On the frozen tundra of E.D.N.III you find yourself fighting for survival as you try to unlock the mystery of your past and your father’s murder. Trust no one.
Your head hurts, bad. Feels like you’ve been in a comma for the past thirty years. Your vision is still a little blurry as you open your eyes. What room is this? Look like a hospital room. How did you get here? Doesn’t matter, you’re safe for the moment. You try to remember what happened but all that’s left is the memory of your father’s death by the creature called ‘Green eye’ and the NEVEC corporation’s involvement in the Frontier Project. The door to your room opens and man walks in introducing himself as Yuri. Removing a thermal energy (T-eng) coupling from your arm he whispers that this will be our little secret just as two more people walk in. A young woman named Luka and her brother, an eccentric young man named Rick. Seems you were rescued by some snow pirates. Over the next few weeks as you begin to regain your stregnth you hear about plans to attack the Akrid and slow the NEVEC coporation’s plans for the Frontier Project. All the snow pirate’s need is someone who can pilot a VS unit. Are you up for it?
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
Lost Planet: EC is a first person shooter that takes place on the frozen planet of E.D.N. III. The human civilization had tried to colonize this planet once and was driven back by the planets inhabitants, the Akrid. Bug like creatures that look straight out of Starship Troopers and who love nothing more then to do serious harm to you. Sent fleeing from this frozen wasteland (why do we want to live there again?) we were not about to give up and sent a larger force some years later to rid the planet of this infestation. Caught between the NEVEC corporation and the Akrid you play the role of Wayne. Suffering from amnesia and saved by compassionate snow pirates you promise to avenge the death of your father and uncover the secrets of your past.
These specifications were taken directly from the Capcom web site for Lost Planet. While Intel and Nvidia are the listed companies for their respective products comparable equipment from AMD/ATi will also work as well.
|CPU||Intel Pentium 4 w/ HT Technology|
|RAM||512MB (WinXP) / 1GB (Win Vista)|
|Hard Drive||8.0 GB Free space|
|Optical Drive||DVD9 Compatible (None if downloaded from Steam)|
VRAM 256MB, DirectX 9.0c / Shader 3.0 card*
*(Operation not assured if VRAM is shared with main memory)
|Sound||DirectSound Compatible, DirectX 9.0c|
|CPU||Intel Core 2 Duo|
|RAM||1 GB (WinXP) / 2GB (Win Vista)|
VRAM 256MB, Nvidia GeForce 8600
|Peripherals||Gamepad, Xbox 360 Controller for Windows|
From the looks of these requirements it would appear that smooth gameplay can be achieved with a mainstream system. Well these specs do not tell the entire story as I will elaborate more in the graphics section.
Lost Planet: EC is a first person shooter but that doesn’t mean you have to spend the entire time looking through the eyes of the main character. Actually, it was much more comfortable for me to stay in a third-person / over the shoulder view so as to see a larger area around you, occasionally zooming in for a better shot.
The game can be broken down into two major areas; inside either a cave dwelling or a building and outside on the frozen tundra of E.D.N. III.
Some of the areas are rather large and running across the entire area could take a few minutes, something that surprised me given the linear fashion of the game. This would be a most annoying aspect if not for the inclusion of the awesome vital suits or VS for short.
These are basically mechanical robots you can crawl inside of and pilot (ala Mechwarrior). The nice part about these robots is that you can upgrade the armament on them. Run out of rockets? No problem just grab that gatling gun on the floor there and let loose! Each VS can hold one weapon per arm for a total of two weapons. Each weapon is mapped to the corresponding mouse button. Left button for left weapon and vice-versa. Very simple.
For the most part the game sticks to the ‘run and gun’ stereotype of the genre but some novel attempts to break out of this exist in the game. The environment is highly destructible and almost anything you see can be destroyed. From large boulders to cars to large containers housing the precious T-eng. If you have the firepower then you’re in for some nice explosions.
Lost Planet includes a multiplayer aspect that is handled through Steam. This makes connecting to online games pretty streamline assuming there is a game to be found. Over a two day period I attempted to connect to an online game multiple times only to be told there were no matches found. This was disheartening as the thought of running around in Vital Suits blowing each other up with oversized machines guns sounds like the perfect break from the single player campaign. I hope to be able to update this article in the near future should games become available but as it stands now I can not comment on how good or not this aspect of the game is.
