Like most of Lost Planet's visual aspects, the cutscenes look great and convey a great deal of action-movie gusto. Unfortunately, they don't tell much of a tale. The original Lost Planet was not big in the story department, but it still made the attempt, and at least you got to know a few of its leading players. Lost Planet 2 doesn't even try. Its characters are nameless and have no discernable personality. A group of speeder-piloting bandits are apparently meant to inject a bit of humor, but they come across as embarrassing racial stereotypes. Without any character development, proper story exposition, or a better antagonist than a faceless corporation you know little about, there's no reason to care about the fate of this attractive world.
Competitive multiplayer is another reason to visit this planet. There are a robust number of modes here, along with an intriguing and occasionally silly system of persistent rewards meant to keep you invested. Many of the modes are shooter standards: Elimination, Team Elimination, and variants on two-flag Capture the Flag and Conquest, called Akrid Egg Battle and Data Post Battle, respectively. Fugitive mode has returned as well and pits a small team of lightly armed fugitives avoiding capture against a fully equipped team of hunters. Some modes come in several variants as well. For example, Team Elimination victory conditions can be customized so that the first team to use up a set number of respawns loses, or the victory might go to the team with the highest point total. These modes can be further customized by the host in a number of ways, from setting the default weapon types, to setting the number of mech suits on the map. Some of the mechanical drawbacks of the campaign are still an annoyance. For example, getting hit in the midst of throwing a grenade interrupts your toss. But the vertically designed maps and cool mechanical monstrosities can lead to some enjoyable shoot-outs.
Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of people playing online, which is a shame, since the game features a persistent mode in which five factions fight it out for control of a larger world map, a la Chromehounds and EndWar. The game also offers a problematic but intriguing system of persistent rewards to keep you invested. The crux of this system is the points you earn while playing, which in turn can be spent on a chance to earn something useful at the game's slot machine. Rewards include new weapons you can add to your default loadout, passive bonuses to equip, and new parts for customizing your character. They also include emotes and titles, called "noms de guerre." It's an intriguing system, but over time it lends itself to disappointment. Unlocking a new shotgun for multiplayer matches is cool, but most of the time, you're getting a new nom de guerre or an emote. So now you can run around with the words "lookin' for love" floating over your head and perform a new kind of fist pump. Customizing your weapons and appearance is great, but the more useless rewards make this system feel unnecessarily padded.
In spite of its occasional awkwardness, Lost Planet 2 is a worthy offering for shooter fans who enjoy the awe-inspiring sight of a colossal creature towering above them. It's good to see this game's better elements getting their fair dues, even if some of the other core issues weren't so readily repaired. The gameplay oddities and small online population keep this celestial object from shining too brightly, but if you're interested in shooting big bugs on a resplendent sci-fi world, or just want to show your friends what your fancy new video card is capable of, then Lost Planet 2 is an entertaining way to pass the hours.