Rumored for months thanks to foreign trademark filings and general Internet speculation, Lost Planet Colonies is not a true sequel nor the strategy-focused offshoot that some claimed to be in the works - rather it's an expanded re-release of the original 2007 shooter, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition. Call it a Gold Edition, or perhaps just a super-sized Platinum Hit; whatever your luminous descriptor of choice, Lost Planet Colonies is a classy package at a sharp price that many - though perhaps not all - Lost Planet fans should scope out.
Those looking for the full dirt on the original game should consult our initial review, but here's the quick version: Lost Planet is an alien-bug-zapping third-person action fest that mashes in a couple of unexpected (and mostly awesome) play elements in the form of mechs (Vital Suits, as they're called in the game) and a grappling hook. The narrative is uninteresting and the gameplay can be a bit slow-paced at times, but the monstrous bosses make it a worthwhile trek, and the online multiplayer is unlike anything else out there (though the original release was a bit thin on modes and maps).
Luckily, Colonies puts most of its emphasis on remedying any issues with the online battles, boosting the map count to 20 (up from eight in the original), tossing in several new weapons and player models, and adding seven new gametypes, most notably the awesome Akrid Hunter mode. All of the downloadable maps for the original release are here (including the brilliant 8-bit homage, Lost Technology), as well as four newcomers (the space freighter-set Assault Space is a highlight). And to sweeten the pot, Xbox 360 players can take on Lost Planet Colonies players on the PC, as well, further expanding the opponent base and hopefully giving the game a much longer lifeline.
We liked the new Egg Bandit and Akrid Egg Battle multiplayer modes, which bear similarities to capture the flag modes in other shooters, and the VS Annihilator mode puts an interesting all-or-nothing emphasis on the protection of the singular mech on each team. But we kept going back to the Akrid Hunter mode, which smartly puts up to four players (in each 16-player match) in control of the massive alien beasts for the first time, while the rest of the players make up the human squad tasked with taking them down. Our greatest movie-monster fantasies were realized online, as the 12-on-4 battles raged on in a variety of locales and seemed unexpectedly well balanced (with outcomes falling in both directions with regularity).
You can't have it all, though - the single-player additions don't hold the same weight as the online goods, primarily falling either into the category of perspective tweaks (first-person and over-the-shoulder viewpoints are now included) or bonus modes based on existing content. The arcade-style Score Attack, power/speed-boosted Unlimited Mode, and boss survival Trial Battle Mode would have been nice, fluffy additions to the original game, but are hardly worth the fresh investment on their own. As a comprehensive and thoroughly enjoyable multiplayer package, however, Lost Planet Colonies is well worth seeking out for its refreshed online servers and distinct new play modes.
Jun 3, 2008