Anytime I pick up a new game I always shoot straight to the options menu where I check out what buttons I need to use for the maximum damage. Once I made my way to the controls screen this is what I saw.
Now this game was originally released for the Xbox 360 console so it was designed to ‘play’ a certain way. Seeing this screen was a let down for me. It let me know that this game was meant to played with a gamepad and using a keyboard and mouse was going to change that. Not only was it disappointing but throughout the game you are reminded this is a game meant for a console.
The two screens above illustrate what I mean. Using one of the many data points throughout the game requires fast tapping of the ‘E’ key or the ‘B’ key if you’re using the Xbox gamepad for Windows. The screenshot to the right is what you get when you jump into a new VS for the first time. There are about 5 – 6 different types of Vital Suits so you see this screen a few times. Just be sure to memorize what any of the keys shown are mapped to on the keyboard.
Without a doubt one of the most satisfying aspects of this game are the graphics. From the spot on fluid motions of the main character to the clunky, heavy footed VS everything in the game has weight to it and moves as you would expect.
To illustrate just how detailed the graphics are in this game here are two shots of an explosion in the game. The pictures don’t do it justice but it should give you and idea how nice they are. In the first picture the explosion just occurred and the surrounding area is filled with light from the explosion and the smoke cloud has just started to form. In the second picture the light has faded and the smoke has started to spread out. The effect is done wonderfully and should you get caught by a rocket or nearby grenade you’ll know just how real the smoke it when you can’t see anything more then two feet away from you.
Sound in this game is handled quite well. Everything, well ALMOST everything, sounds as you would expect it. From the sound of compacting snow as you run knee deep through it to the lumbering sounds of the VS units, the sound effects are exceptionally well done. The sound effect for the weapons also seem very polished. Unfortunately having never fired a gatling gun the size of small horse I could not tell if the sound is ‘spot on’ but it certainly sounds like I would expect it to (Maybe one day I can update this point). Even the enemy Akrid have a bone-chilling screech to them which I liken to a nightmarish bat or perhaps a banshee that seems to feel right. Truly the sound effects in this game were given the attention they deserved. This brings me to the only sore point regarding sound in this game.
The problem and this could be a big killer for some of you, is the poor voice acting. At times it is just laughable and while it isn’t important what they are saying (No secrets or pointers are ever divulged) it becomes very annoying as you progress through the game. At the end of each level is a video where the story is unraveled and it is just too unbearable to listen to at times. I suppose it wouldn’t be so hard to bear if something important was being said but the story of the this game is so shallow and all you really have to know is which button is the trigger. It makes the cut scenes little more then annoying breaks from the monotonous action of killing bug after bug.
On its own merits the game is rather shallow and the story is lacking with poor voice-acting but that doesn’t stop Lost Planet: EC from being a fun game to play, to an extent. The game itself becomes very monotonous and you quickly find yourself performing the same motions over and over again. The entire time spent with this game had me feeling like I should playing it on a console. A mouse and keyboard allows for more accurate shooting and this is shown throughout the game as it becomes far to easy to mow down hordes of Akrid. Fighting bosses which are often larger versions of the same Akrid also becomes a simple affair once you learn where to aim. (No spoilers here). While the large guns and stunning graphics are nice, you quickly become used to them and find yourself looking for something more to hold your attention. Sadly, after playing through the entire game there isn’t anything more. Even being able to look up your scores from previous levels echoes that this game is better suited on a console where points and achievements are far more valuable then on a PC given they provide no additional content.
To give you a clear picture of how I rated this product I chose five distinct areas of interest and scored them out of a possible 10.
Game play: 7.0 - Realistic motions and cool guns were a plus but the repetitive nature of the game and the sub-standard port from its console version cost it some points.
Graphics: 9.0 - Stunning explosions and detailed environments abound, there is little fault to be found in this department.
Sound: 7.0 - With spot on weapon and VS sounds the only (and biggest) downside to the sound was the laughable voice acting.
Fun factor: 4.0 – Fun for the first hour or so, this game quickly turns tedious with carbon copy levels of itself time and again without ever feeling concerned about the main character.
Value: 6.0 – For anyone who wants more then pretty pictures and big guns this game is seriously lacking. If killing countless bugs over and over again is your thing then it’s worth a look.
+ Big guns
+ Sound effects
- Too repetitive
- Awkward default key mappings
- Voice acting is unintentionally funny
Final score: 6.5 out of 10 paws.