Unfortunately though, it’s certainly not all like that. For every great slice of tasty set-piece pie, there’s a bitter, bland run-and-gun slog, so devoid of flair that not even the huge weaponry can keep it exciting. The corridor-fest in the above video is a particularly moribund experience. These sections are dull at best and frequently infuriating. And the thing that makes them the most infuriating? The fact that by trying so hard to become the new darling of the Gears of Halo: Army Among Thieves crowd, Capcom has taken things way too far.
Above: The good and the bad. Compare and contrast...
In terms of its scale, borderline unhealthy explosions-per-second ratio and sheer delight in sweet, blissful carnage, Lost Planet 2 is every bit the modern day 3D Contra. But it misses one vital lesson that Contra’s basic design taught us. Namely that…
Above: The first commandment of co-op
Lost Planet 2’s design relies far too much on the assumption of multiple players, and the balancing is often a mess for only one player. Sometimes you’ll find yourself ploughing through waves of stupid grunts like a lightsaber through already-melted butter, while at other times it will feel like you’re smashing your face into a wall of bricks sculpted from pure death, and cemented together with anguish.
Those sections, usually the ones packed with enemy mechs, automated gun turrets or mega-sized bosses, are clearly designed or a co-op team to take on together via flanking tactics and diversionary play. And in that respect, they’re often brilliantly designed.
But with only yourself and the rather ineffectual squad AI at hand, they’re frequently an un-fun nightmare of a grind, particularly given that they often come at the end of multi-section levels (often dull ones) which have to be completely restarted if you run out of continues during the finale. And although you can increase your number of lives by manually securing Data Posts (read: restart points) along the way, there are times in single-player when you’ll pray for the 30 lives bestowed by Contra’s legendary Konami code. Scream for it, in fact.
How about a boss fight in which you have to maintain and fire a colossal railway gun? Sound awesome? What if that means manually loading the beer barrel-sized ammo, manually charging up that ammo to make it more powerful, manually operating controls at either side of the gun to rotate it quickly left and right (it absolutely crawls when controlled using just the gun sights), manually aiming, manually firing, and sporadically running below deck to manually repair damage before the train blows up? While being attacked by a monster the size of Wales? As a team, kick-ass. On your own, balls.
That much-vaunted, multi-stage battle with the giant salamander Akrid? The one where you can shoot its legs out, climb up on its back, and eventually get inside its mouth and kill it from the inside? As a co-ordinated team, you’ve got the tactical ability to pull that off. As one man and a bunch of aimless AI, you’ll probably just end up spamming it with rockets for a very long time.