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Review

Lost Planet 3 Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: August 27, 2013
  • X360

Lost Planet 3 is both less exasperating and less diverse than its predecessors.

In the third iteration of the Lost Planet series, some things are gained, and some are, appropriately enough, lost. Lost Planet 2 was a frustrating and beautiful concoction, loaded with grand ideas that all too often sacrificed basic playability. In this mediocre prequel to the original Lost Planet, the frustrations are minimal, but so are the ideas; its predecessor's variety and visual panache are steamrolled in favor of perfectly decent, perfectly standard shooting encounters. Lost Planet 3 is a difficult game to hate and an equally difficult game to adore. It might feature monstrous aliens, but it never thinks big.

One aspect of this third-person shooter that will keep you thinking, however, is its story, a surprise given the series' lack of a personal touch and grand plot ambitions. The early hours move slowly, introducing you to hero Jim Peyton, who has journeyed across the blackness of space to the planet E.D.N. III to assist the Neo-Venus Construction company in its mining efforts. Jim is an excellent everyman, frequently exchanging personal video messages with his devoted wife, who is raising their newborn son while Jim works toward a brighter financial future. The couple labor to maintain a tone of normalcy, but never fully contain their misgivings and personal longing. The dialogue is natural and delivered gracefully; Jim's love is not characterized by overwhelming passion, but by quiet adoration and sincere concern.

While performing odd jobs and fighting off the wildlife that threatens the mining operation, Jim spots a figure eyeing him in the distance. Jim's paranoia turns to confusion as he uncovers truths about NEVEC and the indiscretions of the company's past. Here, the tale begins to follow recognizable paths, invoking elements of stories like Pocahontas and James Cameron's Avatar by contrasting the greed of the invader with the purity of the land. But it's how Lost Planet 3 subverts cliches that makes it so compelling. In fiction, lines like "I didn't know you had a wife" often lead to predictable story outcomes--but not here. Lost Planet 3 avoids overt moralizing and soap-opera melodrama, instead placing ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and allowing them to find their way.

On E.D.N. III, it's best not to anger the wildlife.

That isn't to say there aren't sour notes. A miner with a deplorable French accent tops that list, though an annoyingly chatty engineer can also grate on your nerves. Both ultimately earn a vital place in the story, though not before injuring your sense of good taste with their cliched characterizations. The game's tone wanders, sometimes shooting for "space cowboy" a la StarCraft or Firefly, and other times getting jokey, going so far as to point out its own mechanical shortcomings. A little lighthearted humor is appreciated, but when it's a bit of dialogue pointing out how often you have to turn on an elevator's power, you can't help but wish developer Spark Unlimited had avoided repetitive mission design rather than cracked wise about it.

That repetition is a problem. Many of Lost Planet 3's missions have you heading out into E.D.N. III's icy wilderness to perform odd jobs for NEVEC or other allies, flipping switches, riding elevators, and shooting some aliens in a comfortable but overfamiliar pattern. Like in the previous games, your primary foes are the akrid, aliens primarily known for their insectlike appearance and the glowing orange growths that indicate weak points. Previously, fighting the largest of these creatures could be both a stunning and frustrating affair, with their outlandish attacks sending you flying through the air and into drifts of snow, where you had to struggle to your feet and resume battle. Combat arenas were often large and gave you the opportunity to pilot combat mechs, and giant akrid forced you to use your wits when you weren't busy cursing the frustrations of irritating knockbacks.

Jim is more than just another bearded video game hero.

In Lost Planet 3, the distress and the diversity have both been toned down. You face some large akrid, but you do so without worry of being bowled over by numerous enemies and paralyzed by endless animation loops. Yet with greater playability also comes greater predictability. Regardless of the monster you face, the tactic remains the same: you tumble out of the way, the creature gets stuck for a moment, and you shoot at the glowing bits. And when you aren't fighting the bigger akrid, you're fighting off the smaller ones, which you can typically dispose of with a few shotgun blasts. And you do all of this in samey gray-white corridors and in small arenas frigid with wind and snow.

