Third-person action games aren't exactly in high demand when it comes to the PC format. Console ports of third-person action games are even less welcome. Thus, it's a strange feat to play through the PC version of Xbox 360 mega-hit Lost Planet and still feel as exhilarated by its immense boss battles and explosive gameplay as we did the first time we turned it on six months ago.
At its core, Planet is an old-school game. Shoot anything that moves, toss a grenade, fling a rocket, hop in a giant robot, fire even bigger rockets at an even bigger enemy, and so on. The linear levels are designed to do only one thing - hurl wave after wave of mindless ice pirates and oversized insects your way. Such intense action keeps your hands fried to the controls from the first bullet all the way to the end boss, which is usually a building-sized monstrosity that takes untold amounts of ammunition to fell.
For the most part, that's all you have to know about the game. But it's not just the bone-jarring explosions or the dwarfing bugs that make Lost Planet so enticing. Underneath the balls to the wall action are moments of tranquil bliss, where nothing whatsoever is happening and you're free to hoof it across the icy plains, enjoying the beautiful sights of this bizarre planet where bugs have glowing weak points and leak precious energy you need to survive. This energy - T-ENG - is another crucial aspect of gameplay.
Instead of a life meter or hit points, you have a constantly draining energy meter. If it runs out, your main life source starts to fade. The only way to keep the meter full is by blasting bugs open or stealing energy from other humans in your path. Activating radar posts also boosts the meter, though riding in the giant robot suits (called Vital Suits) drains the meter even faster. It's a nice balance, always forcing you ahead but offering several different weapons, Suits and opportunities to steal more energy. With so many life-giving enemies and plenty of posts, we rarely suffered a death that was the design's fault and not our own.