When Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions was originally released I found myself impressed by the graphics and intrigued by the multiplayer, but underwhelmed by the gameplay and the single-player campaign. Lost Planet is a game that I really wanted to enjoy, but there was just something about the game that kept me from having the kind of fun I expect from a big budget Capcom game.
Here we are a year and a half later and Capcom is back with a considerably cheaper version of Lost Planet. Titled Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions Colonies Edition, Capcom's repackaging offers the same mediocre shooter, along with a bunch of extra content. We're talking about brand new multiplayer maps, characters, weapons and more. But are these extras enough to convince both veterans and neophytes to give this Colonies Edition a chance? I chose to give this game a second shot and even with its amazing visuals, I still have decidedly mixed feelings about Lost Planet.
In case you haven't played the original 2007 version, Lost Planet tells the story of bunch of humans trying to colonize a foreign (and very snowy) planet. Before long the humans realize that they are not alone on this new planet, there is actually a native alien life form known as the Akrid. The nice thing about the Akrid is that these insect-like creatures house a very special thermal energy, which is perfect for creating heat and energy, two components the humans are desperate for. Before too long the humans are sending in troops and big mechs to destroy these Akrid creatures, which seems like a lot of work considering the alternatives (which is to, I don't know, find another less-frozen planet).
You play the game as Wayne, a snow pirate that was (you guessed it) discovered frozen in the ice. Seeing as he's been frozen, Wayne is suffering from a slight bought of amnesia. Thankfully he remembers that his father was killed by a large Akrid and that he needs to get revenge on this creature (known as Green Eye) to make everything better. This sets up a short (seven to eight hour) adventure that has you swinging from building to building, getting into mech suits, blowing huge bugs up and weaving yourself through one heck of a convoluted (and boring) story.
If you're played the original version of Lost Planet then this will all sound familiar, since Capcom didn't tweak or add anything to the single-player campaign in any way. The truth is, in Lost Planet: Colonies Edition the single-player mode feels like more of an afterthought (proven by the fact that you only gain five measly achievement points for beating the game on the hardest difficulty). Instead the emphasis is on the multiplayer modes, which have been improved.
This brand new Colonies Edition features all of the maps found in the original game, plus an additional four new levels. These levels are just as detailed as what you saw in the original release, which should certainly please the gamers addicted to Lost Planet's unique gameplay. On top of that you also have ten brand new multiplayer weapons, most of which are actually pretty useful. And don't look now, but you will also be able to take control of five new playable characters, including a certain photojournalist who was recently stuck in a mall battling zombies.
Unfortunately the additional multiplayer content does not come without a steep price tag. Not so much the price of the disc (the MSRP is $29.99), but rather some technical problems that should have been figured out before the game shipped. For example, this version of Lost Planet is curiously not backwards compatible with the older game. That means that if an online player had reached a high level, in Lost Planet: Colonies he's going to start all over at level 1. This probably sounds good to the new Lost Planet players, but it's a big slap in the face to those who are buying this for the added levels and weapons.
What's more, if you already own the original Lost Planet release then you're going to have to think long and hard about whether there's enough new content here to warrant a $30 purchase. We live in a world where there's tons of downloadable content available via the Xbox Live Marketplace, so it makes almost no sense for Capcom to offer these new maps exclusively through an over-priced disc. Maybe if there were more than four new levels the price tag would make sense, but there just isn't enough new multiplayer content to justify buying a separate game.
Then again, this $30 purchase makes complete sense if you're the type of person that wanted to play Lost Planet but couldn't bring yourself to pay $60. The story may not be perfect, but it's a lot easier to swallow for half the original asking price. And while not all of the additional single-player modes are worth playing, there is still enough content here to keep you entertained for at least ten or fifteen hours. $30 isn't a bad price for the content you're getting, even if the game itself is only slightly above average.
The big problem I have with this game can't be improved by new maps and weapons, my issues are with the core gameplay. The game itself plays incredibly slow, to the point where I was actually getting bored running from one corridor to the next. The Bionic Commando-style anchor is fun for climbing to new heights, but it doesn't add nearly enough to the overall gameplay. What's more, the game's weird aiming and movements feel foreign compared to other similar games. Perhaps that has more to do with the fact that this is a Japanese made game and that most third-person action /shooters come from the U.S. But either way, Lost Planet just doesn't feel right to me.
My other big gripe with the gameplay comes with a lot of the little loopholes people have found while playing the game online. For example, you cannot injure a player while they are locked in an animation, so instead of having intense firefights, half the time you're shooting at people that are just rolling away from danger. A roll or two isn't a bad thing, but now that people know that you can't be hurt while doing this they've taken it to an entirely new level of absurdity.
The one thing I'm impressed by is how well the graphics have held up. Since the original release of Lost Planet we've seen some visually stunning Xbox 360 games (BioShock, Call of Duty 4, etc.), yet this Capcom game manages to wow me all these months later. The game does end up using a lot of the same effects too many times, but the explosions are amazing, the enemies are huge and impressive and there's nothing quite like taking down some of the huge Akrid creatures. Sadly the game still feels a little too slow and sluggish for my tastes.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Colonies Edition isn't a bad deal for those who have never played the game, but I would argue that there have been far better third-person action games released on the Xbox 360 in the last year and a half. The multiplayer stuff may be fun, however I don't think it's worth the $30 asking price if you already own the original game. What's more, it's just not that compelling of an action game. I look forward to seeing what Capcom can do with a Lost Planet sequel, but this game still rubs me the wrong way.
Lost Planet: Colonies Edition has all of the same problems the original game had, only this time with a cheaper price point and a ton of new content. Unfortunately there's not enough new content to warrant buying the game again, but if you're new to the franchise you may want to check out this $30 title. It's not perfect, but it's pretty and offers a robust online experience.