Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
(Capcom for Xbox 360)

Lost Planet is a solidly entertaining and somewhat difficult shooter that brings several interesting play mechanics to the table, with cool mech suits and the unique thermal energy system giving the game a unique feel. Your enemies are also surprisingly aggressive and will attack you relentlessly. Adding to the challenge is the planet itself, a frozen wasteland where the snow drifts themselves will slow your progress. Lost Planet's graphics engine is excellent with expansive environments, impressive character design along with superb weather and lighting effects. This is one of the most polished and enjoyable shooters on the console to date so read on and find out why the journey to Lost Planet is worth the trip.

Set in a desolate wasteland filled with snow and ice, Capcom's intensely challenging shooter Lost Planet: Extreme Condition throws more than a few twists into the FPS genre. You're cast as a mysterious ice pirate named Wayne who finds himself marooned on an outer region planet that's been colonized by humans, only to be abandoned when an alien force known as the Acrid appears and wreaks havoc on the forces. The only thing you remember is how you lost your father and how to fight the endless swarm of Acrid creatures. Once you get beyond the opening cinematic sequences, you find yourself wandering around in a desolate, frozen wasteland where you can find yourself under attack suddenly. As you walk through the thick frozen landscapes, you'll see your health indicator and thermal units gradually decreasing due to the harsh conditions you encounter. In order to increase you health, you must find Thermal units. These can be found by blowing up objects, such as cars or trucks that you find. However, there's a much more reliable way to gain this precious commodity: kill any of the Acrids you encounter.

Defeating the Acrid isn't as easy as it sounds, since there are many types of these creatures and they behave quite aggressively. You can find yourself standing all alone in a seemingly deserted section when they suddenly break through the ground and attack you without warning. You can also be lulled into a false sense of security when you seemingly wipe out an area of Acrid, only to find additional waves of them attacking from out of nowhere. The AI is very effective at keeping you off balance, and the effect can be quite unsettling at points. This approach keeps you constantly aware of the danger you face, making it less likely that you'll become complacent. They charge and stomp you without hesitation, and their relentless attacks blow you out of position, quickly throwing you off your feet. There are several types of Acrid in the game, ranging from flying monsters that attack in swarms, rolling ones who will pummel you relentlessly and giant spider-like mini-bosses who rage at you and will quickly try and stomp you into the ground. The good news is that the Acrid have a well-defined weak spot, which usually glows and shows you where to concentrate your fire. This makes it easy to know where, but the tricky part is figuring out how to move away from their attacks and get out of their way while they're attacking. What makes this even harder is that you'll frequently have to battle several types of Acrid at the same time. There are also bands of rival Ice Pirates on the planet as well, which makes things even more chaotic and intense.

As you battle the Acrid, you won't be fighting without any weapons. In addition to the standard array of guns, pistols, machine guns and rocket launchers (all of which can be found either by digging into the snow or offing rival Ice Pirates) you can also throw rocket grenades and infict damge on your opponents. One of the coolest features of Lost Planet is that it allows you to gat off your feet for short bursts using a rappel cord to leap up to high ledges and surfaces. This is a very useful technique to master, since many areas are inaccessible otherwise. In addition to the on-foot combat, players can jump into cool mech VR suits during certain areas of the game. In addition to offering increased firepower, the give you added protection from the Acrid assaults. When you're piloting your VR suit, you are safer but not invincible.

You still need to avoid damage and have to keep a constant eye on your power status as well, since you'll have to jump out and run away from them before they explode if you take too much damage. There are several types of these suits in the game, and they all offer a unique set of weaponry. In addition, using these is critical in most boss battles, so you should use your time with them to learn their mechanics and controls before you face off against one of the larger opponents. These suits definitely gives Lost Planet a unique feel and create a much greater sense of variety than standard first person shooters. From a control standpoint, it's fairly easy to move around using the basic control scheme, and you can quickly change your viewpoint using the shift buttons as well. During the game, firing and targeting are fairly easy to accomplish, and the jumping cord is fairly easy to use. You can also change your viewpoint from the default third-person perspective to a cool first-person viewpoint on the fly as well. The same holds true whether you're attacking on foot or in one of the suits. Lost Planet should be fairly easy to control for most players, and the game's conventional setup makes it fairly easy to get into for those who've played FPS titles. Once you're in the heat of combat, things become even more intense, but the controls are intuitive and don't hinder the action.

As you'd expect from Capcom, Lost Planet sports some incredibly impressive visuals. The desolate snow covered areas are incredibly realistic with realistic wind effects creating large drifts. There's an impressive sense of scale in the size of the buildings and objects which create a tangible sense of isolation and smallness in the main character. The Acrid themselves are beautifully designed and rendered with a great attention to detail. Their movements and attack patterns are believable and create a real sense of fear, since they usually dwarf the player in terms of size and mass. This is particularly true with the boss creatures, which fill the screen and create some of the more impressive enemies seen in a console title to date. The game's presentation is fluid and slick, with Lost Planet moving along at an excellent pace throughout. You can definitely feel the tension rising as you get closer and closer to a group of Acrid, while the ongoing plot offers a sense of distrust and doom that makes your battles seem all the more urgent and intense as you discover the truths about what's really happening on the planet. Lost Planet's high-polished production values, excel in terms of cinematics, with excellent voice acting and appropriate music. The special effects, such as explosions, light sourcing and weather effects are superb. All this comes together almost flawlessly in creating a sleek, impressive game that showcases both the console's power and Capcom's talent.

Obviously, there are going to be many comparisons made between Lost Planet and Gears of War, but while the games share many similarities, they are also quite different. Gears' unique duck and cover system and unique first-person on the ground mode and gritty environments made it a far different beast. Lost Planet, in contrast has simpler play mechanics and a completely different science fiction feel that gives it a far less brutal feeling. Of course, one of the huge differences is the fact that Lost Planet allows you to control mechs, while they are strangely absent in Gears. The game's presentation is a bit more distant and emphasizes the environmental hardships of its frozen wastelands, while this wasn't a factor in Gears. Your constant need to find thermal energy throughout your missions is another key differentiator and makes the gameplay much more strategic in nature. From a visual standpoint, both Gears and Lost Planet create stunning worlds to explore and destroy with incredibly detailed enemies to battle. Both titles are excellent in their own right and should be played by all Xbox 360 owners. In the end, it's probably a draw. Even though both titles are slick high-tech shooters, they offer very different experiences. Gears is harder to get into but becomes easier as you go along, while Lost Planet offers easier controls but makes up for it with more difficult boss encounters.

These comparisons aside, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition stands alone as a solidly entertaining and surprisingly difficult shooting and action title for the Xbox 360. Its basic play mechanics offer a satisfying experience with some pretty intense battles, impressive landscapes and some really cool play mechanics. Constantly having to monitor your health and thermal energy adds to the sense of urgency, while the gameplay itself offers several twists on the genre. Mixing standard FPS conventions with some mech battles gives Lost Planet a unique feel that helps to set it apart from the pack. Its use of snow to slow you down offers a change of pace from standard games, while the aggressive AI and intuitive controls add to the game's ease of use. A slick graphics presentation, large areas to explore and highly detailed enemies give Lost Planet a beautiful, almost cinematic feel throughout. Lost Planet's elements are nearly flawless, making this one of the best titles on the console to date that easily ranks as another superb release from Capcom.

Grade: B+

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