When Lost Planet 3 was originally announced, my natural reaction was to write it off. I don't think much of the first two Lost Planet games. They have their fans for sure and they have a completely unique feel that makes them different from everything else out there but I just could never get into them, which is strange considering I do like the concept of killing massive creatures to collect their orange goo.
However, when I saw that Lost Planet 3 was not going to be developed by Capcom themselves, instead outsourcing development to Spark Unlimited -- the fine folks that brought us stinkers like Turning Point: Fall of Liberty and Legendary -- that was the moment when my interest piqued. I thought it was weird enough to make another Lost Planet after the second game being so polarising but then letting Spark Unlimited make it... that's just crazy. Unfortunately though, Lost Planet 3 isn't crazy at all. It is a completely competent third-person shooter but it is rarely much more than that.
Lost Planet 3 tells the tale of Jim Peyton, a bearded bloke who decides to become a miner to help provide for his wife and child but obviously things aren't as simple as they seem, and Jim has to put down many monsters in order for him and his comrades to survive. Nothing about the story is going to blow you away but I will give the developers credit for creating an engaging tale with good writing and acting. Unlike a lot of other sci-fi stories, Lost Planet 3 doesn't get too wrapped up in the usual cliches involving evil corporations or religious nonsense. There is some of that but Lost Planet 3 instead focuses on the characters, who are interesting and thanks to the script, are fun to see interacting with each other. However, Jim himself is a bit too plain. He pretty much just acts like a generic good guy protagonists who is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his family. There is also an awful engineer character who is far too plucky for his own good. Aside from these things, the plot develops in interesting ways and I think the ending doesn't take the easy route and lead into the first Lost Planet.
Indeed, the story serves as a prequel to the first two Lost Planet games so E.D.N. III (that's the Lost Planet) is in a snowy state like the first game, rather than the more remote tropical climate that was offered in the second game. The fact the game is a prequel should make it easy for anyone to enjoy, though Lost Planet fans might get a kick out of seeing how certain types of technology.
I am surprised how good the story is in Lost Planet 3. It's not massively original or anything but it is just a nicely told story that I found engaging from start to finish.
The gameplay in Lost Planet 3 mostly a standard third-person shooter. At a glance, it may look a bit like the old Lost Planet games but the new game doesn't really feel like them at all. Lost Planet 3 plays a lot like Gears of War or something instead, which is to say it doesn't feel particularly unique anymore. Even the grappling hook isn't used very often, you only use it to get up certain ledges. This all doesn't bother me too much because I could never get into the other Lost Planet games but it may alienate established fans.
So for me, Lost Planet 3 plays much better than the older games. The combat feels snappy and satisfying. All of the weapons have a good feel, particularly the shotgun, which I carried with me throughout the entire game. For the first few hours, I had a good time blasting away different types of Akrid creatures but after a while, repetition began to sink in.
Lost Planet 3 really needs more weapon and enemy variety. It felt like there only were about 3 weapons as I used the pistol, the assault rifle and the shotgun throughout most of the game. Other weapons like the crossbow and the hunting rifle seemed good but inappropriate against these creatures who mostly try to get close to you. I don't think the aliens are that great either. The creature design isn't particularly cool or memorable and you will be fighting the same handful of enemy types throughout the entire game. You will fight some larger forms of Akrid but these battles aren't especially thrilling as all you need to do is roll away from the enemy's attack and then blast away at the orange glowy bit. So while the core combat in Lost Planet 3 is actually quite good, the lack of combat variety makes the game fairly boring to play.
Lost Planet 3 tries to break up the action a bit by having sections where you are exploring E.D.N. III in your Rig, which is basically a big Mech robot. When you first hop into your Rig, you will be in awe discovering the excellently realised landscape from a first-person perspective. The game has a lot of atmosphere, stomping around feels cool and you can even listen to some country tunes while you are driving. On the PC version, you are able to put on your own music from your hard drive, which is a nice touch though, the feature seemed to stop working after five minutes and I had go back to the stock country tracks that come with the game.
Unfortunately though, much like the combat, travelling around in your Rig turns into a drag after a while. Getting around in the Rig feels like it takes ages due to its slow speed and it ultimately feels like padding to make the game longer. Thankfully, a quick travel option is introduced a few hours into the game but even then, you are still going to have to utilise your Rig quite a bit.
