May 18, 2010 by Paul Curtin
With a story set ten years after the events of the first game, the Lost Planet series is back with new exotic locations, new weapons, new monsters, and a new revamped co-op style of play. Lost Planet 2 fuses the look and feel of the popular action series Gears of War with a new style of gameplay mechanics taken from Capcom’s widely successful role-playing series Monster Hunter. While Gears of War is quickly becoming a household name here in the U.S., the Monster Hunter series is still widely unknown mostly due to its success coming overseas in Japan. Now with Monster Hunter 3 on the Wii being a huge hit here in the States, Capcom has released its second installment to the Lost Planet series with some big changes that might upset fans of the original.
The first thing players will notice when booting up Lost Planet 2 is a completely revamped way of starting a campaign. Following the latest trend of Monster Hunter-style RPG games overseas, Lost Planet 2 uses a unique system for story mode where players no longer have the option to jump right into a single player campaign; instead, players must now set up a game similar to setting up a multiplayer game, select an episode/chapter and select if they would like to play the game cooperatively with three other people online or play alone with bots as teammates. There’s no way to play the game completely by yourself; whether you play with other people or computer replacements, you’ll always be in a squad of four.
The new campaign system isn’t a bad thing for a game that’s focused on co-op, but it causes Lost Planet 2 to fall into the same category as Capcom’s other franchise, Resident Evil 5, which featured a terrible A.I. partner that ruined the experience when playing without another person online. Playing with friends is fun, which is Capcom’s point, but playing alone with the computer as a partner will drive a player furious as the computer “partner” stands around contributing almost nothing to fights, using items incorrectly and worst of all, not adjusting its own line of sight and repeatedly firing shots into walls.
Whereas the computer squad members are nowhere near as bad as Resident Evil 5’s, they’re still no match for playing with real people and take away from the fun “OMG! WTF is that?” moments that players experience when discovering giant Cloverfield-size monsters with others online for the first time. I had no problem finding others online wanting to play the same levels as me; however, sometimes a player would leave, resulting in a bot taking his place and certain areas becoming more difficult to clear due to having no control over the bots and them being unreliable.
Another big difference players will notice is the new level style that is also similar to the Monster Hunter series. Some levels are very short with only one objective; after completing a level the game will take all players back to a lobby with a loading screen where they can review their stats and have the option to leave the game. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about this new Monster Hunter-inspired level style, but I must say, I like it. Though I wouldn’t want every video game I play to have the same short level style of Capcom’s Lost Planet 2 and Monster Hunter, I think it works well for both games and gives them a fun arcade-like feel where you can quickly jump in and out of games and compare stats with the people you’re playing with to see who’s kicking the most ass and who’s trailing behind.
Lost Planet 2 is definitely a solid game with plenty of fine changes, but there are still many flaws that keep it from being a great game which should have been fixed since the first game. The first problem with LP2 is that it lacks any real story. None of the characters you play as have names and even if they did, you wouldn’t have time to learn them as the game jumps around, switching you to a new faction with new main characters at the start of every new chapter. Famous characters from other games such as Gears of War, Resident Evil, Dead Rising and Killzone can be unlocked after beating the game and used in the co-op campaign and multiplayer modes, but their actual use in the story adds nothing besides a different skin over the original character.
Even though they may not add anything to the plot, playing as characters like Marcus Fenix from Gears of War and Frank West from Dead Rising is one of the many unique options that gives LP2 such great replayability. Enemies that are killed in the campaign drop boxes which reward players with currency and other items. Currency that is collected by players can be used to play a slot machine that rewards players by unlocking hundreds of new characters, outfits, weapons, abilities, emotes and call signs — all of which are available to use in both co-op and multiplayer.
The second problem is the controls: there really haven’t been any improvements since the first game was released over three years ago, making character movement have the same sluggish feel of the original. Although the clunky controls are acceptable when fighting slow enemies in co-op, multiplayer is a whole ‘nother story. The controls of LP2 just don’t cut it when compared to other similar multiplayer games on the market today with controls that allow for more fast-paced and precise gameplay.
While the controls aren’t the best, the main problem with mutliplayer is the unique damage/health system. Weapons like the machine gun take way too many bullets to kill someone; you’ll literally see players chasing each other around the map unloading full clips into each other and neither player dying. To make the damage system even more bizarre, the health recovery system from co-op has been completely removed from multiplayer, which leaves players with no means to recover health no matter how low their current health may be. The only way to recover health in multiplayer is by unlocking the Regen Grenade or Injection Gun, both of which I wasn’t lucky enough to win from the slot machine and unlock in my 14 hours of playtime and 90 levels of grinding.
The last problem I had with multiplayer were the different game modes. There seem to be seven different game modes for players to choose from, yet the only mode with actual people playing it is Team Elimination, which is just a typical team deathmatch where each team races to reach a predetermined kill count. It’s not really Capcom’s fault that nobody is choosing to play the other modes; I guess they could try to make them better, but one of the main problems that can be attributed to the lack of people playing other modes is that the multiplayer game modes have no descriptions next to their names. What the hell is Akrid Egg Battle? I have no idea and I’d like to find out, but there’s zero people playing it and while you can play co-op with bots, there’s no option to play mutliplayer with bots. I had to google “Akrid Egg Battle” to find out that it’s supposed to be a Capture the Flag-style game, which sounds like the most fun mode of the seven to choose from — shame there’s never one game available to play and nobody joins if you create one on Xbox Live.
All in all; Lost Planet 2 is worth renting, the unique level style allows casual players with limited time to hop in and out of games, and at the same time the new advanced player customization and leveling system make the game’s co-op story mode have great replayability. If you’re looking for a detailed story with memorable main characters, then Lost Planet 2 isn’t for you; however, if you’re looking for a fun game full of big challenges and even bigger alien monsters to fight, then LP2 is the game for you. The large scale, epic boss battles alone are better than any video game to date and make Lost Planet 2 worth checking out. Lost Planet 2 gets 4 out of 5 stars (Great).
- Epic boss fights with behemoth-sized monsters in every mission.
- 4-player co-op that works flawlessly and actually requires players to work together.
- Stunning visuals that play with smooth frame rates even during the most chaotic fights.
- Leveling system with hundreds of new characters, outfits, weapons, abilities, emotes and call signs that can be unlocked gives the game great replayablity.
- Dated controls and other small flaws that should have been fixed since the original are still present.
- New unique co-op campaign style and level design make playing the game alone frustrating.
- Competitive multiplayer feels sluggish and lacks essential features from co-op.