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Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

by Kenny Lindsay

Capcom’s latest, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is a futuristic shooter that takes its player through an ice-filled battle of survival on a newly discovered snow planet called EDN III. While attempting to settle on this frigid rock, humans soon discover that they are not alone, and are accompanied by local and very hostile aliens called Akrid, and it becomes apparent that life will be impossible unless the Akrid are wiped out. Defenseless, the planet is evacuated, but not before discovering a secret thermal energy source that lies within the giant bugs; suddenly there is hope.

A band of soldiers are formed and return to do battle not only with the Akrid, but the elusive Snow Pirates who stayed behind during the original evacuation. After a fierce battle and witnessing his father’s death, Wayne – our hero – is discovered barely alive by a small group of survivors within the icy wasteland and is nurtured back to health with only the memory of his father and the great beast that killed him. And, of course, he’s hell-bent on revenge.

It’s a pretty solid storyline for a shooter and if I could describe it in one sentence it would be, Super Troopers goes to the Hoth System of Star Wars, minus the blood and bad language. Not far into the game a conspiracy begins to unfold that involves a big corporation – commonly known as the Man – who selfishly intends to transform the planet into a more hospitable living environment at the cost of many innocent lives. Wayne now has to deal with the unfolding plans of the evil corporation and regain his identity while battling Akrid and Snow Pirates to ensure the survival of the human race.

Wayne is equipped with a grappling hook and a strange apparatus attached to his arm that seems to have some sort of link to his loss of memory. Its secret is revealed at the end of the game. As usual, there are many different weapons to be discovered throughout the journey, the best of which are the VS (Vital Suits), that are very similar to our beloved Mech Warriors of earlier games and classic Japanimation flicks. There are handfuls to be discovered, from cumbersome construction vehicles that have been modified for war to advanced military prototypes that are more nimble and destructive and are almost essential for advancement. There are also mining tanks that transform into upright walking robots, snow speeders, and lightweight VS that keep this title interesting.

Because of the sub-zero temperatures, the survival suit you are wearing is constantly being depleted of energy, so it’s absolutely necessary to continually pick up the thermal signatures that are left behind by the victims you take down. Thermal energy can also be found by blowing up barrels and old abandoned vehicles.

The dialog during the cut scenes is at least bearable and luckily there are a few hotties in the picture to warm things up a bit. The detailed landscapes are absolutely breathtaking and the designers of the game really portray the planet’s chilly and dangerous environment well. I can’t help but wonder if this title would have done as well had it been released in the middle of summer as opposed to January.

The game play is crisp, accurate and has a decent online campaign – provided that you can find a group of well-rounded people to play with. Which reminds me: Most of us who play games online have experienced that one player who is a traitor and kills everyone on his team and turns into the highest priority target; last week my team had one. Soon after singling this guy out, he couldn’t get but a few shots off before I’d plant one in the back of his head and his frustration was showing through his comments. Eventually he was threatening to come to my house and beat my ass. I’ve been playing online since my first 56K modem and this was a first.

Setting rotten online players aside, Lost Planet is a great game and is one that will more than likely be replayed again and again. It falls under the shooter genre, but it could easily stand in the adventure category as well. Quite often the camera angle will switch to a third person point of view, giving a great sense of space and the massiveness of the creatures and VS.

Kudos to Capcom on this one, and I hope they continue the good work.

To comment on this column, email Kenny Lindsay at kenny@yesweekly.com.

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