PS3 Fanboy review: Lost Planet: Extreme Condition



Before gamers got the chance to play Lost Planet: Extreme Condition on the PS3, they had the option of picking it up for either the Xbox 360 or the PC. Being a port of a year old Xbox 360 game, the PS3 version of Lost Planet had been under the skeptical eyes of patient PlayStation fans awaiting to see if the game was going to be better or worse than the original exclusive. The long-short of it, sadly, the game plays far worse on the PS3.

Despite all its advantages, such as receiving all bonus downloadable content from both PC and 360 versions, getting its own exclusive: Luka as a playable character, and a budget release price, there are some severe problems that weigh the game down. Also, the five gig mandatory install does little in defense of the PS3 version, even though the load times have drastically been sped up. For what it's worth, Lost Planet was a decent game the first time around, but this PS3 port ... not so much.

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The setting for Lost Planet takes place on a frozen alien planet called E.D.N. III. The planet, despite being a subzero wasteland unsuitable for human life, has been inhabited by people in an attempt to populate and colonize. The problem with this is that the planet's native creatures, the Akrid, are a menacing hostile bunch that clearly wants to destroy their new neighbors. The main character, Wayne Holden, struggles to defeat these creatures; at the same time, he fights off snow pirates and a mysterious organization known as NEVEC.

While Lost Planet plays around with many great ideas in terms of plot, its execution and presentation of its narrative and of its characters is something that feels contrived and awkward. The story pacing is too quick, often only showing us quick snippets of the game's characters interacting with one another; hence, the portrayal of their relationships and motives are hindered. Seeing these characters through momentary trysts in a story that spans a couple years makes it very difficult to care for or develop a deep understanding of these characters and their story -- simply because it isn't there. The writing could've used some touch ups, especially when overly melodramatic, squint-eyed, one-word sentences are frequently used to reveal a foreboding ominous presence.

Despite the horrible execution of an otherwise intriguing plot, Lost Planet at least implements its battle system as a well-done, practical tie-in with the game's story. Since the world is extremely cold, Wayne needs to collect thermal energy to keep him warm, and therefore alive. The inclusion of thermal energy puts a satisfying amount of pressure on a player as it acts as a "time limit" for missions; if you run out of thermal energy, Wayne's life will slowly deplete ending in a game over. This adds a different air of strategy to an otherwise familiar third-person shooter experience.



Wayne's grappling hook is a nice little feature which lets him get to higher ground that he can't normally get to by jumping. However, there is a slight problem with this. Players are going to use the grappling hook to ascend to higher ground, but one major flaw that was never addressed in previous games, and disappointingly in the PS3 version as well, is that you can never look straight up. This means that aiming for a sweet spot to latch on to becomes an annoyance because you must move around and find the right position -- often finding out that you've gone too far away and out of reach, or too close that you can't hit a high enough mark to properly land on the platform above. This is also a nuisance for aiming as well since flying enemies and colossal sized Akrid require an upward aiming scheme.

The game allows you to carry up to two gun-type weapons and one grenade-type weapon at any given time. While this may seem to be a loss of weapon choices, it really makes combat more strategic as it forces you to plan out your equipment. Another combat element, the "vital suits" (aka VS) are mecha inventions used to combat the Akrid; Wayne can pilot these hunks of metal, and they really do a great job at changing the combat atmosphere.

However, where there is praise, there is criticism. One problem that leaves the battle system feeling broken is that recuperating from an attack takes too long. For example, if you're knocked to the ground by a rocket, then chances are that a follow up rocket (and possibly successive ones after that) will surely hit you; this is particularly frustrating in VS battles as many enemies will fire multiple rounds of heavy-damage shots; get hit by one, then you can kiss your life points good-bye.



Even worse than this, the PS3 version suffers from abhorrent framerate issues. These problems are most notable in areas with a large number of enemies, and in critical boss fights. This problem can make a huge difference in gameplay if you factor in the issues in the previous paragraph. Cut scenes are sometimes affected by framerate issues, but for the most part they're actually quite good. They look gorgeous too. Graphically, the PS3 and 360 versions generally look identical; however, the PS3 version's particle effects for smoke and explosions look like flat walls rather than cloud-like formations.

The mission levels are well-designed and make good use of the different gameplay elements: VS, grappling hook, etc. Most missions have different environments and unique objectives, though some areas are reused and slightly tweaked to "look new". One nice thing is that some huge boss-like Akrid can be skipped over if you're in the mood to just move on. There's always the option to replay a mission in case you want to go back and defeat these optional foes. Only problem is that these missions are very short, usually ending anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. Also, there are only eleven missions in all which, like the story, is in need of a little more meat packed in to help flesh out the experience.



As for the online mode, we unfortunately could not get connected online with our review copy; instead, the following impression is of the online multi-player demo available now on the PSN. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong other than a slight, miniscule lag. After several games, we did notice a persevering problem with the framerate that is comparatively as bad as the regular in-game issue.

All in all, the PS3 version of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition had the chance to redeem itself and rectify some of the issues that plagued the game originally. Unfortunately, it didn't address its problems, but only made things worse. If there was one line in the game that sums up the feeling of playing this iteration of Lost Planet, it would be a line from a character named Isenberg. He said at one point, "I grow tired of this game," and we couldn't help but think the same.

PS3 Fanboy score: 6.0

This article was originally published on Joystiq.