Fans are returned to Capcom’s alien-filled franchise with Lost Planet 3. However, this entry changes the formula by providing an origin to the Akrid conflict as the series’ third installment serves as a prequel to the first two titles.
The game successfully attempts to recreate the mood and atmosphere that can be found inside classic science fiction thrillers. This is accomplished through a well crafted combination of story, characterization, and environment.
Exciting employment opportunities
Lost Planet 3 places players in the role of Jim Peyton who is a new Rig operator for the NEVEC company on the ice planet of E.D.N. III. Using his Rig, which is the series name for human-piloted personal mechs, Jim joins the ranks of a small team of workers who are mining the planet for thermal energy. Since this is a prequel, a major Akrid attack has yet to take place during this point in the timeline. As such, players will find that the Rigs of Lost Planet 3 have yet to be weaponized. Just because they don’t have chain guns mounted to their frame, however, doesn’t mean that gamers won’t be putting the claws and drills of the industrial Rigs to great use inside the title’s combat.
Since Peyton travelled to the hostile planet for employment purposes in order to send money back home to his family, the acquisition of thermal energy plays a major role within Lost Planet 3 as it is a form of currency on E.D.N. III. The Akrid threat provides players with several new opportunities to take on side missions that reward extra hazard pay. These range from repairing key installations on the planet, to rescuing co-workers or wiping out nests. Players can then use their hard-earned thermal energy to purchase new weapons and upgrades from the quartermaster located within the NEVEC base.
A man and his Rig
Although gamers have powerful Rigs at their disposal doesn’t mean that they will spend their entire time inside the relative safety of their massive mechs. There are plenty of instances in the gamer where players must go out and explore the surface alone. Lost Planet 3 does a decent job of dividing play time between the on foot portions of the game which feature a third person camera, and the first person mech sequences.
Even when not piloting a Rig, the mech plays a central role in combat. Jim’s suit is equipped with an umbilical system which provides several advantages when players are within a certain range of the Rig. Remaining within link distance gives gamers an improved health regeneration as well as access to the game’s HUD. On-screen conveniences such as a mini-map display, enemy radar, and ammo reserves are only displayed while within umbilical range of the Rig. Players who venture out too far will lose all connection to the heads-up display.
After facing the Akrid on foot for a period, players will feel a sudden rush of power when they are finally able to return to their Rig. Aliens that provided a challenge just moments ago can quickly be dispatched while piloting the mech.
As mentioned earlier, business law at this point in the series prohibits Rigs from being equipped with munitions, but gamers won’t have any trouble mowing down lesser Akrid with their mining gear. Players will find that a drill designed to mine through hard ice and rock works equally well against aliens. However, the Rig doesn’t make Jim invulnerable. It can still run into danger when swarmed. There are also colossal boss Akrid within the game which provide a challenge even for those piloting a mech.
The bleakness of space
Lost Planet 3 successfully crafts an alien world that feels foreboding and dangerous even without the presence of the Akrid. The game weaves an effective sense of isolation on the dark, cold, and distant planet that holds only a small group of workers. The fact that there are so few characters within the game enhances the feeling of loneliness and desperation.
One area in which Lost Planet 3 really shines is in its character design. Each of the game’s cast has a unique personality and look. Every stylized character model is specific to that person, which makes each one feel like a living individual. Even their facial animations reveal defining idiosyncrasies within each character.
Just as every human found inside the game has a unique look; players can expect to see the same with the Akrid of E.D.N. III. The planet is filled with many different alien types, each with their own look and combat strategy.
An epic sci-fi adventure
Fans of science ficion will draw several parallels between Lost Planet 3 and classic sci-fi films such as Aliens and The Thing. What ends up being an impressive feat is that the game manages to capture the feel of these works that are regarded as some of the genre’s finest examples. This makes Lost Planet 3 a joy to any science fiction aficionado. Furthermore, as a prequel, the game includes a new introduction to the franchise that allows new players to be able to jump into the series for the first time without having to have played the series’ first two installments.
- Captures the feel of sci-fi classics through the use of setting, plot, and atmosphere
- The dual gameplay of Rig and foot combat mixes well
- The game is separated into small maps which necessitates the use of numerous loads which occur a bit too often.
A copy of Lost Planet 3 on the Xbox 360 was provided for the purposes of this review.