Lost Planet First Look

We check out snow, mechs, and hordes of alien critters in motion in Capcom's upcoming Xbox 360 sci-fi action game.

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LAS VEGAS--The future seems like a real drag if Capcom's promising and mysterious Lost Planet is any indication of what to expect. Though the game was originally announced in December, at the time it was only officially announced for Japan. At Capcom's recent press event, the lush, epic game was confirmed for the US. Following the flashy trailer, which has made the rounds on the Internet and the Xbox Live Marketplace, producer Keiji Inafune offered those in attendance a look at the game in motion and some information on what to expect from it.

For those who missed out on the announcement, Lost Planet is set in a far-off future on an icy planet overrun by enormous and very grabby aliens called the Akrid, nicknamed Green Eyes by the locals. You'll play as a mysterious amnesiac who finds himself on this inhospitable world. Your only memory, and it's a bummer, is seeing your father killed by some Akrid. However, rather than wallow in amnesiac self-pity, you decide to get your revenge on and set out to enact Hamurabi's Code of Laws. Rather than try to take out an Akrid's daddy, though, you're content to get your kill on with any of them. To accomplish this, you hook up with some local snow pirates who are into killing the critters. Of course, there's some intrigue in the group as well, as you'll discover all sorts of bickering factions, some of whom are even into taking out their own as opposed to the Green Eyes.

There will be several different vital suits in the finished game.
There will be several different vital suits in the finished game.

As far as the game goes, we had the chance to check out three areas set in different locations--frozen city, pirate fortress, and flyer nest--which shed some light on how snow, mechs, and aliens work together in the game. The first area, frozen city, showed off what it's like to roam around on foot, plus the alien hazards that run amok. The area appeared to be a once-proud city half buried in mounds of snow, which hid some unfriendly aliens anxious to murder you. Before the main character wound up walking into an open square area, we got a glimpse of what will likely be a key control mechanic, the anchor line that you can use to access new areas and to help stop you from falling. The demo began on the outskirts of the town center amid ruined and snow-covered buildings. The main character used the anchor to pull himself up to a rooftop and snag a shotgun. Once he got closer to the town's center, he got a special Akrid surprise from beneath the sun as a massive critter popped out, eager to give him a hug. A few shotgun blasts later and the critter was one with the universe, leaving behind a handy blob of thermal energy that could be collected. It turns out the energy is used to power a variety of machines and weapons in the game. A nice touch is that some of the weapons you can pick up will actually be arms meant for your vital suit (VS for short), so you can haul around some massive railgun-like gear that's cool to look at.

We got our first look at the machines in Lost Planet when the hero headed over to a mound of snow and did some digging, which yielded a mighty VS. The pseudo-mech device was one of several models you'll encounter. Inafune mentioned that the team is planning on including seven or eight different mechs in the game. The model we saw in motion looked like a cousin to the power loader in Aliens, in that it had more of an exoskeleton feel to it and left the pilot exposed. That said, it's tough to talk too much smack about the pilot's exposure, because the suit packed considerable firepower and capably took out Akrids of assorted sizes that were menacing it. We saw another VS a bit later that was much more compact and actually transformed from mech to snowmobile, which should come in handy when traversing the vast tundras of the world. Inafune also noted that the suits have elements of vehicles and weapons and would come into play at certain parts of the game, and when that happens, you'll be at a disadvantage if you're not in one. What stood out in the city area was the sheer size of the town center, complete with an impressive arch. There was also a good measure of interactivity in the area, and we saw vehicles and lampposts being destroyed.

The second demo area, pirate fortress, was an impressive, fortified structure that housed a group called the Crimson Pirates, who weren't too pleased at the main character's arrival. The sequence showed off one of the potential conflicts you'll face in adventures with your fellow man, and it's apparent that no one is getting along in the future. It seems that whatever icy cataclysm befell the world didn't end up leading mankind to bond much. One of the big elements to the demo here was the real-time weather system that will change on the fly. The other key thing was how it's possible to jack an enemy's VS by jumping on it and planting a bomb to "help" its current pilot give it up.

There's no real real-time weather system in this cave, but the place is full of Akrid.
There's no real real-time weather system in this cave, but the place is full of Akrid.

The final demo area was simply called the flyer nest, where we found the main character navigating a vast cave system chock-full of flying Akrid. The section showed off the other uses for the anchor line, which helps keep you from plunging to your death if you walk off a ledge or other precipitous locale. We also saw a flashlight that was being used to illuminate the area. Finally, when it came time to start with the shooting, we scrutinized the third-person aiming system, which appeared to work well. Inafune noted that the team intends to give it an FPS feel by offering a good amount of targeting precision to players.

Outside of the demo areas, Inafune dropped a few other nuggets of information about the game. The current plan is to have roughly 12 single-player missions as well as online multiplayer missions. The base target for online games is presently 16. Finally, once work on the 360 game is done, there likely will be a mobile Lost Planet game as well.

Based on what we saw, Lost Planet is an interesting, original 360 game that has a lot of potential. The variety of gameplay between being on foot and being in a VS could keep things interesting, and the game's scale really does add a lot to the story's impact. Despite being a work in progress, the game is already looking sharp and running well. If you're looking for something to keep your eye on, you may want to keep close tabs on Lost Planet, which is due later this year. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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