While we’re moaning, let’s not forget the twits who plotted this one. The whole narrative arc is bewildering, with characters that switch sides suddenly, without motive or warning, and little chance of working out what the hell is going on despite exposition scenes that stretch out towards eternity. And – I know it’s a cheap shot – who came up with the names? A hero called Wayne? A female comrade called Basil? You can change the pronunciation, Capcom, but the subtitles never lie.
The overall effect is extremely frustrating. You can see all the components of a great game, but they’ve been assembled with little thought or feeling. If anything, it makes you appreciate the likes of Half Life 2, FEAR, Call of Duty 2 and Gears of War even more, because you can see how much better the levels are orchestrated; how these developers have learnt to create interesting spaces and fill them with enemies in order to create a real sense of tension and release, leaving you breathless with excitement. Lost Planet merely keeps you waiting for the game to get its ass into gear.
Some would have you believe that multiplayer is a different story, but even here it has to be said: it’s simply not that exciting. The levels are enormous, and there are options to fight for Battlefield-style control points or just eliminate the enemy, but the action lacks any real punch. Even though the setting, the VS suits and the heavy weapons give the game something extra over your standard deathmatch game, it’s all a bit slow-moving and oddly bloodless. It’s hard to believe anyone would prefer this to Gears of War, Ghost Recon or Call of Duty 3.
But that’s exactly the sort of competition this faces. I’d love to see Capcom have another crack; to marry its Eastern expertise with what is the definite Western genre, but if it does so it needs to go up a notch from this. It’s not that the skills aren’t there – Resident Evil 4 and Devil May Cry 3 prove that Capcom can do action as well as anyone – but Lost Planet shows little sign of them in application. And when you think of the work that has gone into so much of the visual design of this game that’s near enough a tragedy….
An astonishing looking 3D shooter that consistently fails to engage anything except the senses. Unless you’re desperate for a new fix of action, you’re better off with the big boys of the genre.