Cubic zirconia is an interesting product. It’s a synthetic, inexpensive alternative to diamonds; it's easy to form into shapes and put on jewelry. Even though it might good, it's ultimately not the “real deal.” It wouldn't be good enough to give your loved one as a cherished gift. After spending many hours with the PC version of Lost Planet 2, I’m sad to report that it has a lot in common with the imitation diamond.
Lost Planet 2 certainly looks fantastic like a shiny new diamond. Even with minimal load times, Capcom managed to squeeze incredible detail into the environments, characters and Akrid. My medium-level system was able to crank the graphics up and use DirectX 11 features. The result was convincingly grungy cities, lush jungles, and hostile deserts in addition to the returning harsh, snowy environments. In one instance, the buildings you fight on can even be crumbled to the ground by stampeding Akrid.
Character models were shown loving attention, but there just isn’t enough variety in the humanoid characters. Each human is just another face behind a mask, all looking the same. Granted, some of them are clones but that feels almost like an excuse to fall asleep at the creative wheel. During a game, you’ll end up controlling a few different characters with a severe lack in individuality. Even your AI-controlled teammates are “random” players that are given a new name each time you login to the game. Why should I be concerned about a haphazard plot when all of the characters are stripped of all vestiges of humanity?
It’s made even worse by the fact that your teammates are dumb as a rock. Scratch that - I would prefer rocks that I could throw at enemies instead of the horrid placeholders running beside me. Like the first game, Lost Planet 2 has various data posts that should be activated. These act as spawn points when you die (you’re given a certain amount of lives before you see the game over screen) and also enable the mini-map that shows the location of all enemies in an area. Your teammates would often run right past these without activating them, making you backtrack to do it yourself. Or they’ll stand there taking pot shots at a bug the size of a skyscraper when there are heavy weapons laying right beside them.
Enemy AI doesn’t fare any better, though, so at least it’s a level playing field. It’s a common occurrence to run into an area and see the enemy just standing around or looking at a wall. Even firing on said enemies might not cause them to react. If they do notice that they’re almost dead or have an object to deactivate, they’ll run in a straight line oblivious to cover or impending death. I can understand this from a mindless bug but not from the most evolved species now known.
One thing I did thoroughly enjoy were the cut scenes. These were well-directed and action-packed with numerous “wow moments.” Even the soundtrack and audio made the experience more involving. Bugs sounded juicy and explosions felt powerful. I would actually watch one with eager anticipation for the next opportunity to control my character. You could even skip them if you wanted, which is good because there are certain videos you’d have to watch repeatedly. Why? There is no quick save option.
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