Written by Brock Poulsen, brockst4r Monday, 30 May 2011 05:00
GoozerNation's own Craig Will and I took some time recently to tear through the surprisingly fun Lost Planet 2, currently available for cheap on Goozex.com.
After a brief prologue in snowy regions reminiscent of the series' first entry, the game shifts to jungle and rainforest environments overgrown with vines and trees. Level design is usually extremely linear, which can be restrictive but also serves to focus the action. The grappling hook offers some opportunities for variety in level design, but often it's up to the player to use it creatively to get the drop on enemies. It works similarly to the grappling hook from Just Cause 2, but without quite the range or violence potential.
Jumping into a co-op game works well, largely due to the fact that Lost Planet 2 seems to be built with a focus on multi-player. Unfortunately I'm the world's least reliable co-op partner, so I didn't get as much co-op time as I would've liked. Even when playing single player (which I definitely recommend, only slightly less than co-op) each level feels like it was built for online or split-screen cooperative play (and luckily both are available). Your game doesn't end if you die; your character respawns after a countdown and you can jump right back to the action. Kill streaks are recorded and displayed, letting you get some bragging rights over your co-op buddies even in the campaign. Levels are short and objective-focused, again drawing the comparison to online multiplayer.
Your AI teammates are passable at best, so it's a good idea to bring a friend, but they do offer at least some support. The AI teammates also have the unique use of "tweaking" the game's difficulty if you're having trouble on a particular section. You can choose between zero and three computer-controlled teammates, and they can at least draw some enemy fire, allowing the player a little breathing room.
The difficulty overall feels well balanced. I never felt like deaths were cheap or due to anything other than my own ineptitude. Fights against the giant (seriously: HUGE) bosses are challenging and a lot of fun, with clear strategies to employ.
The controls are smooth, whether on foot or in a "VS" or "Vital Suit" (basically a mech). There's no option to aim down the sights of your weapon (even with the sniper rifle), but I found I didn't often miss it. The gameplay is fast and intense, so it lends itself well to the spray-and-pray method. The on-foot weapons are relatively standard; the machine gun, shotgun, rifle, and rocket launcher are all present. The shotgun is by far my favorite, and the main reason I don't miss aiming down the sights; it's convincingly powerful and shreds enemies quickly at medium-to-close range.
When you add in that the weapons can be removed from stationary VSs and carried on foot, it becomes a unique arsenal. There is a VS version of the machine gun that is basically a chain gun, and can't be fired while moving by your on-foot character. There are also removable VS rocket launchers (!) and a VS shotgun (!!) that offer giant, more destructive versions of their smaller counterparts. The game succeeds at making you feel powerful and letting you do some seriously awesome things; using the grappling hook to launch yourself onto a ledge and then shotgun the enemy while in midair is excellent. Shooting your own grenades out of midair, causing a much bigger explosion and much more damage is just outstanding. "Kill Big" is the tagline on the back of the box, and it means it.
I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed Lost Planet 2. I was expecting a generic third-person shooter, but what it delivers is something bigger and more impressive. The action is tight and intense, and made even better with a few friends along for the ride. I really can't say enough positive about this game; it's an enormously enjoyable experience.