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Set before the events of the previous games, Lost Planet 3 returns to the icy planet of E.D.N. III, which is still largely unexplored when the game begins. You take on the role of Jim Peyton--one of humanity's first colonists to the planet--as he uncovers the mysteries and dangers of the prosperous new world. Jim's a family man, just trying to earn an honest-days-work collecting T-Energy and killing Akrid for his nine-to-five, but Lost Planet doesn't share his ambition. Instead, this third-person shooter is buried under an avalanche of repetitive encounters, endless backtracking, and a partially-thawed storyline.
Jim's story starts with the first colony settled on the Akrid-infested, frozen planet. Peyton is an independent contract worker who makes a living drilling for the valuable T-Energy, making repairs, and killing Akrid in his giant mech he calls his Rig. As you progress through the narrative, you'll uncover the secrets your company, NEVEC, has been hiding, but none of these revelations feel particularly hard-hitting. The true conflict of the story doesn't come until the very end, and even with such a long lead, its main antagonist feels underdeveloped, and the cliffhanger ending leaves you feeling unsatisfied.
"...[the] main antagonist feels underdeveloped, and the cliffhanger ending leaves you feeling unsatisfied."
Outside the story, the gameplay alternates between the series' traditional third-person shooting on foot and first-person action from inside the Rig's cockpit. Jim and his Rig are rarely one without the other. While being able to hop into the mech can make for interesting combat strategies early on, LP3 doesn't keep the pace with new encounters or inventive puzzle solving as you progress through the story. What's worse is how often you'll be passing through familiar scenery; you'll find yourself hopping into your Rig and trudging through snowy tunnels as you trek from your NEVEC base to an outside objective then back again. Eventually you'll earn the ability to fast travel, but that only gives you a quicker way to see the same environments, yet again.
The gameplay doesn't change it's pace very often either. While you're navigating snow storms in your Rig, you'll often have to stop to repair objects like T-Energy wells and broken equipment, forcing you to solve an unchanging and dull rotate-the-analog-stick-to-find-the-sweet-spot puzzle. Combat variety also doesn't fair well in the mech. You're given the option to mash an attack button to kill anything in front of you, or use a basic block and grab combo to defeat almost every enemy you encounter. At first there seems to be lots to do, but eventually it all boils down to performing tiresome, stale actions again and again.
"At first there seems to be lots to do, but eventually it all boils down to performing tiresome, stale actions again and again."
Even the guns are rather bland. There's nothing particularly exciting or unique about your weapons, but they do get the job done with the satisfying feeling of heft you get from the powerful gun blasts. Weapons and abilities upgrades are available, giving you bonuses like reduced recoil or bullet stopping power, but the upgrades feel unnecessary and don't make much of a difference in combat. Battles are never particularly challenging to begin with since you'll be fighting a predictable set of easily defeated enemies.
The Akrid are the primary threat trying to rip you to shreds in E.D.N III's arctic conditions. Surprisingly, there isn't much variation in the insect-like attackers. The spider-like Sepia, face-hugging Tarkaa, and rolling Dongo show up too often, and the game misses the chance to introduce players to any new enemy forms or even bring back old Akrid from the previous games. Plus, you can expect to see a handful of repeat boss encounters; one in particular is repeated multiple times within the first few hours of the adventure. These repeats just make every successive battle even more tedious and boring than the last.
"...the [multiplayer's] limited game modes are not likely to keep you playing, if only for the lack of variety."
LP3's multiplayer doesn't do much to lift up the game's replayability. Besides the occasional dropped host or disconnection from the lobby, the visuals do not stand up compared to the story mode. Character textures are often blurry, and the character models lack any eye-catching detail. Like most multiplayer shooters on the market, Lost Planet 3 offers a progression system with unlockable abilities, weapons, and gadgets that is wide open for players to customize their loadouts. However, the limited game modes are not likely to keep you playing, if only for the lack of variety.
Lost Planet 3 starts off down the path of mediocrity almost immediately. Jim Peyton is a relatable character, but his story is held back by repetitive combat, tedious quests, and a narrative that doesn't deliver. Once you've played the first few hours of the campaign, you'll feel like you've already seen it all as you drag through the remainder of the plot. LP3 goes through the motions of the typical action game, never delivering any surprises or gameplay elements that would make a memorable experience. Instead, you'll just get to fight a giant crab boss for the fourth time.
Reviewed on Xbox 360
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