Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Shootout with space pirates and gigantic bugs, what could go wrong? Well…
One of the great things about video game sequels—especially as opposed to movie ones—is that they’re often better than their predecessors. Game makers often use the second go-round to fix the mistakes of the previous outing, as well as to add new ideas. But while Lost Planet 2 builds upon the 2006 original, these additions unfortunately don’t make the game any better and, in some case, actually make it worse.
Like its predecessor, Lost Planet 2 is a third-person sci-fi shooter set on a world overrun by corporate mercs, space pirates, and the indigenous life, gigantic bugs and lizards called Akrid. The thing is, E.D.N.III isn’t the same planet it was in the original. While it used to be a totally frozen wasteland, it now has lush jungles, barren deserts, and rusty industrial parks. As a result, Lost Planet 2 has not only lost the isolated feeling that permeated the original, but — because you no longer have to keep hunting for the thermal energy that kept you from freezing to death — the tension that kept things exciting last time as well.
Still, it's those showdowns with the Akrid—especially the gigantic ones who tower over you like Godzilla towers over a chicken nugget—that make this game worth playing. These battles are lengthy and grinding, but they’re also epic in scale and very satisfying. Especially when you’re piloting one of the game’s many cool Virtual Suits, mechanical armored outfits that range in scale from man-sized to multi-personnel titans.
The game also has multiple ways to play, but even here there are problems. The story mode has you playing as different nameless grunts in four-person squads, so naturally the game has four-player co-op. What’s cool is that unlike so many co-op games, Lost Planet 2 actually requires you to be cooperative. Not only do you have to often work together, but you also need to really watch each other’s back.
Which might explain why the game is so unfriendly to those of us who don’t play well with others. To play Lost Planet 2 solo, you have to set up a co-op match, but with A.I. working the other three squadmates. And even then you have to set the connection to “Offline” instead of “Online,” otherwise you won’t be able to pause the game when the phone rings.
The competitive multiplayer modes are also faulty. While “Fugitive” — in which everyone gangs up on one unlucky guy — is engaging, the versions of “Deathmatch,” “Team Deathmatch,” and “Capture The Flag” are pretty rote. What’s worse, and inexplicable, is that in the team-based modes, your enemies’ identifiers are colored blue while your teammates’ are red — exactly the opposite of every other game, ever. Which might not seem like that big of a deal…until you realize that, even after playing all weekend, you’re still inadvertently shooting your allies.
Lost Planet 2 is, by no means, a horrible game. It’s actually rather fun if you play it with three trigger-happy friends. It’s just far less engaging if you play it alone, or against people online, and it’s not the step-up from the original we were hoping it would be. Most egregiously, it’s lost so much of what made the original so, well, original. Here’s hoping they do a better job with the next sequel.