’s rock-hard beard, everything just looks underdone, as if it’s missing the final coat of paint. That just doesn’t fly with a new generation of consoles mere weeks away.
There’s a little bit of respite found in the 5v5 competitive multiplayer types played across six maps, but it’s hard to see it gaining much of a following with such a lacklustre single-player campaign.