Lost Planet 3 PS3 review – a good try that ices up where it counts
Oh Lost Planet 3. If you were a picture you’d be the Freddie Mercury ‘so close’ meme. Spark Unlimited tried, you really did. You paid attention to some other great games to try and work out why they were great. Well, okay, mainly Dead Space 2, but while made sure the mechanics were sound and the gameplay well executed there’s just a lack of magic. Everything works and there’s a passably enjoyable game here but one that lacks any real sparkle.
Lost Planet 3 PS3 review
A case in point in Capcom‘s shooter sees you besieged by spine-spitting monsters that force you to take cover behind crates, as they do the same, taking potshots at each other. It’s not that it doesn’t work (it doesn’t, the creatures are either out of cover spraying bullets or behind it forcing you to concentrate on partially hidden headshots) it simply doesn’t make sense. The world of E.D.N. III is meant to be filled with unique alien lifeforms, why are they acting like men with guns?
The actual gunplay is satisfying in terms of pulling the trigger but, as rule, marred by the enemies and combat. There are little facehugger things that aren’t much of a threat, they just get under your feet forcing an antsy toe-shooting circling, pointed at the floor as you try to track the little sods. It’s an oddly unnecessary annoyance too as just the slightest tweak to movement speed could have made these encounters more enjoyable. Elsewhere enemies are bullet-sponges making shootouts laborious.
The mech sections are also a mix of fun and labour. When you’re not trekking around Lost Planet 3′s Hoth-like ice bases, or wandering the tundra, you’re stomping around in a first person robot suit. It has its high points: the feeling of being inside a huge robot is well executed but then spoiled by the fact that the areas you explore are small arenas separated by constant loading. Using your claws to break ice and move machinery like meaty power loader is great. Fighting tiny monsters with slow, ponderous metal paws? Not so much.
For most of my time playing Lost Planet 3 I found myself wanting it to be better and to enjoy it more but finding the game never quite giving me enough to work with. There are numerous boss battle encounters – from repetitive mini-bosses to full sized set pieces – that are all variations of ‘shoot the orange bit’. It’s a pedestrian mechanic that’s well over used within the first few hours.
For most of my time playing Lost Planet 3
I wanted to like it more but found the
game never giving me enough to work with
It’s not all terrible. The location is a beautifully atmospheric place with great lighting and a truly admirable sense of inhospitable abandonment. There are occasionally touching interchanges between the lead, Jim Peyton, and his wife via long range video messages, and the Country and Western playlist she sends as a soundtrack seems an odd choice but works.
There are inconsistencies even in the performances though. Cutscenes seem to slip between well acted, nuanced sections and muppet-mouthed interactions where lifeless characters robotically bark mission objectives, sometimes apparently in completely different voices. It’s a jarring jump, as if the better performed section were cut last minute and replaced with barely animated replacements cobbled together at the last minute. When I first saw the game well over a year ago there was a beautifully understated pathos; weary characters that felt like oil rig workers trying to make a buck rather than space men battling aliens.
None of that seems to have made the final cut. The Nostromo-like vibe I originally experienced has been replaced with functional objective updates and some of the worst accent stereotyping you’ve ever likely to hear: a Frunchmun, an Amarykeen, some sort of Australasian and someone I think is meant to be Canadian from all the ‘heys?’ thrown in at the end of every sentence.
It all adds up to something that’s functional and at times enjoyable, but in a derivative way that rarely stands out. This has studied better games well and worked hard to reproduce them only without the feel. And it is a shame because in places there’s a tangible sense of something that could have been more – a whiff of lost atmosphere and soul that haunts the game rather than makes it.