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Discussion The Patient Gamer: Lost Planet - Extreme Condition

GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,415
837
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So I just completed Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, an old Xbox 360 launch title developed by Capcom that was ported to the PC back in 2006/2007. Its a third person shooter game where you fight across a desolate ice planet where humanity's first extrasolar colonization project has met spectacular failure thanks to the emergence of the Akrid, a non-sentient alien race of monsters that made life on the planet unsustainable. To fight these beasts, mankind develops pilotable mechs known as Vital Suits (VS for short), and the game revolves around fighting both human and alien enemies on foot as well as with a variety of VS'.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the game enough to actually finish it (which really says something), but it does have some serious flaws that you either get over or can potentially end up ruining the game.

In terms of what I felt the game did right: The graphics and more importantly the art direction, are spectacular. We've seen post apocalyptic worlds before, but they tend to be desert wastelands. Lost Planet takes place almost entirely in the snow, which might not feel like a significant departure but it gives the game a very different visual feel and the entire color pallet is shifted to whites and blues instead of the usual reds and browns. The snow also plays a role in gameplay: in an effort to keep the player moving forward, enemies and certain environmental objects will drop Thermal Energy (T-Eng for short) that automatically depletes over time and can be used to heal your character outside of a VS.

The character and enemy designs are quite nice as well, everyone (except of course the standard oversexed female characters) are desgined like they are trying to keep warm in the cold, and the Vital Suite designs have a nice "low-fi" weathered look to them as opposed to a sort of highly stylized appearance. The Akrid deserve a special mention. The alien design in the game is spectacular, they all look like they evolved from the same common ancestor, but at the same time take on wildly varied shapes and sizes: from smaller human sized enemies to massive enemies and bosses that tower over even the Vital Suits.

The game is also fairly short. Steam says I spent 12 hours all told going through the single player campaign, while my save file within the game itself reports half that time. While that might not appeal to some, it was just the right amount of game for what it was.

In terms of what the game could have done better: The controls felt very dated, none of the controller layouts felt particularly natural, and a very important move such as "dashing" to avoid attacks was a button combo hidden behind completely useless "crouch" and only slightly less useless "jump" buttons. You get used to it as you play, but you wonder what they were thinking.

The T-Eng system mentioned above was definitely a mixed bag. It was something you only sort of had to think about as you played through a level, it was entirely possible to end a mission with a ton of T-Eng and never really feel any pressure to keep moving. Sometimes, however, you could enter a boss fight with too little T-Eng, effectively "soft-locking" yourself into having to restart an hour long mission because you cannot pilot mechs or fire certain energy weapons without a T-eng pool to draw from. Luckily the system tended to the prior problem than the latter, but it was definitely annoying when it felt like the game was punishing you for not knowing how much more level you had left.

The story is barely even worth mentioning. Its outright bad. Its also presented in a very dated format where there is almost no story during gameplay, then you get hit with a 5-6 minute often boring cutscene with an info dump that doesn't make any sense, then its back to the gameplay. Look away for a minute and good luck, you're totally lost. Watch everything, and good luck, you're a bit less lost. Characters get introduced out of nowhere, non-sensical plot twists abound, wooden voicework... its like a textbook example of how not to write or present a story in videogames.

Then there are the Vital Suits. The gameplay in general is quite entertaining and there is a solid amount of weapon variety, but the VS suits (while fun) definitely lacked variety. There were plenty of different suits, but aside from 3-4 suits, most VS battles involved slowly pacing back and forth and trading blows with the enemy until one of the suits blows up. My favorite suite was definitely the one with thrusters that allowed gliding or hovering over the battlefield, as it actually provided an opportunity to dodge attacks.

All in all, a fun old shooter game that really feels like an old 2D platformer translated into a 3D setting. A lot of the bad guys even have literal glowing red/orange weakspots to target. This game can often be had for some change at this point, will run well on entry level gaming computers (my GTX 1050 laptop ran this locked at 60FPS), and will entertain but not overstay its welcome.
 
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nakedfrog

No Lifer
Apr 3, 2001
50,082
2,778
126
I don't know if it was just the KB/M controls or that and the story, but I put this one down after a few hours.
 

GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,415
837
136
I don't know if it was just the KB/M controls or that and the story, but I put this one down after a few hours.
I've picked up and put down this game a half dozen times before this recent run.

The game difficulty is not a consistent ramp up but kind of all over the place. The game also does not make it obvious or even logical in what you have to do to proceed. I had consistently put the game away previously when I got to the Giant worm on the 3rd level.

This time I did not shy away from guides and walkthroughs, which helped a LOT because there were a few times I would have just given up out of sheer frustration.

I tend to tell myself that games are made to be beatable, but there is definitely a category of game out there that is more interested in being a battle of wills against the player.

Lost Planet isn't too far in that direction (it's no lost souls) but it does take after the old Japanese gaming philosophy of winning by rote after you learn the patterns and weakspots due to repeated failure.
 

nakedfrog

No Lifer
Apr 3, 2001
50,082
2,778
126
I was packing stuff up last night, and I forgot I'd picked this up for PS3 during some GameStop sale for a few bucks (3 for $10 or something) :lol:
So I may yet revisit it. Funny timing with the thread posting and me running across a copy of it.
 

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