Lost Planet 3 – game review
Lost Planet series has always been an underachiever at best. Even though presented and always promoted as a AAA title, but somehow the game ends up being cursed to becoming just another 3rd person shooter which world will soon forget. This time a new developer takes the reigns of the franchise and even though we get to see substantial change (for better or worse) from previous two games but it ends up being mediocre at best just like previous games in the series.
This time story is set before the events of first two games. So, we are set in early days of E.D.N. III, the frozen planet where our game takes place. Human colonies are yet new on this planet and you play role of a believable freelancer who is out on this planet to make an honest back to support his family. The story doesn’t put you in a grand struggle from the beginning as other games did but slowly you will start to explore and find dark secrets about your employer. The game’s family touch is nice and gives the otherwise slow paced story a nice “human” touch.
Gameplay wise, for initial many hours the game feels unique as well as monotonous and boring. The reason being that you don’t get to jump into action but work out like a real job. The game replaces the modernized and weaponized mechs with “Rigs” in this game which are mechs but have drilling and grappling hands for work purpose mainly. You will be fixing pumps, setting up protective barriers against storms, installing thermal posts etc. While the game will remain less focused on action. This makes the game feel more like a chore, as if I was a mechanic on some remote oil rig. As a personal experience when I come back from office tired, I expect to have some fun and not do similar chores in virtual world to earn similar virtual credits for similar virtual wife. Although the gameplay felt unique doing these things, yet it was monotonous and you just wish that pace of game would pick up sooner.
Fighting giant (and small) Akrids is still as fun as ever. Although the gameplay felt more like generic 3rd person games rather than much faster LP1 and LP2. You have your grappling hook but there are only specific locations where it will work. The first person controls of rig even though meant for mining, provides a nice alternate to 3rd person shooting. In other games mechs are added just as a nice diversion but here your 50% of time would be spent inside the rig.
The game world is a mini open world, allowing you freedom to explore the icy tundra on your own but the game will feel very linear in its level and story design. The side quests are arbitrary and hold not much charm to do so. The paths to next target are spread out like breadcrumb which makes you feel like developers are spoon feeding you the directions so that you don’t go astray. Visually the levels look nice, powered by the unreal engine 3. Some spiked hills and sky scenes are really beautiful to look at, but at most times its nothing to rave about or nothing that you have never seen before. The GUI on other hand leaves much to be desired, from simplistic menu to humongous crosshair are just not cut out for a modern day game.
My biggest complain with the PC version of the game is the key layout. Its just weird that how a game which can be played with 4 keys on controller asks you to utilize the whole keyboard for actions. And the default key layout is pain in the ass. Ideally everything should be around your WASD keys and one key like E or F should be for use/pickup but developers choose to use “E” key for normal use, “T” key for some other various uses, “V” key for repairing, and “P” key for picking up item. Just look down at your keyboard and see the distance between WASD and P key and you will realize how idiotic it is for players to pick up ammo etc during mid-fights with the “P” key. Whereas “E” would have been enough for all actions based on context. Similarly when inside Rig, “T” will swing your arm for melee attack where as when on foot melee attack is on “B”. Your map or task log opens with BackSpace instead of the closer button Tab or M. Your closer “Q” button remains mapped to “turn 360″ a button which PC gamers never need, people with controllers only need quick turning. Its all pretty weird as if no developer actually played on a keyboard to see what mess they made. Although customizing the controls is an option but I had pretty slim luck with it as it will just give you errors of key already mapped and doesn’t overwrite properly key setting, in the end forcing me to use “Set to Default” and learn the keys what game had set for me.
Overall the game felt like a real mediocre effort. I was although impressed by the innovative “work” focused gameplay at start but they made it so monotonous that it became boring. Fighting different type of Akrids still remain as fun as ever and I was hoping they would enhance that fun element with more grappling action, sadly that wasn’t the case. The character themselves are interesting but the overall story was nothing special. The controls are fine but keyboard mapping as explained is horrible for smooth gameplay. The game has some standard multiplayer modes to extend life of the game but nothing that stands out as mentionable. In the end it felt like that each good part of the game came with something horrible to tone it down. Lost Planet is still a franchise which has the full potential to rise as a remarkable 3rd person game but sadly its not there yet.