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Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
Platform: Xbox 360
“You’re a big man, but you’re out of shape. With me it’s a full time job. Now behave yourself.”
If you’ve seen Michael Caine in Get Carter, you’ll remember the line. The message? Even if you think you’re tough, don’t mess with the professionals, and messing with the professionals is exactly what Capcom has done here. Lost Planet is a big game, but it is out of shape, and when you’re up against the likes of iD, Valve, Epic, Monolith and Infinity Ward, that’s guaranteed to make sure you get a pasting.
What a shame. Keiji Inafune, the brains behind MegaMan and Onimusha, wanted to blend Capcom’s Japanese house style with the Western 3D shooter, and to some extent that’s exactly what he has done. From the Capcom side of things, Lost Planet brings us excellent character and creature design, masses of cut-scenes and some hugely impressive boss battles. Visually, it’s nothing short of stunning. It takes guts to set a whole game on a desolate, icy world, but Lost Planet transforms it into a place of genuine spectacle and very real danger. The weather effects are superb, the blinding glare that reflects off the snow is one of the finest uses of HDR we’ve seen, and the wrecked architecture occasionally gives Gears of War a run for its money. Amazingly, things just get better the more you go on, with dazzling underground scenes where the insectoid Akrid have made their homes, and dramatic vistas en-route to a volcano base full of rippling lava and heat haze. All in all, Lost Planet sits comfortably with the 360’s finest visual achievements.
The Akrid, meanwhile, are a triumph. I’ve lost count of how many games owe Starship Troopers a heavy debt, but Lost Planet improvises on the basic themes in ways that make you forget Paul Verhoeven’s movie ever existed. Even the meanest grunts are fascinating – each with a weak point that proves the key to dispatching them – while the larger entities, all spinning spines, scorpion stings and razor claws, would make decent bosses in any other game. In this game, however, normal bosses wouldn’t do. Monumental beasts with armoured carapaces and an arsenal of acid-spitting, ice-breathing weaponry, Lost Planet’s head honchos fill the screen with a bluster we’ve not seen since Resident Evil 4. If you want proof that nobody does baddies better than Capcom, Lost Planet is it.