E3 2012: Lost Planet 3 Preview

As of late, Capcom has been handing off their franchises to western developers like candy. Bionic Commando, Dead Rising, Resident Evil and now Lost Planet. To be honest, this could be the best thing for the series as, while the first game was great, the second fell apart when it came to the core design principles of multiplayer and cooperative play. Whether or not it was the right choice to give Spark Unlimited, developers of the notoriously disappointing Turning Point and Legendary, the property is still up for debate. We’ll take a look at what they have been able to do with the frigid universe of Lost Planet.

We were instantly reminded of Dead Space when the demo began. The user interface and basic over the shoulder perspective looked as if it was ripped straight from a number of familiar games. If you’re a fan of the 360 degree turn radius from the previous Lost Planet titles, you’re going to be a bit disappointed. Twisting your torso in dynamic degrees has been replaced with strafing from left to right and walking backwards.

Jim, our protagonist, is able to carry a max of three different weapons: two two-handed weapons and one sidearm. A new weapon demonstrated was a bolt-action hunting rifle said to be passed down to Jim as a family heirloom. It’s a little out of place in the Lost Planet universe, especially considering this is far in the future and we have giant mechs and plasma rifles at our disposal, but it does remind us that E.D.N. III is not Jim’s home planet and it brings is a sense of sentimental value.

The rifle is a powerful weapon, but because it’s bolt action, it fires at a rather low rate. Health concerns are displayed as a traditional red glow along the edges of the screen, slowly encroaching upon Jim. Take too much damage and obviously you will die. How thermal energy will affect your character, on the other hand, is still up in the air. If you ran out of thermal energy in previous games, you would begin to die, requiring you to seek thermal outposts to recharge yourself. They did show Jim collecting thermal energy from a post, but whether or not it affects the gameplay and not just the story wasn’t mentioned.

Thermal energy is not the only thing that makes a reappearance as the akrid are back in full force, including returning “favorites” along with a couple of new additions to the bestiary. Expect huge epic boss battles with some of the most frightening creatures you’ll hope never come to life.

The mission we were introduced to features Jim investigating a post to recover thermal energy after another excavator went missing. Through the demo, Jim maneuvers inside the cramped cave (revealed to be an acrid nest), only to find audio logs from the previous adventurer. Akrids can quickly swarm you if you’re not careful and fall to their claws in a matter of moments. While mechs were not used in the demonstration, the developers assured us that there will be back in adequate parts of the game.

Lost Planet 3 is shaping up. While it may not revolutionize the genre, its dynamic weather conditions and western combat controls will at least keep it relevant. Expect to play it early next year.