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Lost Planet: Extreme Condition: No Cold Shoulder

Company: Capcom

One of the more pleasant surprises to come out of Microsoft’s E3 Live demos was Lost Planet: Extreme Condition. Even more surprising than it's popularity was the fact that, when pressed, few could explain why they liked the game so much. Maybe it was the amazing visuals or perhaps the return of old school run and gun mechanics. Regardless of the reasons, anticipation has been running high for the game ever since.

Set sometime in the future, Lost Planet casts you in the role of Wayne, a soldier suffering from amnesia stuck in a frozen world. To make matters worse, a group of aliens known as the Akrid, have invaded the planet, forcing the few remaining humans to band together in small groups. Your only memory is of an Akrid killing your father, leading you to hook up with a group of pirates in search of revenge. Of course, things with the pirates aren’t that great – so you’ll find yourself fending off rivals as much as you will aliens.

Action in Lost Planet rides the fence between a 3rd-person action game and a mech game. At different parts of the game, you’ll find yourself running through snow-covered streets and in dark corridors all the while stomping out Akrid nests and fighting off other pirates. Gameplay is oddly reminiscent of Bionic Commando, though that could just be the grappling hook talking. As you explore the area, you’ll come across a variety of weapons, some of which are used to power up your Vital Suit, or VS, a giant exoskeleton.

While on foot, your main weapon is a machine gun and some grenades. As you kill enemies, they’ll drop bits of orange thermal energy, which act as health. The catch is that since you’re on a frozen planet, your health is constantly dropping because of the freezing conditions. At first, it sounds like a stupid idea that could ruin the fast-paced gameplay, but enemies aren’t in short supply, so there’s always health available (provided you’re not a complete dolt when it comes to combat). Most combat seems to take place in cramped areas, though you’ll see your fair share of outdoor environments as well – especially when using a VS.

Playing in a mech is a different experience than on foot. The biggest difference is the VS’s boosters, which allow a little more upward mobility, and guns that can move independently of each other, giving you better range. Another cool aspect is that if you find that you have to traverse an area where the VS simply won’t fit, you can remove one of the mech’s mounted guns and use it (in addition to your machine gun). Guns can also be attached to other mechs, lending a bit of customization.

When not facing off against bugs, you’ll also find resistance in the form of pirates who are also trying to make the best of the frozen climate. Going up against pirates offers a completely different challenge than when going against bugs. What they lack in speed and numbers they make up for with firepower and tactics. Pirates have access to all of the weapons you have, including their own suits, so expect to see yourself on the other end of the VS’s independently firing guns.

Lost Planet also features multiplayer modes. Four modes are included: Elimination, Team Elimination, Fox Hunt and Post Grab. Elimination and Team Elimination are essentially Deathmatch modes, but with a slight twist. Rather than being judged on kill counts, you are judged on points which are earned by capturing posts or killing.

Capturing posts adds another twist to gameplay by allowing you to see nearby opponents on your radar, making control a vital part of both the solo and team-based versions.

Fox Hunt is a strange mode, but one that could end up being one of the more popular modes once the game ships. At the start of a match, one player is “it” while the others are hunters. The object is to gain points by killing the hunters or capturing posts, both of which prove difficult when you have a server full of people gunning for you.

Finally, Post Grab is a simple “Capture the Territory” game. Here teams vie for control of posts on the map. The team in control of the most posts when time runs out wins. It isn’t anything overly complicated or deep, but fun.

Visually, Lost Planet is one of the more impressive looking 360 games and it keeps getting better with each build shown. Levels are giant and filled with all the little touches, like falling snow and wind that help bring a game to life. Even small details, like machine parts, are completely animated and have a good feel to them.

Without question, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is one of 2007’s more highly anticipated 360 releases and it isn’t hard to see why. It has all of the visual flair you would want from a next-generation game while also delivering the gameplay of an old style shooter. Look for a review within the coming weeks.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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