Some combat does take place when you are in your Rig. The Mech-like robot has access to a drill and a claw arm, both of which are often used in tandem to cut up some horrible monsters. You will rarely use the Rig to kill smaller creatures, instead you will use to battle big behemoths. That sounds awesome but these battles feel like quick time events, as you have to perform quick button prompts in order to do any damage. The Rig combat looks great as it's happening but actually playing it isn't much fun at all.
Lost Planet 3 is a sizeable game taking about 10 hours to play through. There is actually quite a lot of side missions which you could do but I thought playing through the main story was repetitive enough on its own, I didn't want to spend extra time earning Thermal Energy (or TENG) as I already had loads of it. That's actually a big change from the previous Lost Planet games. You no longer need to pick up the warm alien goo to stay alive. Instead, that alien goo is used as currency for weapons and upgrades. The lack of weapons or interesting upgrades makes doing side missions feel like needless busy work.
When you are done with the campaign, you can jump into the multiplayer but when playing on the PC, you are immediately hit with something disgusting when you try to do so. I have one word for you: GameSpy. This game uses GameSpy. In 2013. I can't fathom why. There are some other bizarre decisions relating to the PC version of this game. This is one of those games where everyone microphone is on at all times, meaning you are likely to hear a lot of loud bollocks while trying to play, which is never good.
Something else that is rather odd is the default key configuration. Most of it is rather standard, WASD to move around and all that but the game uses the P button for anytime you want to pick up something. The P button. That's on the otherside of the keyboard! There are other awful default key choices too and what makes things worse, is that it is really hard to rebind the keys yourself. You could probably change the .ini file to get the keys working to your liking but seriously, whoever worked on the default control scheme for the PC version, shame on you. Slap yourself.
The actual multiplayer offerings here are awfully standard. There is Team Deathmatch and an array of standard Objective game types. Some of the objectives are somewhat novel. One might have a team defend a massive drill, while the other team needs to blow up that drill to stop it from breaking into their base. There is another type of Objective where a massive Akrid enemy spawns and the two teams to help each other to take it out but once the Akrid is down, there is a sample of DNA that the two teams need to fight over.
There is even a seperate mode that builds upon this sort of mode called Akrid Survival, which sounds like a horde mode, which it is but only for the first few stages. There are two teams but they are on different parts of the map, killing their own Akrid. Then on the final stages, the two player teams come together to take over the middle section of the map.
After finishing each match, you will earn credits which you can use to purchase weapons, upgrades, skills and deployables. While the things you are unlocking are not particularly exciting, the way you unlock things is. The unlock tree is in a spherical form and each hexagon on the sphere is an unlock. You can branch out in any direction from the middle and as a result, you feel like you are in control of your player progression.
Lost Planet 3 multiplayer definitely has some good ideas but the problem is that it just isn't fun to play. The PC version seems to be plagued by a lot of lag issues but even when things are running smoothly, the combat just isn't satisfying. Enemies take quite a lot damage before they die and if it wasn't for the damage numbers popping up, I wouldn't think I was doing any damage at all. So while Lost Planet 3 does have some cool modes and hooks to keep people playing, the core action doesn't hold up its end of the bargain.
The graphics in Lost Planet 3 are great. As mentioned, the environments look really sharp with good textures and beautiful lighting effects. The creatures and characters look the part too and seeing monsters explode into an orange mess just doesn't get old. It doesn't look nearly as good as many other PC games but the graphics still get the job done nicely and I will give the developers credit for making the game well optimised.
The sound effects used throughout are also very good. All of the weapons throughout all sound rather punchy and all of the enemies make horrible screechy noises that deliberately get under your skin. The voice acting is great, particularly for Jim himself and his boss Braddock. There is a horrible French stereotype character in there but thankfully, he isn't in the game too much. The music is also nicely done, using pumping electronic tracks when the action is kicking off and using horror style stings during more quiet moments.
Lost Planet 3 is a weird game to review. It's my favourite Lost Planet game, but that isn't saying much. It's my favourite Spark Unlimited game, but that isn't saying very much. It is a decent third-person shooter, but there are loads of better ones out there. It is definitely a fun game for a while as the combat is satisfying and the environment looks fantastic. But after a few hours, you realise Lost Planet 3 doesn't have many other tricks up its sleeve and the experience becomes rather monotonous. I wouldn't pay full price for it but action fans might want to check it out at some point.
THREE OUT OF FIVE
(A balanced game that has a mixture of strengths and weaknesses, meaning that it alternates between being good and bad in mostly equal measure.)