What We Know: Lost Planet was a hit for Capcom when it released nearly three years ago. It seemed to epitomize the publisher's approach to developing Japanese-made games designed with global appeal outside of native soil. It's a shooter that's good enough for Westerners, but also feels well-suited to gamers who can't wrap their heads around shooter mechanics. It also touted some fun, if not forgettable multiplayer.
From the time Capcom unveiled Lost Planet 2 a few months back, we've been hearing all about its co-op multiplayer experience. Allegedly, you can play through a great deal of the game with others. It's part of the difference between the first game and the new sequel, aside from a huge change in locale. The Akrid, the mineral-rich monsters of the first game, are back and as warped as ever. Their soft underbellies are filled with rich loot for you and your friends to snag.
What's New at TGS: Two co-op desert stages. Both are interconnected, but their contribution to the game's plot is still a mystery. I played as part of a group of desert pirates who are lost and in search of thermal energy that will power them for a long time. The pirates run into an encampment full of enemies, as well as a train loaded up with some super weapons. They need that train in order to escape the desert, but also to gain the thermal energy stored onboard. The idea behind the first stage seemed to display an average co-op level, complete with strategic skirmish points, and general action. The controls feel largely similar to the first game, save for new armor and weapons. The armor feels like a middle ground between the heavy, laborious VS suits of Lost Planet and the dangers of running around a stage unprotected. You can run in it, it has a lot of protection, but you lose a little speed (not nearly as much as a VS suit). I also tried out a VS gun, which functions as the sci-fi equivalent of an .80 cal rifle. You can cover long distances, and they floor the competition.
The tools came in handy as my team faced two giant boss Akrid who were blind as bats, but just as resourceful with their hearing. As my teammates made noise, these one-story-tall creatures would use their sonar abilities to rush in with vicious attacks. Fortunately, the VS gun allowed me to keep some distance from them and land some devastating attacks. Eventually, we floored both of them.
In the second part of the demo, my pirate group boarded the train and tried to escape the desert. We ran into more pirates aboard the train, and had to blast our way through them. Mind you, the level was fraught with peril, since a few misguided steps or a badly timed jump led to instant death (and one of the most drawn-out death animations I've seen in a game in years). It all seemed okay until a Category G Akrid showed up. It's a monolithic Akrid worm that is huge enough to devour an entire train car (or three) in one bite.
The focus of the level shifted from one or two people capturing spawn points to all four players working to collect giant artillery shells to kill the G Akrid. And ultimately, we failed to kill it before the end of the demo.
What I Want to See: Hopefully, a Keyboard Cat video to accompany that death animation. Seriously, it's long, drawn out, and brutal to see yourself fall off a speeding train, hit your head on the rails, and tumble through the dirt repeatedly as you wait to respawn. Ideally, I'm interested in seeing more co-op missions, and hopefully, they're a little less convoluted than this one -- the second demo stage felt rather Monster Hunter-inspired, since it required as many hands on deck as possible -- but it didn't quite fall together as well as I'd like. So far, I love the idea of bringing four-player co-op to Lost Planet, but the execution needs a little extra panache to completely sell me. That said, Capcom's still got time to work it out.