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Lost Planet was a long-shot at reviving the sub-genre of arena fighters that Capcom had started some time back. Originally developed on PS2 hardware, Capcom decided that it was better-suited for a next-generation hardware debut. It was well-received (for the most part), and went on to be a bestseller. Most of the reviews for the game were based either on beta versions, or the first release of the game (which had only minor updates), but this article is based on the latest update (which includes several network fixes and a host of new stages). Even at the two-year mark, the game is still going strong (with a thriving online scene), and has pretty-much hit its stride. I've had two years with the game, and played it nearly in its entirety, so it seems like I've had enough time with it to view it as a whole. At this point, though, it wouldn't matter even if I hadn't played it enough; the long-rumored "Colonies" expansion edition has (finally) been confirmed, so the clock is ticking. And once the "Colonies" version is out, I reckon I won't be playing the original for a long, long time. So before it gets lost in the fractures of time (or before I lose my mind), here's a take on the hugely successful Lost Planet...











Taking a cue from the immense success of the Gundam arena fighters, Capcom decided to make their newest one and all-new IP on next-generation hardware. Has it become as popular as the Gundam games that have ruled the arcades recently? The answer is, yes. Like Red Dead Revolver, with Lost Planet Capcom essentially made a robust multi-player game with one hell of a single-player game. People say it's like Ghost Raccoon, and Capcom admits the influence of American first-person shooters, but they actually borrowed a few things from a host of their own arena fighters. Lost Planet is not an entirely new concept in itself; it's basically just a continuation of a sub-genre that Capcom started on the DreamCast hardware (with games like Spawn, Heavy Metal, and Power Stone 2) and then continued (albeit on life-support) on the PlayStation 2 and GameCube hardwares (with Onimusha Blade Warriors and Gotcha Force, respectively).

Even back when they made Spawn, it was said that Capcom looked to create something with elements from first-person shooting games. The game wasn't very successful (in America), but at least they used it to pour the foundation for future arena battle games with an emphasis on firearms and explosives. Anyway, LP is often praised for being innovative, but the ingredients of its strangely alluring mix of features have been seen before. If I'm not mistaken, the roll and weapon systems are from Spawn, Bionic Commando pioneered the hook-shot, and manning war machines (like turrets) was one of Power Stone 2's most distinguishing features. Even the mechs look like something out of Steel Battalion, and more comparisons can be drawn from there. Not to say they didn't put anything unique in the game (the Data Post and T-Energy system are fresh), it's just that LP's most distinguishing features seem to be the most distinguishing features of past Capcom titles. LP attempts to repeat history, but falls short.

The visuals are fresh and unique. Though they are photo-realistic, there are certain attributes of the characters that give them that distinct Japanese look (Luca and Yuri's designs, in particular), and it even borrows the grappling-hook Bionic Commando is known for. With the cool futuristic weapons and other gadgets, it's almost like the game was designed to be a testing ground of sorts for the new Bionic Commando (which has already been announced and shown at the time of this writing). The mechs, however, are clunky (for the most part) and feel less like the sleek machines you see in stuff like Gundam or Zegapain. The exceptions to this are Wayne's mech (which looks mean as hell in its final transformation) and a female boss mech (that actually has a curvaceous flair).

At first glance, the graphics look awesome, with seemingly-boundless, intricately-detailed environments and equally-stunning enemies. Using the same graphics engine as Dead Rising and Devil May Cry 4, they really built on environmental interaction since their older DreamCast arena fighters (like Spawn and Heavy Metal), and there's a lot of stuff to use and/or blow-up. The animation in this game is difficult to gauge, though. At times it gets jerky for unknown reasons, and then it runs normally (yes, even in HD). It's subtle, but it's there, and it's not just limited to character animation; the backgrounds seem to do it a little, too. On a side-note, even with all the guns and explosions, there's no blood or body parts, but characters still show painful reactions to the powerful weapons (some of their death animations are actually sad to watch).

There is a meaty 1-player mode, but 2-16 multi-player is probably considered to be the core of this game, and it's really a mixed-bag. On one hand, it can be really fun with fifteen other players on the battlefield, but then you got a bunch of lazy, bastard-ass, cheating motherfuckers who play in Elimination matches just to team kill with their friends. This alone makes true Elimination matches virtually impossible, limiting multi-player to the cooperative modes. It wasn't a big problem when the game released, but team-killing has grown exponentially, and hasn't gotten any better. Another thing I really don't like is when some random asshole just happens to re-spawn right in front of me and I get helplessly gunned just because he had invincibility. It always happens to me. Granted, the spawn invincibility was put into the game to avoid re-spawn-point camping, but still. Dudes just pop-up out of nowhere and you can't do anything but run your ass off and pray. Re-spawning in general takes too long, and should be quicker; seven seconds may not seem long, but it is when you got a post going down because some motherfucker from the other side was lucky-enough to have spawned by it. As if the multi-player wasn't frustrating-enough already...







The scoring in this game seems a little off, too; in a Post Grab game, I got fourth place and all I did was run off a cliff and run around looking for opposition until I was killed! And it's not just the scoring that's a little off; the collision and calibration are off. In most Capcom games, there's a certain precision and unrivaled amount of control that the player has, and collision and calibration are the same every time you play. LP has none of this. Sometimes you hit your opponent, sometimes you don't; it's just too unpredictable. Experienced players will probably disagree with this, but even at point-blank range I can never seem to definite, clean shots (even with the Shotgun)! Grenade blasts seem random at best, and you can never tell if the blast will make you stumble, duck, flip, or die. There have been point-blank blasts made me stumble, and distant blasts that took my life. What the fuck? It was also disappointing to see that leveling-up ends at 99. Hopefully they break the ceiling in the Colonies upgrade; there really is no good excuse for a level-ceiling (given today's sophisticated game technology). And letting the room host select the stage layout is a little too convenient, if you ask me; it should have been random.

