Capcom has finally revealed what it calls its "worst-kept secret" with the official announcement of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Colonies Edition. Although the Internet has buzzed with theories relating to Colonies for quite some time, we can now say for certain what the game will and will not entail. Most importantly, Colonies is an enhanced remake of the original Lost Planet, not a sequel. That may sound disappointing to some, but Capcom has added quite a few new features to accompany the drop to $29.95.
The bulk of the work appears to have been focused on the game's multiplayer aspect. Colonies includes six new multiplayer modes. The new mode we got a chance to try is called Akrid Hunter. This one's got a David and Goliath-style premise in which a random minority of players is turned into akrids for the duration of the match. Exactly which style of giant snow insect you become is entirely up to chance, though there are five possibilities, all taken from the single-player campaign. In our match of six players, two became akrids. One was a giant, scorpion-looking insect with fairly good speed (though not as good as normal players) and tremendous jumping ability. The other was more of a potato beetle that wasn't quite as nimble but definitely packed a punch.
The random element added a lot of excitement to the match. Though we didn't get to play as the akrid, it certainly looked as if those who did had a good time wreaking havoc with their newfound size and strength. However, that's also where one of the potential problems came into play. It was fun to team up and go after the pair of akrid--trying to aim for their glowing weak points in spite of the chaos all over the screen was quite a rush--but it felt a bit like shooting a brick wall. The akrid easily dominated the match. We're not sure whether that's an issue with the balance or just us being too rusty with Lost Planet's multiplayer, but it will be interesting to see how Capcom tweaks the akrids' destructive abilities.
The rest of the multiplayer additions include modes called VS Annihilator, CounterGrab, Point Snatcher, Akrid Egg Battle, and Egg Bandit. To give you an idea of what these new modes promise to offer, VS Annihilator forces you to go after the opposing team's Vital Suit while making sure nothing happens to your own. CounterGrab has you activating data posts, with the winner being determined by whoever holds the highest total activation time before the clock expires. Point Snatcher is a pretty basic free-for-all in which the winner is the one who collects the most energy from downed opponents. Akrid Egg Battle and Egg Bandit are similar modes (as you might guess by the name); in the former, you win by snatching the greater number eggs from the opposing team, and in the latter, you win by holding their egg for the longest amount of time.
Spicing up these added multiplayer modes are new maps, weapons, and players. Among the four new maps, the two that appear most interesting are an abandoned city with expansive streets ripe for sniping and a space ship with zero gravity. The new weapons should offer increased opportunity for mayhem with a flame launcher for humans and a laser lance for the VS suit, among many others. Finally, the number of players to choose from will now rise to 11 with a pair of female characters and a pair of robots.
Fans of the single-player experience won't be excluded from the list of enhancements because three new modes have been added to the campaign. Score Attack adds an old-school arcade element to the story in that everything that can and should be blasted (enemies and the occasional destructible object) has a point value. The more you destroy, the more points you gain. Trial Battle distills the campaign into a series of sequential boss battles. The third, Off Limit, basically saves you the trouble of entering cheat codes by powering up your weapons and foot speed to make the game fly by. Though none of these single-player modes appear to add quite as much variety as the new online options, they're certainly welcome companions to the multiplayer features.
One very important item to note is that this version of the game will not be backward compatible with the original Lost Planet. From a data perspective, Colonies won't be able to recognize your original saved games, and it won't reflect your previous player ranking. Another restriction is that the two games won't recognize one another online. If you own the new version and your friend owns the original, you can't play in multiplayer matches. Of course, the addition of cross-platform play in Colonies (Xbox 360 and PC owners can all battle together online) does help expand the now-limited pool of players.
Overall, it looks as if Capcom has gone the extra mile to make sure this is a step above the usual greatest-hits entry. We had a good time with our experience testing out Akrid Hunter mode, and we're eager to see how the other additions pan out. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Colonies Edition is slated to arrive on May 27 at the reduced price of $29.95.