Preview: Lost Planet 3: Will A Stronger Story Make A Better Game?
I’ve been waiting to get my hands on Lost Planet 3 for some time now, having played the second installment enough times to wonder if my love/hate relationship with the game was ever healthy. So when I got a chance to sit down with Capcom recently and try out an early level in Spark Unlimited’s Lost Planet 3, I was ecstatic to see where the third title’s development had taken the series. I’m not quite sure what to make of the changes since I only sampled a small taste, but I can say this for certain: the story is miles ahead of its predecessor, something that may make Lost Planet 3 far easier to connect to.
Lost Planet 3 takes place years and years before either of the prior Lost Planet games, and stars Jim Peyton, a Utility Rig pilot who left Earth to take on contract work on E.D.N. III, the dangerous planet where the series’ action takes place. E.D.N. III is the host of Thermal Energy, a lucrative energy source that could save Earth from its present energy crisis. But there’s something far more dangerous about E.D.N. III and the planet’s indigenous Akrid creatures that threaten the merchant contractors, and that’s Peyton’s employers, the Neo-Venus Construction corporation, better known as NEVEC. Peyton’s entire crew seems to have a bittersweet relationship with the corporation–the most mild reaction being passive indifference, the worse being outright suspicion of conspiracy.
Unlike Lost Planet 2, you’ll find no masked characters in Peyton’s crew. Everyone has a face, a personality, and a reason for being on E.D.N. III. Unfortunately, my time on the game didn’t give any indication of whether these characters will be fleshed out further on in the game, but there definitely is an emphasis on an actual story than the hodge-podge of scenes and ideas that made up Lost Planet 2‘s plot.
Of what I played, which took place at the beginning of the game, the controls felt natural enough for a third person shooter, especially when confronted with the Sepia Akrid creatures, early enemies that look a lot like evil walking plants. Most of the demo consisted of shooting down a few waves of Sepias while assisting my crew with getting our vehicle through an icy cavern, which was neither exciting nor horrible, and reminded me much of the early levels of Lost Planet 2. But it was nice to see an emphasis on the characters, their dialogue, and their interactions, something that was only vaguely present between the nameless soldiers who drove the story of the last installment.
Also, earlier buzz that the game would lean closer to a survival horror slant seems a little off-base: according to both the Capcom representative I sat with and my time playing the game, the horror aspect is minimal, and still very much a monster-hunting shooter. So for anyone worried or excited about Lost Planet 3 taking a traditional Resident Evil approach, you may want to ignore the thought.
My lasting impression of the demo was a positive one: the direction of Lost Planet 3 proves they took in the various criticisms put against the last game, and are actively trying to make the franchise more relatable for fans of character development and personality. Whether the gameplay has also evolved remains to be seen (especially the transition from the anime-like VS mechs of Lost Planet 2 to the more grounded Hawken approach with Lost Planet 3‘s utility rigs), but with more details coming soon (especially on the multiplayer mode) I’m remaining hopeful.
Here’s hoping they’ve upgraded the grappling hook.
Lost Planet 3 is set to release to the PS3, PC, and Xbox 360 on August 27th. You can also check out all of our Lost Planet coverage here.