Lost Planet 3, a prequel to the series, takes us back to the planet of E.D.N. III, once again giving us a chance to once again pilot big mechs and fight even bigger creatures in a frozen landscape. However, unless Dead Space 3 didn’t give you enough opportunities to slay monsters in an unforgiving icy wilderness, Lost Planet 3 isn’t going to feel very different from other third person shooters.
Lost Planet 3 actually starts with the game’s protagonist, Jim Peyton, trapped and dying under a rockslide on E.D.N. III while his granddaughter tries to save him. Flashing back fifty years earlier, we learn that Peyton came to E.D.N. III as a contractor for a massive corporation called NEVEC, which hopes to mine a unique resource present in E.D.N.’s wildlife, called the Akrid. But, in a predictable fashion, you’ll soon discover you aren’t alone in the icy wastelands, and that Peyton’s home base of Coronis isn’t NEVEC’s first attempt to exploit E.D.N. III’s resources. As far as sci-fi stories go, Lost Planet 3‘s narrative is engaging enough to hold your interest from one plot point to the next, but only barely. Aside from some interesting characters, your quest to solve the mysteries of E.D.N. III and reveal NEVEC’s conspiracies lacks a solid pacing and can feel dull.
When not on foot, you’ll be tromping around the snowy wastes of E.D.N. III in your Utility Rig, a massive mining mech that you’ll control from a first-person perspective. Sadly, your Rig plays the part of a large piece of mining equipment a little too well, and travelling the game world is a slow and arduous process, mitigated slightly with the ability to fast travel between some areas. Unlike previous games in the Lost Planet series, your Rig is devoid of anything resembling actual weapons, meaning you’ll have to rely on your trusty claw and drill arms to win any fights. You’ll be able to crush smaller enemies underfoot or with a swipe of one of your arms, but in combat against the larger, tougher Akrid, you’ll have to rely on patience and good timing to survive. Since your rig is slow and bulky, you’ll have to focus on side-stepping carefully around your opponent and picking the right time to block or counter attack with your Rig’s arms. There’s an interesting challenge in figuring out what pattern of strikes and grapples you’ll need to tear apart some giant ice crab that’s trying to smash its way into your cockpit.
As you progress through the game’s story, the world of E.D.N. III will open up into a quasi open-world setting that certainly looks beautiful and mysterious, but with the aforementioned slowness of your RIG, it can be a pain to travel around. Even walking around your home base of Coronis can feel like a chore, given how many elevators or bulkheads you’ll have to traverse in order to talk to someone who has a mission for you or to get to a quartermaster. It feels like extra padding and a waste of time, especially if you’re trying to get a few upgrades purchased before proceeding to the next story mission. In the event you’re looking to gather up more T-Energy for upgrades or find out a little bit more about the game’s back story, there’s many side missions available and collectibles to hunt down. Ranging from picking up audio logs made by missing colonists to gathering T-Energy from deposits or DNA tagging Akrid for study, there’s plenty of variety in these extra quests. Unfortunately most of them just have you backtrack to areas you’ve already been before. A few even go so far as to have you repeat an earlier story mission in almost the exact same manner; which makes it feel like Lost Planet 3 is just trying to stretch itself out unnecessarily with some of its side content.
For the third person shooter parts of the game, you’ll have the standard arsenal of shotguns and assault rifles to use against the Akrid, your primary enemy for the game. You’ll have a few special weapons at your disposal, like a crossbow that launches exploding bolts and a laser sniper rifle you can charge up to one-shot some enemies. You won’t feel inclined to switch up your load-out too often though, given how useless some of the guns feel. The burst-firing pulse rifle, for example, feels woefully underpowered, while the shotgun is so effective at taking out almost any enemy you’ll came across that you’ll rarely go anywhere without it. T-Energy will serve as your currency for upgrading your Rig and weapons, and you’ll accumulate mass quantities of the stuff through the missions you complete and the hordes of Akrid you’ll blast into little pieces.
The Akrid themselves are varied from smaller, egg-like walkers that explode easily under a hail of gunfire to giant scorpion-like beasts that spew acid from their tails. Many of the Akrid have bright orange weak points you’ll need to focus fire on to take them out effectively, and the larger, more dangerous enemies are all but immune to your bullets unless you aim carefully for their weak points. Combat against the Arkid can get surprisingly intense, as your travels on E.D.N. III will take you through some very cramped mining facilities and Akrid nests. There are a few occasions where you’ll be backed into a corner with your finger down on the trigger, and you may actually find yourself trying to make a desperate break for the next section in a level versus trying to hold your ground. These moments are sadly rare, as you’ll usually find yourself just going through the motions of gunning down Akrid whenever they show up,. Oddly enough, there is a cover system that you can use occasionally to duck behind overturned desks and crates, but you’ll only use it on a few special occasions since most of the Akrid you face prefer getting up close and personal.
Bottom Line: Lost Planet 3 is a solid third person shooter but is marred by some repetitive gameplay elements and a lack of depth with its mechanics and story.
Recommendation: If you’re a fan of the series and want to see how it all began, or if you didn’t get enough of battling monstrous aliens on a ice world in Dead Space 3, Lost Planet 3 is a decent choice.[rating=3.0]
The multiplayer elements of Lost Planet 3 were not available at time of review.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
Game: Lost Planet 3
Genre: Action Adventure
Developer: Spark Unlimited
Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360