In cannot be denied, however, that the award system in multi-player is a cool idea to reward players for their performance in battle (and that Award Leaderboards are a nice addition). There's a good amount of substance to the multi-player, with a plethora of strategic possibilities there for players to sink their teeth into (environmental factors like crawlspaces and turrets, just to name a few). Familiar characters from the single-player game are opened-up for use in multi-player, and Capcom even used the new technology to make the game open-ended. It's cool how the game is always changing, and they can make updates whenever they want to address balance issues (which has already been done) or add new content (like stages). As of this writing, they have made around eight or so updates (most of which were new battlegrounds), and it's great to see that they can adjust the balance whenever something completely broken is discovered (unlike past Capcom "masterpieces" like SFIII3S).

Not to rain shit on anyone's parade (again), but there are a ton of glitches in the multi-player, and they do affect performance negatively; sometimes, I'll be shooting the hell out of some fool, he suddenly disappears, and when I notice, it's too late because some other asshole already shot (and killed) me because I was too preoccupied shooting at a phantom image of someone who already ran off. Now, this shit happens a little too often, and people take full advantage of it (or any other cheap exploit they can find). LP has about as many glitches as MVSC2; is that why the game is so popular? God, I hope they fix the multi-player in the Colonies upgrade. A few times, I've even seen dudes hovering in the air like Superman! Then you have the unpredictable camera (a real hindrance when it decides to render you helpless in the first-person view). When the camera goes out "on the fritz," you will know what it is like to be truly helpless with nowhere to run. In a word, it's pathetic, and in a phrase, downright ridiculous. It doesn't "plague" the game (as some might describe), but it happens enough to remind you that it exists.

Even with these faults, though, it's still cool being able to meet different people from all over the world and fight beside (or against) them in Post Grab mode. Not to ignore the pricks that make everything miserable as soon as they show up in the room, but it's still fun (for the most part). Everything's all quiet until both teams make it to the posts, and then all hell breaks loose; grenades exploding, bodies flying, emptied shells and carcasses on the floor, people shooting through doors; this game really gets out of control. Taking advantage of next-generation tricks, Capcom put plenty of particle and smoke effects into the explosions to bring the chaos from the battlefield to your face.

Anyone who's played even a little-bit of Lost Planet knows the chaos firsthand, and it's really a blast playing with fifteen other people. Even at the time this article was written, there were still a good number of rooms available for play, and you can meet some pretty entertaining people. Probably the funniest room I've ever been in was this one where everyone in the room was a toughguy, and these guys had all these toughguy names like, "john rambo 1982, ninjachez, MyHouseOfPain, MassHunter BxR, MetroRedrum777." The only guy who didn't have a toughguy name was some dude named "she look good," and I think he got his ass kicked just like I did. Then there was the funny dude with the name "kickingnutz." It was funny not just because his name has to do with kicking nuts, but that he used a goddamn "z" for the last letter! Funny as hell. By far, the most entertaining name I've seen so far.









Capcom could have stopped at what they had with multiplayer, but instead they chose to make an interesting single-player experience so that players could enjoy the game off-line, too. It's interesting because it sheds some light on the background of the characters, and is especially good for honing one's skills to compete better online. The story is similar to that of Red Dead Revolver's, starting out with the typical tale of revenge that reveals a more sinister plot behind the events that are unfolding. Me, personally, I thought that RDR had a better story than LP, but you gradually become attached to Wayne after seeing him done wrong throughout the whole game. The cinematic sequences are pretty good, and the final mech transformation one is so awesome that it completely separates the end from everything you played before it.

Contrary to most Capcom games, control isn't really polished in LP. There's something about it that feels awkward. It's hard to put my finger on it, but it's there. Capcom games are known for their precise, comfortable control, but LP feels awkward and slow. It's doesn't feel as responsive as other Capcom games. Some would probably say it's the HD "control lag" or network lag, but it seems to be the way the game was made. Sure, there are quickturn and roll maneuvers, but somehow the control just doesn't seem cohesive (compared to other Capcom games). Movement is also a lot slower in this game than in other Capcom games. Take, for instance, Red Dead Revolver (which plays similarly but runs a lot quicker). The speed in LP really needs tweaking; it just feels slow, and longtime Capcom fans will notice it. Running in particular seems oddly slow, and could have been a little quicker. For me, control will always be the series' Achilles heel (unless the RE4 viewpoint will make things easier in the Colonies update). Even with its flaws, though, Lost Planet does well on many levels, and offers a lot of fun. And though the multi-player is where Lost Planet really shines, the single-player experience is also pretty good. No doubt that its immediate success out of the gates warranted sequels and/or updates; I just hope that they have easier controls to work with, because what they got now just doesn't cut it.

LP is what you'd expect from a series debut; good concepts, but flawed, with problems that make it hard to enjoy. Despite this, the game has done remarkably well; well-enough to have people coming back for more (even if it isn't a perfect game). Not to say that there's nothing good about the game, it's just that sometimes it seems like the good almost outweighs the bad. Obviously, Capcom did something right (or else the game wouldn't have the fledgling community it has). There are some cool characters and stages, and you can even use mini-guns (so the game already scores big points there), but there are still areas that need tuning. LP has some redeeming qualities, though, which come in the form of blistering mech action, medals scattered throughout each stage, a ton of weapons, and valor awards in multiplayer. It's a bittersweet package that you will love and hate (kind of like that ex-girlfriend that you still have sex with). So, if you're looking for a long, long game that will keep you busy for a long, long time, then this is your game. Balance and other issues mar the multi-player experience to the point of frustration, but you'll still be playing it for a while. That is, of course, until you die from a heart attack...