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In the final moments of Lost Planet 2’s first chapter, an absolutely huge, vaguely reptilian beast bears down on us. It staggers forwards on six stubby legs, tri-part tongue lolling. The ground shakes and so do we. It’s an electrifying moment. And it’s even better with four of you.
Working with three teammates (controlled online or with AI), we blast away the creature’s legs. Once it’s immobilised we clamber down its gullet and shooterize its innards. This isn’t the only way to defeat the creature. We could have regrouped to higher ground and bombed on it from above. We could have used our grapple lines to get onto its back and shoot its vulnerable spines. We could, in fact, have done all three.
But it isn’t all about shooting monsters built like mountains. Though this boss encounter isn’t an isolated event (the game is populated by an abundance of weird, terrifying and occasionally stupendously huge creatures known as the Akrid), part of this sequel’s charm is in how such moments are rationed. They’re mixed with intense firefights, varied mission objectives and vastly differing environments.
Among the areas you’ll explore in the first half of the game are snowy wastes, lush jungles, industrial bunkers and ramshackle cities. Each provides its own faction, beasties and, crucially, tactical advantages. Natural environments, for instance, are full of leafy cover whereas urban areas boast rooftops and destructible scenery. The result is a game that sticks to a simple set of mechanics throughout but still feels fresh several hours and chapters in.
If a single theme unifies all of these elements, it’s the emphasis on cooperative play. As such, levels are not as linear as those of Gears of War, and more often they feel like multiplayer maps overlaid with the objectives and plot of a single-player game. It’s a feeling borne out by graphical flourishes such as the AI- controlled squad member’s fictional Gamertags and on-screen updates when you score a kill streak or catch a headshot.
Fans of the first game may be feeling slightly uneasy. But although this is a very different game from the first, it’s far from unrecognisable. Capcom have kept all the good stuff but let their imagination run riot. The result is a game that owes much to Western third-person shooters and multiplayer experiences in general. And it’s all the better for it.
Lost Planet 2 looks like it will be everything the first game was and more. The addition of four-player co-op, more varied environments and a wider-reaching plot has done wonders. It’s a game that even played solo feels like a brilliant multiplayer game with all the thrills, kills and high-fiving camaraderie you’d expect.
Mar 26, 2010