'Lost Planet 2' Review - The Antithesis Of Accessibility

Lost Planet 2

The original "Lost Planet" was far from perfect, but it offered some of the best graphics yet seen on the Xbox 360, and it laid the groundwork for an alien-hunting franchise with some definite promise. For some reason, in between the original game and today's release of "Lost Planet 2," things went terribly wrong. Let's explore why.

The Basics

The events in "Lost Planet 2" take place on the same planet as the first game, just ten years in the future. Despite the relatively small gap in time, the planet has seen a major climate shift, with snowy wastelands replaced by arid deserts and lush jungles.

The changing climate has only intensified the power struggle between the different forces on E.D.N. III, and players will get to see this struggle from a handful of different perspectives throughout the campaign, which can be played in co-op online with up to 3 other players.

In addition, "Lost Planet 2" features a wide range of adversarial multiplayer modes and maps, with some additional character customization on top of the basics offered in "LP1."

The Highs

Slick Environments

Like the original "Lost Planet," "Lost Planet 2" looks fantastic. Amazingly pretty environments with varied landscapes make for an impressive technical display. And because the climates shift so dramatically from chapter to chapter, the game remains visually fresh and interesting to look at.

Giant Boss Fights

The best moments of the first game often involved battling ridiculously huge creatures, and "Lost Planet 2" manages to trump every one of those fights. There are moments throughout the game where you'll be battling creatures with toes (or toe-equivalents) the size of your entire body. Their size only makes it more rewarding when you manage to take one of these creatures down and they shower dozens of loot boxes upon you.

The Lows

Inaccessibility Defined

There is so much going on in "Lost Planet 2" that would only make sense to the developers who created it. Simply starting the game requires that you stumble through several menu screens involving game "hosting," even if you just want to play on your own.

Once the game actually starts up, the HUD is filled with so much inane data that players will need to keep the manual handy just to figure out what everything means. What's a B-Gauge? Good question! That actually represents the number of lives you have before you have to restart at the beginning of the chapter. So, I don't know, why not call it Lives? Or Reinforcements? There are so many abbreviations spattered throughout "Lost Planet 2" that they deserve their own guide on GameFAQs, and all they seem to do is confuse the player.

And then there's the story, which should be ignored at all costs. The game hops between several factions spread across the planet, which means you have no attachment to any of the characters, and with each faction brings its own confusing nomenclature and unfortunate voice talent.

The Controls

The controls in "Lost Planet 2" are poor. They're unintuitive, confusing and are extremely good at taking you out of the action. There are eight different control variants to choose from and none of them seem to follow any normal third-person action game conventions, which will probably leave you scratching your head trying to figure out how to reload.

The Lack of Fun

One of the most common objectives you'll come across in "Lost Planet 2" involves "Activating Data Posts." I think I activated 50 or 60 data posts throughout the course of the campaign, and each one required a tedious button mash. Why not just have players hold down a button to activate a post? Or simply get rid of the posts all together?

Even when you're doing more interesting activities, like piloting mechs or battling giant monsters, the stiff controls and animations take all the fun out of trying the futuristic tech in the game. A punishing difficulty level on anything but the easiest setting intensifies the frustration, as you'll get sent back several full levels if you find your B-Gauge depleted.

No Drop-in, Drop-Out

The addition of co-op to the "Lost Planet" franchise was a good move, but without drop-in, drop-out play, it makes the process way more cumbersome than it needs to be. Players need to quit out of their current chapter to add someone, and you can't even change the settings of a co-op game once you've hosted it. Let's say you're all in the lobby and you realize you want to play a different map? Sorry, you all have to back out and re-host the lobby. In this day and age, that's simply inexcusable.

Admittedly once the game starts, everything runs fine without significant lag, but the barrier to entry is sure to scare off a lot of players.

The Verdict

All of the above issues carry over in the different modes in the game, and combine to make "Lost Planet 2" a release to avoid. The game is so inaccessible that it almost feels like an intentional attempt to alienate huge swaths of gamers, and even when you figure out what everything on the screen means, you're still left with something that's not fun to play.