The action is bog-standard shooting, and the encounters are tame when compared to previous Lost Planet games. New this round is a cover system, though you rarely need to use it in the single-player campaign, and it's bizarre to see non-humanoid life-forms sticking against cover and rising up to fling projectiles at you. Yet there's still joy in watching orange thermal energy burst from an akrid's vulnerable wounds when you shoot it, not to mention the sense of relief that comes from smashing its iced corpse to smithereens. In the first case, you see the lifeblood leaking from your foe; in the second, you prove your superiority by vanquishing all remnants of it. The combination makes for a rewarding power trip.

Yet once you've vanquished one big akrid, you might as well have vanquished them all, and the best boss encounters in the game are those against different kinds of enemies entirely. And it must be said: the visual spectacle is noticeably lessened here, particularly on the PC, where bland textures, wonky animations, and low-resolution cutscenes are more prominent. (Also, be prepared to tweak the keyboard controls, because the default keybindings are laughably dumb.) Furthermore, small but vital flaws add up to give Lost Planet 3 a pervading sense of clumsiness. The grappling hook returns, but you can use it only in scripted locations, and zipping to a higher ledge delivers little sense of weight and momentum. Invisible walls pop up here and there, as do large collision boxes, which can keep movement from feeling absolutely fluid. Colossal akrid are not immune to these issues either; expect to see at least one big boss get stuck in place, allowing you to shoot it down without resistance.

These pustules make for a nice pop of color.

The vital suit mechs are gone from the campaign, though you do get a new toy to commandeer: a mining mech called the rig, which does a surprisingly good job of defending you from the local fauna. The rig isn't an offensive powerhouse, but there are numerous "hell yeah" moments that make you thankful for its protective housing. In the rig, you can grasp smaller akrid with its claw and drill them to death, watching t-energy splash all over the windshield. Facing a larger alien in the rig results in a rhythmic dance culminating in a scripted event in which you raise up the akrid's limb and drill into its tender joints.

Such events meander between traditional quick-time events and the tense interactions in the Walking Dead series in which you must hover the targeting reticle over a sensitive spot before attacking. It's the later mechanic that keeps rig battles from falling into too deep a rut, as repetitive as they can be. Besides, there's a real sense of impact when you swing your rig's mechanical arm that's missing from the on-foot shooting, and watching the drill buzz into your foe, spraying goo every which way, is plenty satisfying.

The rig is solid, but not invulnerable.

That goo was your ticket to warmth and health in previous Lost Planet games. In Lost Planet 3, it's just a currency you collect that you then cash in for weapons and weapon upgrades at NEVEC's center of operations. After many missions, you return to base and dock your rig; in fact, the game's open structure lets you do this whenever you like. It also allows you to repeat previous missions under the guise of "side missions." That menu designation doesn't boast truth in advertising, but at least you can go out and earn more t-energy at your leisure. There are also a few nooks to explore, where abandoned machinery and scattered audio logs flesh out NEVEC's complicated history, though you shouldn't take that to mean that E.D.N. III has much in the way of exploration value.

Lost Planet 3 ignores its past almost as completely as NEVEC does. Fugitive mode? Gone. Granular match customization? Forget it. Persistent faction battles? Gutted. Instead, you get less interesting (and on the plus side, less frustrating) team deathmatches, an objective-based Scenario mode, and Extraction, which has both teams fighting each other while collecting thermal energy. In spite of the familiarity of the modes, competitive multiplayer is good fun, in part because the grapple hook gets a good workout. You can grapple to higher ground or use a zip line to slide to the other side of the map in a matter of moments. It's gratifying to use the grapple hook to get to higher ground and get the drop on a competitor that had you on the ropes a moment before--and it's hard not to wish that the single-player campaign had made such good use of the hook.

Vital suits appear in multiplayer matches, but much of the magic has been lost.

In competitive matches, you can get a couple of armored vital suits in play, firing bullets and rockets at oncoming challengers, but none of the maps have the challenging verticality of Lost Planet 2's marvels. Thus it's the new three-on-three Akrid Survival mode that best captures the imagination. This mode combines cooperative and competitive play, first pitting teams against attacking akrid before bringing them together and forcing them to fend off the gross aliens--and each other--to retain control of a central structure. The tug-of-war can be challenging, with teams tossing grenades and firing explosive bolts into the outpost in hope of softening the enemy and rushing to take it for themselves, all while fending off the swooping critters that complicate matters.

