Lost Planet 3 is a third-person shooter developed by Spark Unlimited and published by Capcom. Unlike the first two games, Capcom decided to hand development on the third iteration of the series to a western developer. This has become somewhat of a trend lately for Capcom, as they recently did this with Devil May Cry and the upcoming Dead Rising 3. The game acts as a prequel to the first two entries and takes place several years before them.
One of the things I noticed pretty early into Lost Planet 3 was the enhanced focus on being a more story driven experience. This is where the game shines. It manages to reach you on an emotional level and tells a very good, deeply riveting story. This is enhanced through video conversations between the main protagonist, Jim Peyton, and his wife, along with several other characters.
The voice acting for these characters is top notch. In fact, the voice acting throughout the game is terrific with the exception of a few minor characters. Soundtrack and sound effects are also impressive. More so for the sound effects, as they really add to the atmosphere and help pull you into the game. I suggest playing this game at night, with lights out for the best experience.
Jim can openly explore vast areas of the games planet, E.D.N. III, which is the same setting as the first two games. With the game taking place several years in the past, the planet is still in an ice age state (rather than its tropical setting of the last game). You can take on side quests, interact with NPC’s, and visit shops for upgrades and purchasing items.
While the game takes on the appearance of a Mass Effect style RPG, it lacks some of the depth from similar games in the genre. Each weapon has one upgrade and there are a small amount of things to be purchased at shops. The side quests are not bad and help to give the game a bit of added girth, but you won’t be missing too much if you decide to skip through these and continue with the main story.
The action in Lost Planet 3 is both a strength and a weakness. In past games you had militarized rigs, which were huge mechs that were loaded to the brim with weapons. In this one, the mechs aren’t militarized yet and only have claws or drills. This is cool because most of the bosses can be fought either inside, or outside your mech. Although, once you have fought a few bosses in your mech, it can become slightly repetitive (you mostly just dodge-counter over and over). This does give players a reason to go back and experience the game a second time. As you can always go back and see what it is like to fight that particular boss in a different way.
The gunplay is serviceable, but could have been better. The shooting mechanics don’t feel as tight as they could have been and guns lack a feeling of power, even though most enemies explode after one or two shots. The roll mechanic is fluid and works well, but doesn’t feel quite as smooth as games with similar mechanics, like Gears of War.
This brings me to the AI, which is fine early in the game, but once you get later in the game, enemies seem to pop in and out if the same cover at random. This leaves you sitting there and waiting for them to pop their heads up. AI isn’t terrible by any means, but certainly could have been a little more intelligent, especially later in the game.
Graphically the game looks pretty amazing. Colors are rich and pop out at you. Especially when bright orange areas of the enemies explode and splatter everywhere. Enemies look great, with fantastic detail. The monsters are unique, well thought out and original.
There were a few small performance issues, such as minor animations that didn’t seem quite right. While this isn’t exactly in line with the graphics, it does effect how the game looks and feels. Lastly, I seemed to get caught inside the environment a couple times, but was always able to free myself. It is worth noting that both of those issues are very minor, and will not impact the overall experience or your enjoyment of the game.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of Lost Planet 3 is the multiplayer side of things. Spark has brought some interesting and fresh elements to the multiplayer experience. You level up by earning credits through various game modes that include your basic deathmatch and objective based co-op games. Each time you purchase an item or perk from the progression sphere, you move on to the next level. This makes for an original feel to an otherwise old idea.
The gem in multiplayer is Akrid Survival mode. This game type mixes both co-op and competitive multiplayer together in one. Players will be on one of two teams, each starting on their own side of the map. You start out by earning points from killing Akrid enemies. Afterwards, the game pits you against the opposite team in some interesting objective games – such as fighting over controlling a point of the map. It works well and is definitely an interesting idea.
Overall, Lost Planet 3 is by far the largest and most ambitious game in the series to date. While it isn’t a masterpiece, the series is clearly heading in the right direction under the guidance of Spark Unlimited. The added focus on story and exploration is definitely welcome. If you are a fan of the series, you should definitely pick this up, as it is far and away the best entry of Lost Planet yet.
Lost Planet 3 looks terrific. Colors are rich and pop out at you. Characters and enemies look great, with fantastic detail. Environments also have a high level of detail, especially sections that take place indoors.
The voice acting for these characters is top notch. Sound effects in the surroundings and during combat really add to the atmosphere, pulling you into the game. The soundtrack is good, if not very memorable.
This is where the game shines. It manages to reach you on an emotional level and tells a very good, deeply riveting story. The characters are well thought out and interesting, which will make you want to speak with them and hear what they have to say.
The action is both a strength and a weakness. The gunplay is serviceable and gets the job done well enough, but could have been better. The roll mechanic is fluid and works well, but doesn’t feel quite as smooth as it could have been. Multiplayer is the real star here, and will keep players coming back to Lost Planet 3 for weeks of akrid-killing fun.
Lost Planet 3 is by far the largest and most ambitious game in the series to date. The series is clearly heading in the right direction under the guidance of Spark Unlimited. The added focus on story and exploration is definitely welcome. The multiplayer is a ton of fun. If you are a fan of Lost Planet, you will definitely want to pick this up.
To hear my final score and more on Lost Planet 3 tune in to the next episode of Frag Tag Radio.