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Friday, January 19, 2007

Game Review - Lost Planet:Extreme Condition

Since Lost Planet: Extreme Condition was announced for the Xbox 360, I have been anticipating it, thinking what a great game it would be when it is released. With huge monsters for you to slaughter and several futuristic weapons up for grabs, Lost Planet cannot be straying too far from a winning formula, right? Read on to uncover the answer.

Firstly, Lost Planet is a fairly unique game by the fact that you need to gather thermal energy (known as T-ENG in the game) in order to survive – it even helps fill your life-bar if it has been drained! Your constantly depleting supply of T-ENG can be replenished by killing enemies and destroying fuel tanks. Although I must admit that this certainly adds a bit of a challenge to the overall game, I find it to be more of a hindrance. Yes, it forces you to move forward and continue killing enemies instead of waiting around – in that way, yes, the gathering of T-ENG is meant to include additional action to the game. However, in boss fights, where you will most probably concentrate only on the beast in your foreground, the gathering of T-ENG becomes an irritating affair.

Lost Planet takes place on the planet known as E.D.N III, which is infested by an insect-like alien life form called the Akrid. There is a huge variety of them to go around. From small little harmless flying Akrids to the magnificent, yet enormous and intimidating spider Akrid, Lost Planet has almost anything you can think of. The game does a good job of introducing new Akrid types as you progress further into the game. Of course, several cool weapons make their appearance in this game as well. Ranging from the common ones like shotgun and machine gun to interesting ones like the plasma gun and plasma rifles, Lost Planet has a large arsenal of weapons for you to wield. And that is not forgetting the vital suits (VSs), robots that the humans have manufactured to counter the Akird. The VSs, I must agree, definitely adds a whole lot of action into the game.

What I like about Lost Planet is that it offers numerous ways to tackle a given situation. For example, you can either hop into a VS to battle Akrids or do the job on foot. Or you could totally ignore the menace and run past the enemy. The pacing of the game is also spot-on. The first three missions could seem a little dull and enemies may put up little resistance, but hang on, and Lost Planet could be showing its true colors as the game progresses. I like the way missions grow more difficult and the action intensifying towards the end of the game.

Cut scenes are generously littered through the entire Lost Planet single-player campaign, and they are absolutely stunning. Although widely criticized by other game reviews on other gaming websites like IGN and Gamespot for being sense-less, I do not find the cut scenes, together with the storyline, to have no sense. In fact, they are one of the most intriguing, albeit convoluted, all the while attempting to dig you deeper into the game. Yes, it may be confusing to some, but just try to analyze the story a little further and you will get what Lost Planet is trying to tell you. It is a brilliant story, by the way.

Ending this game review without mentioning the smoke effects would be a sin. Almost every other game has pretty visuals, and so does Lost Planet, but few games could compare with Lost Planet when it comes to the smoke effects. It adds a good bit of intensity to the game. The smoke effects, beyond a shadow of doubt, are beautiful and they add realism to the game by conquering the entire screen just after a rocket or a missile or a grenade has been thrown as you. Explosions are nice to watch as well. Perhaps the only bad thing about this is that you cannot see where you are aiming at after the smoke rises.

However, it must be noted that Lost Planet has flaws too. It is known that Wayne can employ a grappling hook to climb surfaces, and that your aiming reticule will turn green if it touches an area that Wayne can hook on. What I loathe is that at times, the aiming reticule does not turn green even if the area can be hooked on. One assault from the enemy can also break the grappling hook, making it as a means of escape relatively useless.

Next, come the several consistencies in A.I. in Lost Planet. It is in part intelligent and challenging, in part simply stupid. While boss encounters offer quite a lot of challenge and some fights can be really frustrating, smaller Akrids you encounter throughout the entire single-player campaign are just plain stupid, offering little resistance and letting you shoot them to their graves. Human enemies also seem to be screaming “Target Practice!” Some stay rooted to their spot even when you are shooting at them! At other times, they may be running away from a grenade you threw at them. So is the A.I. smart or dumb? Well, the answer is both, and there you go – the problem of several inconsistencies in A.I. pops out. Lost Planet would have received a better score without it.

Nevertheless, Lost Planet, despite its shortcomings, is one great game that you MUST get. It is fun and being the first game for the Xbox 360 in 2007, it is unexpectedly awesome. The single-player campaign is going to last you a good 12 hours or so, and the multiplayer sessions are going to extend its replayability. Many achievements, including the shooting of target marks in each mission, are there for you to chase as well. Go get this game.

Overall score: 9.3/10

What’s good: Huge variety of enemies and weapons, numerous ways to tackle a situation, pacing of game is perfect, cut scenes are amazing and story intriguing, beautiful smoke effects

What’s not: Gathering of T-ENG is a hindrance, limited usage of the cool grappling hook, several inconsistencies in A.I.


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