Lost Planet 3 takes narrative steps forward while standardizing its sci-fi action, for better and for worse. It's a decent game, neither a mess nor a triumph. Its story pulls you through, even when the missions themselves don't deliver any sense of urgency. Shooting giant bugs on a hostile world is still entertaining. But in this wholly adequate prequel, a struggling series has lost some of its identity.

The Good
Great story that focuses on ordinary people in an unfriendly circumstance
Akrid Survival mode is tense and exciting
The Bad
Repetitive encounters in repetitive environments
Execution stumbles dampen the action
Loses what made the series unique, both online and off
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Lost Planet 3

About the Author

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

Discussion

28 comments
Leistalhamr
Leistalhamr

I don't care what Van Ord or anyone says, this game is cool. It is like Dead Space without the demonology, with some Resident Evil style shooting and Bioshock drill action when you stomp around in the mechs. The game's music is awesome and the graphics looks fantastic. It stands apart from the other Lost Planet games for better. There was no story in LP 2 don't even try. A little more open world would be nice but I hope they evolve this concept into something new for the next-gen systems.

TomJimJack
TomJimJack

Capcom you better do something to save your franchises that are sinking one by one at the hands of the others!

knifey112
knifey112

Kinda looks like they could have made this so much more and just went for the bare minium :(

Warmuro
Warmuro

This game is just a completely different third-person shooter which uses Lost Planet theme. Graphics and visual effects are ok, sounds and voice acting are ok. Gameplay is also cool, keyboard-mouse combo works great for me. When you shoot, you feel that "shoot and hit" effect, and fighting is good too. Story is also great. Almost every game becomes repetetive after a while, but in Lost Planet 3, this process is really short which you find yourself doing same things, walking in same roads again and again and so you find yourself bored. A sequel shouldn't be so much different in terms of almost everything. There's nothing wrong with the game except which i just wrote, It's just a "milking" and people who played the first two games easily noticed that. I bet there are some people who never played the first two ones and still did not like this game. 
Capcom was a great company and people want the old good Capcom. If things don't change, then we can say "EA has a new competitor". 

AngryOldFeral
AngryOldFeral

@Kevin VanOrd:

This is, unfortunately, exactly what happens when the gameplay mechanics you panned LP2 for are removed. As frustrating as the stunlocking and odd animation nuances of Lost Planet 2 were, they made up a large amount of the "soul" of the franchise in terms of learning the various (and oftentimes obscure and entirely too vague) gameplay dynamics that were seldom, if ever, clearly presented to the player.

Most people disliked previous LP games (LP2 especially) on account of the absurdly steep learning curve to overcome in order to excel at them. However, the cult following the games accrued over the years stemmed largely from the same unorthodox choices of gameplay mechanics. The games were very polarizing: you either loved them or you couldn't stand them.

Removal of the learning curve in an attempt to allow more accessibility was a poor decision by developers... while certain dynamics definitely needed vast improvements, the outright removal of most of them took a lot of the appeal away from veterans of the series. A key example is the inability to use your grappling-hook at will and removing jumping, thus destroying the freedom of movement that made earlier games so interesting (especially in versus modes).

Ultimately, you're left with a game that alienates its core fanbase by deviating so greatly from the formula they loved. Then, unfortunately, its attempt to appeal to a broader demographic backfired when it failed to do anything impressive with its more streamlined, simplified approach to what was once a run n' gun shooter with a number of intricate, subtle details one needed to learn to succeed. 

Old fans are left with a bastardization of one of their favorite series, and new fans get to experience a generic third-person shooter that sometimes lets you stomp around in a mech and punch stuff with a drill arm, and a versus mode that pales in comparison to its predecessors'.

net_demon_demon
net_demon_demon

I have read all these reviews and what not. Every one talking about LP1 and LP2 and saying how this one should follow same story and all that. Let us not forget that this is the third lost planet. The second part should follow the first part but the third part of a movie or game should follow about the same path as the first two but it should also drift away from the original story line. The fourth part if there will be one should be completely brand new. I have not yet gave this game a try but as for it not being the same as the other two is not why. What I look for is the game play and style of the game it self. If the game play is fun then sure I can see my self playing it but if it is not fun at all then I cant. I must agree with superdance999. Do not knock the game before you try it. Seriously at least give the game a chance and then decide. I can think of many games that got low ratings and bad reviews that actually turned out being good games.

