Capcom's shooter Lost Planet comes to the PlayStation 3 more than a year after its Xbox 360 debut, and it has a few extra goodies up its sleeve, such as more multiplayer maps and characters to tempt those who have never gone hunting for giant bugs in the snow before. Unfortunately, none of the added extras enhance Lost Planet's gameplay, and the PS3 version's visuals are actually inferior to those of its 360 and PC counterparts.
The 360 version of Lost Planet was fun, but it had a few frustrating quirks that made gameplay a real chore at certain points. The PS3 version is identical in gameplay style and content--nothing new has been added to the single-player experience, which means it shares its 360 compadre's good and bad points. Lost Planet puts you in the shoes of Wayne, an enigmatic snow pirate battling giant bugs known as akrid on a frozen planet called E.D.N. III. The plot follows Wayne as he tries to make sense of his father's death, destroy one huge, murderous insect after another, deal with marauding snow pirates, tackle the evil NEVEC corporation's plans to terraform the planet, and more. We'd give you more detail, but storytelling isn't this game's strong suit. The story mostly makes no sense at all, and the hammy voice acting does nothing to dispel its sci-fi B-movie feel.
All an eager gamer really needs to know is that you get to tackle plenty of bugs Starship Troopers-style in Lost Planet, plus you get to pilot a wide variety of mechs. The game's third-person action sees Wayne running around a variety of snow-covered environments. You use the control sticks for movement and aiming, and L2 and R2 to fire grenades and weapons, respectively. As well as the action-game standards of jumping and crouching, Wayne has a Bionic Commando-like grappling hook that he can throw to hoist himself onto high areas. When you're in a mech (called vital suits--or VS--in the game), the controls work in much the same way, although most VS units have some sort of dash and double-jump moves.
Every enemy killed and most objects destroyed in Lost Planet will net you thermal energy--glowing gobs of orange goo that act as Wayne's health (actually, Wayne has a separate life bar that refills as long as you have stores of thermal energy). Wayne's stocks of thermal energy will steadily decrease at all times, a gameplay mechanic that gives Lost Planet an all-action feel and forces you to continue to move forward and rain fiery death on your enemies to stay alive.
It's mostly nonstop shooting in Lost Planet, with no puzzles and very little platforming to get in the way. It's great fun to take on the various forms of akrid, and piloting VS units with all their various shapes, sizes, and abilities never gets boring. Boss fights are especially epic, and though each conforms to a set attack pattern that can be easily learnt, they're enjoyable. It's a pity, then, that the game's solid platform of destruction and mayhem is undermined by sluggish controls. Wayne himself moves rather slowly, and the situation is even worse with most VS units. The game's targeting reticle is similarly plodding, positioning you at a distinct disadvantage against faster enemies like VS-equipped humans. The game does have a quick-turn feature, although this tends to disorient you more than help you. And for some strange reason, Wayne cannot shoot straight up--his aiming angle seems to stop at about 65 degrees or so, which means airborne enemies (and there are plenty of them) become quite difficult to target.
The game is also a little overwhelming to look at in certain spots, with effects thrown in by the bucketful to the detriment of clarity. This can be especially annoying during boss fights, with smoke effects, snow, explosions, laser fire, debris, and much more cluttering the screen. Sure, it looks impressive in most cases, but we'd rather be able to see what our character is up against onscreen rather than being taken down by another attack simply because we couldn't see it coming.
All of these gameplay faults were present in Lost Planet on the 360, and it's extremely disheartening that none of these issues were addressed in the intervening months before the game's PS3 release. What's of even more concern is that despite the added time, the PS3 version seems to be graphically inferior to the Xbox 360 version. The game's textures seem a lot less crisp compared to the 360 version, and we found more obvious instances of jaggies and artifacting in the PS3 version (and more frequent occurrences). Frame rate seemed to hold steady for most of the game, with some noticeable slowdown during especially crowded firefights. And in what seems to be the norm for recent Capcom PS3 games (such as Devil May Cry 4), you are forced to go through an installation process at Lost Planet's initial setup--our install took roughly 12 minutes. This didn't seem to matter too much to the end experience, however, as load-time comparisons we ran with the 360 version showed that the PS3 was coming out on top by two to three seconds per load at most.
What the game does bring to the PS3 table is the complete Lost Planet experience so far. It ships with all of the added content released for both the 360 and PC versions. This means 16 multiplayer maps are available from the get-go, including the ones released on Xbox Live: Radar Field, Island 902, Hive Complex, Trial Point, Ice Drop, Ruins, and Lost Technology. New characters are also available for play in the single-player campaign and in multiplayer: in-game hottie Luka, snow pirate Joe, Dead Rising's Frank West (in his underwear, no less), and MegaMan. When it comes to multiplayer, the game features four gameplay modes with support for up to 16 players. Lost Planet presents a smooth and lag-free online experience--we had no hassles at all in several gameplay sessions with hosts from around the world (mainly from Japan), and there seemed to be plenty of available games and players ready for action.
But more multiplayer maps and a few quirky character additions aren't enough sweeteners to have made the yearlong wait between console releases worthwhile for PS3 owners. Sure, the core gameplay--fun as it is--is still intact, but the PS3 community was probably right to expect some exclusive content, gameplay tweaks, or a snazzier look as their reward for patience. As it is, Lost Planet for the PS3 is a decent shooter with plenty of fun moments, but it's not a shining example of how to do a console-to-console port.