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Published: Thursday, 6/10/2010

Game review: Lost Planet 2 ***

BY TOM FISHER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Playing Lost Planet 2 from Capcom is a little like riding on a roller coaster. There are ups and downs, and you may find yourself wanting to both laugh and cry at the same time. The only problem is that the emotional extremes of an amusement park ride are there by design. So let's jump to the head of the line and strap ourselves in for the thrilling letdown that is Lost Planet 2.

First, a little background.

The first Lost Planet centers around a planet called E.D.N. III. The core of this planet is filled with something known as Thermal Energy, or T-Eng. This stuff has a heap of cool properties, not the least of which are some amazing healing powers. Mankind wants to colonize the planet and harness that power for what I can only assume are not-too-pleasant exploits.

E.D.N. III is mostly-frozen tundra inhabited by creatures called the Akrid. Sounds a little like arachnid, and in fact they now resemble spiders or scorpions after a nuclear disaster left them gigantic, deformed, and with a generally bad attitude.

Lost Planet 2 takes place nearly a decade in the future with the colonies engulfed in a civil war. The Akrid are still a menace, and so are the enemy colonists and bands of pirates. The planet is warming and unveiling new environments, and the populace has turned to chaos. You can either help straighten it out or take advantage of the confusion.

Now let's start the ride.

Graphically, the game is stunning. Every rendering is spot-on and the movement of the characters, foliage, and fabric is extremely fluid and more lifelike than most games that try to achieve the same effect. The cinematics also are impressive. The downside is, there's too much. Some of the coolest things take place in the animations, and you feel a little disappointed when the actual gameplay doesn't measure up.

You can play solo or with up to four players on the same screen. You can also team up with friends and strangers online. It makes for an awesome experience with more than one player and is designed for multiple players.

But this sets up a problem for the solo player. The other AI characters on your team are not very smart. They tend to follow you around and do what you do. In many cases the asset of a living, thinking mind controlling the other teammate is necessary to complete the mission as there may be more than one prerogative and teams can split up. Not a great platform for the soloist as you generally have to do everything.

As a third-person-shooter the game has a lot of depth. You can customize weaponry and team members, and even create your own soldier. The planet is nearly boundless and doesn't feel like you're in a holodeck. You have some freedom of movement. The weaponry is immense, with mechanical suits similar to the movie Avatar called Vital Suits, plus machine guns, shotguns, land mines, and plasma grenades. The combat can be intense, whether you are taking on human enemies or the Akrid. There's certainly no lacking in the action. In fact sometimes it can seem a bit too difficult.

The downside is there is no real story, no character arcs or plot points. You end up with a game that has some great action and awesome graphics in a world that only makes you want to explore it some more, but without a real storyline I don't care about that world. Should it be destroyed, abandoned, colonized? Is my character important to the story? What is the lofty goal of harnessing this Thermal Energy? Capcom has created a wonderful world; now I just need a reason to care about what happens to it and the people living there.

So, if you're looking for a good solo ride this summer you may want to stick to Cedar Point. But if you are looking for a place to meet up with your friends and gun it out in some intense online play, you can find your thrills all summer long in Lost Planet 2.

Contact Tom Fisher at: tfisher@theblade.com

or 419-724-6523.



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