TreFacTor
TreFacTor

As a fan of the first two, I hated everything about this game from the beginning. I was so hoping that broad changes had been made in the design decisions they were going with, but low and behold they managed to screw up one of my favorite franchises.

GeneralMufinMan
GeneralMufinMan

Accidentally bought the first one way back when it came out, just terrible. Not surprising that the legacy continues 

superdance999
superdance999

A lot of disappointcomment before you never try this game !!
When i see the score for rating this game i know who review this 
because this year Kevin gave ever good game low score!!
Ii's is not fair for gave this game for 5
Something better than lost planet 1 and 2
easy for look for the bad thing
but how you think about the people who spend time and work for this game
one opinion make the game down
i think gamespot should have more than one review for game

finally i like to say if you are the gamer you have to try all
and give your score but don't judge before you play it !!!  

Atheosis
Atheosis

This looks like hot garbage.

bishop60
bishop60

Nothing out of the ordinary. Capcom has been sucking for years.

PupilsDilated
PupilsDilated

I was about to go out and buy this, but then I came here and saw the score...is it really that bad?

DemoKnight10656
DemoKnight10656

lost planet 1 and 2 are my favs but I cant decide which one is better lost planet 2 has fun as hell coop and competitive but lost planet 1 has a good single player hmmm

Succumbus
Succumbus

I got my hopes up about the second... nope. Got my hopes up about the third... nope.

Djdiddles77
Djdiddles77

Repetitive encounters in repetitive environments" sounds like the rest of the games in the series.  Played the original all the way through but couldn't make it through the 2nd one.  Everything was the same.  Burned me out.  Halo effect!  Halo did the same thing and still can't play a stupid Halo game!

Stabba_The_Kutt
Stabba_The_Kutt

I was hoping this would be the first lost planet game worth playing. Sad.

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

Lost Planet > LP2 > LP3. 

Disappointing, since the original was quite good. Capcom should have built on that foundation for LP2. LP3 doesn't seem to have captured what made the original great. 

masterhound
masterhound

1 - hate easy games!!!!!!!

2 - hate quicktime events!

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

Well, I guess this will go on the list to buy at some point for like $10...maybe.

Bleak5170
Bleak5170

As soon as I heard Spark was developing this game I knew it was not going to go well.

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

Not surprised at all. The minute they tried to westernize it it was all over.

PresidentDman
PresidentDman

@superdance999 The gamespot score is consistent with the average and I was fully expecting lost planet 3 to be average at best. I've played both lost planet 1 and 2 and they have enjoyable but ruff edges, however, they both have plenty of personality. 

If you've been following the news on this game you would have a feeling that the changes in the series probably have taken it too far away from the features of the game the fan base enjoyed - this has been reflected in the majority of the reviews.

I see no reason why I should give it a try as all the information out there tells  me I will be disappointed.

mastergundam
mastergundam

@bishop60 I miss Rockman X series, they should have continued with that one instead....

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

@AyatollaofRnR 

They thought way too hard on how to implement co-op and did such a terrible job doing it. Should've just had a main character and three guys that hung out or else created four characters that would be endearing instead of a gaggle of no names.

Lost Planet 3 More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    • PS3
    • Xbox 360
    Lost Planet 3 has players return to the extreme and unpredictable conditions that characterized the Lost Planet series. Players take on the role of Utility Rig pilot Jim Peyton who leaves Earth to take on a hazardous but lucrative contract on E.D.N. III.
    6.5
    Average User RatingOut of 268 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Lost Planet 3
    Developed by:
    Spark Unlimited
    Published by:
    Capcom
    Genres:
    Action, Team-Based, 3D, Shooter, Third-Person
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Language, Violence