Also On: PS3, PC
Developer: Spark Unlimited
I’m having a hell of a time figuring out who Lost Planet 3 is even for. Outside of the setting, terminology, mech, and a grappling hook, this feels as far removed from the series as Lost Planet 2 did to 1. Why was it so hard for Capcom to capitalize on the good elements of the original Lost Planet? That’s certainly hard to say, and clearly they didn’t figure it out with Lost Planet 3.
Instead, you’ve got a tepid, paint by numbers third person shooter that just so happens to take place on the same ice filled planet as the first game. You’ll take on the role of Jim Peyton, a new arrival to the harsh landscape of E.D.N. III, a sort of everyman that’s just looking to bring home some money to support his new family. This is the one element that Lost Planet 3 excels at, which is selling us on how likeable and affable Jim Peyton is as a person. He’s pretty far removed from your typical grim and gruff shooter protagonist, and while certainly not goofy or often humorous, he feels far more down to earth than you’d expect.
A lot of that comes from the excellent voice acting on display throughout Lost Planet 3. This doesn’t apply only to the character of Jim Peyton, but to the majority of the characters introduced throughout. There’s a natural element to the dialogue that’s rarely captured in video games not developed by Naughty Dog, and it’s the characters that’ll keep you coming back to finish Lost Planet 3 long after the actual game wears out its welcome.
It’s a shame that the rest of Lost Planet 3 isn’t up to snuff. There are some underlying elements here that showcase a hint of promise, but it’s never executed upon in meaningful ways. Take Jim’s Rig for example, a giant, industrialized mech that bucks the trend of typical mecha in that it’s not outfitted with missiles and machine guns. Instead you’ve got a drill, a big fist, and eventually a giant blowtorch as your limited means of defense against the bug-like Akrid that roam E.D.N. III. While this limited arsenal could potentially give way to intriguing encounters, you’ll quickly discover that most battles while manning the Rig are identical regardless of the foe, with combat devolving into a glorified rock ‘em sock ‘em robots fight on screen.
This holds true for the on-foot combat as well. There’s some waist-high cover mechanics culled from Gears of War, with a weapon loadout that doesn’t feel particularly futuristic or inventive. You’ll gain access to some more unique weapons midway through, but at that point it feels like too little too late. Encounters against Akrid consist of rolling around while they charge in, and unloading clip after clip until they explode into a pile of orange T-Energy, used to purchase upgrades in between missions. The only time Lost Planet 3 shows a glimmer of promise in its shootouts is with the occasional boss fight, of which there’s only a handful present, and a few of them are put on repeat throughout the campaign.
Another area where Lost Planet 3 shows promise but ultimately fails is with exploration. This isn’t a strict mission by mission story fueled adventure, and allows for some free navigation between sections of an overworld map. But there’s little to see and do outside of a small number of side quests, and traversing each area either on foot or in your Rig feels slow and laborious. There’s a fast travel option that opens up eventually, but even that comes with needless restrictions on when and where it can be used.
I really have a hard time mustering up much emotion in regards to Lost Planet 3. It’s a non-memorable experience from head to toe, unable to disappoint due to limited expectations, while doing absolutely nothing to propel it past its predecessors. It’s not a bad game at first glance, and you probably won’t look at it as a waste of time if you decided to purchase or rent it. But once it’s finished you’ll never feel compelled to pull it off the shelf again, and in a scant couple years you’ll have a hard time remembering that someone even made a Lost Planet 3.