After spending some quality time with the Lost Planet spinoff at Sony's booth, the PlayStation 3 version of E.X. Troopers, I can easily say it's the Lost Planet game I'm currently looking forward to the most. Sadly, due to the distinctly Japanese visual presentation, and the western-centric nature of Lost Planet 3, fans in the US may never get a chance to play E.X. Troopers, which if you ask me, is a damn shame.
At it's core, the gameplay is what we've come to expect from Lost Planet: third-person action focused on dispatching enemies (akrids) with vulnerable, orange, body-parts, in snowy environments. The anime inspired cel-shading immediately distinguishes E.X. Troopers from the rest of the series, going so far as rendering sound-effect-graphics, similar to those found in comics, or in this case, manga, during cutscenes.
The heavy use of vibrant hues is more typical of an episode of Naruto than a Lost Planet follow-up, which to be fair, may not sit well with fans of the first two games. It's likely that most people who aren't purveyors of Japanese animation might view the game's visual design as childish, but where Lost Planet 3 borders on gruff, E.X. Troopers shines like an adorable diamond in the frozen rough. You turn into an authentic, three-tiered snowman, when frozen, after all.
During the 15 minutes I spent with the game, the pacing of combat immediately stood out as brisk compared to the series' relatively-plodding pace. The main character has the ability to dash around the battlefield with his handy jet-pack. Firing your weapon mid-dash will prolong the character's momentum for a few seconds after the boosters disengage. It's a minor detail in the grand-scheme of the game, but it's different enough that it stands out as a defining element.
The main character is equipped with two modes of attack: a rapid-firing assault rifle and a heavy weapon, which can best be described as a charged ball of energy. Though ammo is technically unlimited, each weapon has a cool-down period after expending your allotted munitions. Typically, expending your light rounds and following up with a heavy shot was enough to eliminate common foes. Dashing to a new vantage point provides just enough time to recharge and continue dishing out a stream of bullets.
In all, anyone whose played the two previous Lost Planet games will no doubt see parallel elements in E.X. Troopers' gameplay, despite the minor differences. It's these minor alterations however that I found the most refreshing. The speed of combat and the bright visuals stand out, giving E.X. Troopers a light-hearted theme that, despite it's admittedly eastern aesthetic, has enough personality to elicit a smile from the most-hardened shooter fans among us. Capcom has registered a trademark for E.X Troopers in the west, so it's possible we may see the game outside of Japan, but if recent comments from Christian Svensson are to be believed, there aren't any plans for a worldwide release at the moment.