Axe's Lost Planet 2 Review
- Entertaining boss fights
- Excellent level design
- Inhumanly large amount of customization
- Solid mechanics
- Impressive, if not fantastic, visuals
- Gets repetitive fast
- Cloudy-at-best story
- Forgettable characters (because everybody that does anything is the player)
- Multiple cringe-worthy annoying sections
I played Lost Planet 2 with my friends back when it first came out. They had jobs and such and bought the game, but I didn't and I was apprehensive after the train wreck that is the first Lost Planet, so I went with a solid rent instead. I had fun, and I'm having fun with it now, but if I had paid any more than what I did a couple of months ago, I would have been furious. While it may not be great or all that innovative, there's a lot of game here to enjoy if you're able to look past your grievances.
Lost Planet 2 has interesting gameplay. It's a third-person-shooter at core, but you have something called thermal energy to keep track of. It was the first game's downfall from what I played of it, but here, it's handled well. Thermal energy is a resource you have to keep track of - if it reaches zero, you'll die. Allegedly, anyway. I've never died from running out in my couple dozen hours with the game. It's also used as ammunition in certain weapons and to repair the VSes (essentially small mechs that serve as the game's vehicles) when they take damage. You can share it between players and there are even stashes in crates hidden around the levels that require thermal energy to unlock. These usually have a strong weapon, armor, or ammunition to give you an edge against what you're facing. In addition to this, you also have a grappling hook-like... well, grappling hook that you can use to fight vertically. You can zip up 40 feet on top of a wall to get a vantage point, use it leap to safety if you get surrounded, or even (as I was extremely happy to find out) run off the edge of a platform and hang off the side. The combat itself rarely gets dull and the grappling hook makes for a fun way to move around the environment.
Customization is a core feature of Lost Planet 2. You can customize your character's appearance, with 6 factions who have their own unlockable sets of clothing and armor (although you have to complete the story to use your custom character). There's no shortage of creative design here and you'll find yourself consistently playing around with your options trying to find the best-looking combination you can. The weapons are also customizable, and they're handled differently than in most games. There are a few types of weapons - snipers, close-range, heavy weapons, grenades, et cetera - and you choose one of each type of weapon. In gameplay, the weapons that drop of the environment will be of one type, and they'll be whichever weapon you chose for that type, allowing everyone to use whichever weapons they choose and not have to worry about never getting a chance to use them. These weapons are unlockable as well, with plenty of options to choose from. Want a hand-cannon revolver instead of a shotgun? We've got you covered. Feel like having an assault rifle that allows you to do short melee combos with the sword on it? You're home free. Feel like tossing grenades that roll along the ground and pop up in a shower of fireworks and confetti? You can have them. There are also special support weapons, such as a deployable shield (literally just an unbreakable piece of cover you hold out in front of you like a riot shield) or a thermal energy-powered gun that heals whoever it shoots (for use in keeping your teammates alive). There are also a good number of abilities to choose from. The two you start out with allow you to not lose thermal energy over time and not die from having none, but I've long since stopped using them and never ran into trouble. While there isn't anything innovative or really novel, they're still fun to experiment with. There are also hundreds of titles to choose from, consisting of anything to pop culture references to bragging rights rewards to show off your skill with a certain weapon. These aren't quite as neat because they're the lions share of what you'll be unlocking. There are also emotes you can unlock and set. While these are fun, they aren't really much more novel than the titles and you can't be blamed for forgetting they're even there.
This brings us to how you unlock all these neat bells and whistles. In career mode (I haven't touched the competitive multiplayer because it just honestly sounds like a headache so I can't say for sure about whether this applies there) you earn Career Points for completing levels and performing well. There are also ? boxes that enemies, especially bosses, drop, which can have varying amounts of Career Points in them as a reward. For all intents and purposes Career Points are just experience points in the RPG-like progression system this game uses. As your factions level up, you'll get access to more appearance options, and you spend your accumulated CP on an in-game RNG-dictated slot machine to unlock everything else. Since there are so many titles, you'll only get titles for the vast majority of your spins until you've unlocked them all. I unlocked all the titles before I had unlocked even two new weapons. That's ridiculous and just pads out the time you'll be spending with the game, which doesn't need to happen since it's already fun enough on its own. Things get much more enjoyable once the titles are mostly unlocked, but getting there is an immense chore.
The enemies are oodles of fun to face off against. The human AI, while hardly the sharpest tool in the shed, isn't 100% completely braindead and isn't outright cheap either. The Akrid, huge wild beasts which serve as enemies, and the category-G Akrid, which serve as the bosses, are much more fun to fight than the humans in the game, and they're extremely well-designed. There are plenty of types to run into and do combat with, and the bosses are varied, interesting, and engaging, with no two relying on even remotely similar tricks. They're what you'll probably be playing the game for at all, and they're even more fun than you could hope for. While the Akrid are definitely done perfectly, it's disappointing that the standard regular ones don't appear more than they do (which is still a sizable presence). It would be fun to have sections where there are three-way fights between the players, the human enemies, and the Akrid, but there just isn't anything like that. It feels like a missed opportunity, but with all the other great enemies, you probably won't find yourself pining for even more enemies to face anytime soon.
The levels are varied and interesting, a welcome relief from the depressing sea of brown that's become a common trope in shooters these days. The environments are vibrant, full of life, and easy on the eyes. There's also enough sections that the developers must have went through a checklist of everything they could imagine - there's a jungle section, a fight through some city slums, a desert, a gigantic train, an underwater section, and even better ideas that I don't want to mention because you need to experience them for yourself. If you're tired of bland samey shooting galleries, Lost Planet 2 is a breath of fresh air. However, the excellence is marred by the numerous sequences that will have you sighing in anger and gritting your teeth. For example, there are sections where you have to hold out in one area and defend an objective, and while not done poorly, these are enough to make me avoid the levels they're in when I go back to play the game. They're just tedious and annoying. In addition, no matter how perfect the level design is, this game faces the problem that beats down all replayable games, and it's even more pronounced here: It gets repetitive. Fast. I love just about every part of the game to bits, but I drag my feet to return to it because everything is boring the 6th time through. Play anything more than a couple times and it starts to feel like a chore if you don't have friends to rampage through it with.
The story is completely forgettable, as expected of a boss fight-focused game designed for co-op. Apparently the ice age of the first game was ended when someone did something to release a gargantuan amount of thermal energy onto the world. Different factions, who were already having wars and conflicts anyway, began to fight for control of this, continuing the chaos enveloping the planet. Things were going badly, and then more category-G Akrid began awakening. What's the goal of any of the factions, or their members? After playing through at least 4 times, I still can't tell you. About two-thirds of the way through, things start condensing down and becoming a solid narrative, but that's hardly a consolation prize when nothing else makes sense. Most of the characters don't really have a personality, either. That's because most of the characters are played by the players, mind you, but it would be nice if they were complex enough to match the key roles they're playing in the conflict. Story is definitely not the focus here, but you should probably hit yourself if that's what you're looking into Lost Planet 2 for.
Is Lost Planet 2 a classic game? Hardly. Does it do anything different? Not really. Does that make it a bad game? No. There are some interesting things here, and it can keep you occupied for quite a long time if it's the type of thing you enjoy. It's decent at best, but sometimes decent is good enough. For full price, you should be insulted if this is what you got, but now that it's been a few years and the price has dropped so dramatically, there's no harm in picking it up if you feel like some cheap fun. It's easy to get enjoyment out of Lost Planet 2 and for 10 dollars (the price which I paid for it), it's hard to go wrong with it.
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