Once considered an important new franchise for next gen hardware, Lost Planet has struggled to keep itself in the public eye through recent years. Since it launched as one of the prettiest early Xbox 360 games, Lost Planet has tumbled from AAA international hit to a forgotten franchise. In fact, Lost Planet had such cache that it was one of a very few titles that was on its way to the silver screen. You can blame an underwhelming sequel or an outdated publisher, it doesn’t matter because Lost Planet is barely afloat these days.
Lost Planet 3 is the oft-delayed third episode in the saga that returns gamers to the snowy confines of E. D. N. III. Instead of the jungles seen in Lost Planet 2, the developers were smart enough to realize where their bread was buttered -- in the snow covered hills. Lost Planet 3 loves its snowy confines; so, get your snow boots ready, there’s snow men to build!
After playing through Lost Planet 3, there’s definitely some good news for those of you considering checking it out. The storytelling in Lost Planet is some of the best in recent months and better than most sci-fi games on the market. Focusing on Jim Peyton, a lowly mech operator, Lost Planet 3 pulls the heart strings as the man tries to keep his family going a million miles away from home. I was shocked at the emotional connections I made with Jim and his family. It’s not everyday that a game comes along and makes me connect with the narrative and Lost Planet 3 does a great job of it.
As I was playing through, I constantly thought to myself, “Lost Planet 3 should be the screenplay for the eventual movie adaptation.” Hell, the way this narrative worked, Lost Planet 3 may have been the screenplay modified to fit a game. The story here was that entertaining and well-written. However, it is an absolute shame at how the gameplay does not live up to the excellent storytelling.
In the gameplay department, Lost Planet 3 feels derivative and repetitive. Like the previous games, players are asked to battle alien monsters with glowing tails and limbs to progress to the next physical puzzle. Everything seems way too dependent on the designs of the earlier games and there’s not much in the way of innovation. Not only that, but the levels feel far too confined and the enemies will often clip through the surrounding borders. Lost Planet 3 plays like the developer just borrowed the cliffs notes on the first two games and copied that text as their gameplay. I wouldn’t call it lazy, just too much of the same.
The only real new element to the gameplay that I liked was the ever-present darkness in the environments. Unlike the previous games, Lost Planet 3 gives legitimate scares. While I wasn’t as affected as I was with Dead Space or Condemned, there are some incredibly creepy instances that reminded me of some of the best horror games. This was a nice new direction for the series, too bad it was always followed up by a battle with a generic T-ENG enemy.
If you’re looking for a silver lining, the best I can provide is that Lost Planet 3 shows that the fiction here has a lot of potential. If Capcom was willing, there could be a movie or a mini-series worth making. The narrative is strong, the snow planet is a wonderful backdrop, and the characters are intriguing. Unfortunately, they keep on botching the actual game within the story. That seems to be a common issue challenging this publisher and I don’t expect it will change before the finally go belly-up. Unless they’re willing to pass this license to a better developer, fans of the stories will be stuck with great stories bungled by mediocre games.
This review is based off of a publisher supplied copy of Lost Planet 3 for the PlayStation 3.