E3 2006: Lost Planet Xbox 360 Impressions

Lost Planet isn’t meant to try anything different. Outside of its unbelievably beautiful exterior lies a standard 3rd person shooter involving oddball life forms, mechs, and plenty of fire… lots of fire.

What’s immediately apparent about Lost Planet is its style. The blinding snow comes in sharp contrast to the eerie black aliens. The heavy dusting of falling precipitation makes seeing across the vast landscapes difficult, and you begin hoping for some indoor action. Of course, Lost Planet provides. When under a roof, you’re generally confined to a tightly enclose space with countless enemies spawning from pulsating pods that need to be destroyed.

If you’re not dealing with pod creatures, you’re fending off humans. Instead of using sharp claws to dismantle the player, they’ll use a variety of weapons all available to the player. If a rocket launcher isn’t enough to satisfy you, then the mechs walking around the levels can be commandeered for your own purposes.

Yes, all of this does sound familiar. You’re probably going to cringe when you hear about the explosive barrels littered about (though they’re thankfully not red). It hits a number of clichés, and the re-spawning pods are a real annoyance. Given the massive amount of enemies on screen (with no frame rate dips), they almost seem unnecessary and slow the action down. This is nearly a positive with the brutal difficulty provided by the two level demo, forcing the player to take things slow even though the big guns lend it a major Hollywood action feel.

Adding to that are the graphics, which are the obvious selling point. When challenged by a number of rolling monsters, the motion blur effect makes this easy to pass off as a big budget summer sci-fi extravaganza. Additional subtle effects including blowing snow pouring from these critters when they move, and stunning lighting. The explosions themselves deserve an entire paragraph, easily the best looking you’ll see on the 360 to date.

Don’t underestimate Lost Planet’s gameplay though either. There are some nice features to separate its blasting-focused action. A unique health system is in place that has reserved energy. By picking up orange power-ups, you’ll add to those reserves. They’ll kick in when you’re hit, though if you lose all your health, it’s game over.

The reserves are always ticking down though, even when you’re life meter is full. This leads to an extra layer of combat and a frantic rush for health when low. The lead character is also given a grappling hook to reach otherwise unattainable areas, and while the demo doesn’t seem to have any secret areas, there’s little doubt this mechanic will play a role in getting to them in the full game.

Lost Planet is shaping up to be one of a rare breed these days. It instantly feels satisfying, the controls feel natural, and the graphical presence is almost overpowering. It remains to be seen whether or not the game can keep this intensity throughout (especially with the re-spawning), but the basics are firmly in place. Here’s hoping certain other Xbox 360 action games don’t overshadow this promising gem from Capcom.

Comments (1)

I played the demo for a while. Looks like a cool game. Inafune is also making Dead Rising, which is another promising title. Let's hope they come out well and sell well.

Capcom should keep making games for the 360.

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