Lost Planet 2 Hands-On Campaign ImpressionsBy Sterling McGarvey - Posted Apr 15, 2010
Although Lost Planet 2 utilizes similar mechanics to its 2007 predecessor, it feels like a dramatically different approach to Capcom’s series. On the surface, it seems rather obvious, based on the aesthetic transition from frosty tundra to wet jungles, but at its roots, this sequel has taken a turn toward another popular Capcom franchise; at least, a Capcom franchise that's wildly popular in Japan. I invested some time in a late build of LP2, and while my disc doesn’t represent the complete product you’ll have a chance to play in a little over a month, I’ve gleaned one fairly indisputable observation from it: Bring some friends over, or find some online. You probably won't want to go through this one alone.
Though the first game had a passable plot, Capcom seems to have decided to make the sequel less character-driven and more like Monster Hunter, at least from my impressions. If the big raids and swords are a turnoff, but the idea of teaming up with three other people to tackle big battles is appealing to you, then you’ll feel cozy with what’s at hand. Lost Planet 2 seems much less plot-driven than its predecessor and more focused on creating set pieces that will force you to work alongside your compatriots to get from spot to spot. The action opens up in the snowy locales of E.D.N. III, but quickly shifts to newer geography.
I’ve never had much of a taste for playing Monster Hunter in solitude, and the transition from a focused single-player story to a multiplayer-centric game is one that I’m still not completely sold on at this point. Capcom's focus seems to be lasered in on creating a sense of playing online throughout the experience, and from what I've played, it includes simulating some of the less pleasant aspects. Pausing the game (yes, pausing the game) is an ordeal, at least in this build. I got up to fix myself something to drink while the timer counted down between stages and it booted me back to the start menu without saving. I'm not thrilled. For now, I'll attribute it to having an incomplete build, but if these features make the final product, it'll be infuriating.
Once you're in the action, Lost Planet 2's campaign loads you up with objectives that'll force you to work in tandem with friends. Granted, there's no shortage of big monster takedowns, but there are a lot of environmental scenarios that will push you and friends to tackle together. As partners, the A.I. doesn't come off as overly dimwitted, though there were times I wish they'd prioritized attacking an energy-sapping sniper instead of a less-threatening grunt.
In one early mission, I was tasked with destroying a mining factory by overloading the core machine. It was a two-tiered operation, as my A.I. cohorts and I had to activate six power cores to turn on the operation. Easier said than done, of course, since each core was guarded by heavily armed guards and lethal turrets. After a few minutes of back and forth battles (and some teeth-gritting shootouts), I was able to get all six cores up and running. With the machine running, the gameplay shifted to a "defend the base" style scenario, in which I and my A.I. pals needed to guard four giant drills as they bored their way to a massive system overload that would bring down the mine. Waves of enemies jumped out to deactivate the drills as we fought to keep them active for 90 seconds.
Despite the passable teammate A.I., Lost Planet 2 comes off as even more multiplayer-driven than I'd ever anticipated from Capcom. We're still about a month off, but based on what I've played, I find myself questioning if the team's focus on a Monster Hunter-like multiplayer experience hasn't come at the complete expense of a much more interesting single-player campaign. I don't doubt that plenty of gamers will enjoy what Lost Planet 2 offers them, their friend on the couch, and a few more buddies online. But if you're a gamer who likes kicking back and playing through games solo, be warned.