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Lost Planet Colonies - hands-on

Though the title may suggest an entirely new game, Lost Planet Colonies is in fact a re-imagined version of the 2007 original. As huge fans of the first outing, we're simultaneously excited and let down by this "remix," but there's a strong chance the changes made will be large enough to get people back in their Vital Suits and, more importantly, back on Xbox Live. There's a lot of ground to cover, but before we get into the single player changes and new weapons/characters, let's talk about stuff that'll actually get you to shell out $30 for this all over again.

The coolest addition we saw, by far, was the Akrid Hunter multiplayer mode. Here, random players get to take control of the myriad giant bugs that were previously confined to the solo game. Their life meters are huge, requiring a unified assault from all the human players. The near-impossible struggle of man against Cloverfield-sized bug adds another layer of skull-smashing intensity to an already loaded multiplayer title. There are some balancing issues though, as the bugs have perhaps too much life. It took four humans several lives to down one bug once, while they swipe and take out multiple soldiers with ease. We saw two bug varieties, but there will be more, including a bafflingly large beasty.

The other multiplayer modes have clearer parallels - VS Annihilator has teams targeting specific enemy units (like VIP); CounterGrab is all about securing and holding data posts (like Territories); Akrid Egg Battle plays like capture the flag; and Egg Bandit makes you steal the "flag" and hold it for as long as possible. The final mode, Point Snatcher, has you beating opponents and stealing their T-ENG to amass more than anyone else.

Four new maps continue the Lost Planet tradition of trying something not found in the solo game. In Assault Space you can actually fall off the level, plus engage in some zero-gravity firefights. We didn't see this level in action, sadly. We did play Lost Arena however, which is a giant gladiator pit right out of Rome. Our human/Akrid throwdown took place here, and was part of the reason we loved that mode so much. The level's high-up grandstands and deep trenches made avoiding the massive bugs a constant thrill ride, with insect limbs probing into the trenches, throwing dust everywhere and narrowly buzzing our poor human heads. The final two maps are Area 921 (two buildings linked by a tunnel) and Crossfire City (wide streets and tall buildings). You'll also receive the downloadable levels that have hit XBLM over the past year.

Colonies also adds four new characters to the mix, two girls and two robots. They join four new human weapons (hand gun, revolver, hand cannon and flamethrower) and four new Vital Suit megaguns (spike launcher, VS rifle, rocket pod and laser lance). 360 and PC players can game together too, hopefully adding even more potential matches on XBL. There is, of course, a catch to all this change.

Colonies is such a different creation, with 1000 new Achievement Points and all that other new stuff that it won't recognize old saves or multiplayer matches set up by the original Lost Planet. That means starting all over solo and only being able to play with other Colonies owners. It's kind of a dubious excuse (not to mention flat out lame), but Capcom argues you're getting enough new content to justify a whole new purchase.

So, what of single player? Read on.