Lost Planet 2 is like a cute, eager-to-please puppy with horrible breath. It’s giddy, silly, enthusiastic, and really really wants you to be happy, but alas, it comes with an inherent flaw which makes the good times a bit of a slog to get to. But we’ll come to that soon enough. First up, the basics.
Lost Planet 2 is a Big Dumb Action Game, with a major focus on multiplayer co-op. If it had been released in the ‘80s it would be Contra. If it was a movie, it would be Predator. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that. BDAGs are what gaming was built upon, and it’s actually bloody refreshing to play one as balls-out dedicated to the cause as LP2.
Above: If you respond well to this image, please read on
If the idea of standing on the roof of a speeding train, blasting the living crap out of mechs and rocket turrets using a hand-held Gatling gun big enough to make Jesse Ventura feel like half a man is appealing, then there are some truly awesome times to be had in Lost Planet 2. If it doesn’t, you probably won’t enjoy it at all. But then again, you probably don’t enjoy life either.
It’s the third-person shooter in its purest form. No lock-to-cover system, no stealth kills, no moral choices. Just big guns, big explosions and enemies so big that they’re not far off having their own gravitational pull. Spare weapons of every shape and size (though usually huge) litter every square inch of the game, giving its levels the look of the morning after a piss-up in a munitions factory. You’ll rarely walk three feet without finding a mech, flying machine or set of power armour you can pilot if the need takes you, and all handle with enjoyably deft slickness, meaning that destruction and the variety of ways you can unleash it are in constantly high supply.
Above; A genuine Capcom LP2 design note that we didn't make up
Lost Planet 2’s one concession to anything other than pure killing is its grappling hook system. Here, you simply aim and tap X or Square (depending on your console of choice) to zip up to higher areas and flanking routes at multiple levels of verticality.
It’s a simple, one-shot trick, with absolutely zero potential for comboing (you can’t even grapple mid-jump) but regardless it’s a cool and satisfying tool to use, and one that opens up a great deal of smooth, on-the-fly tactical play once you get up to speed on manoeuvring with it during combat. And you’ll need to master that verticality if you’re really going to get the best out of Lost Planet 2. Make no mistake, this game’s main reasons to be are vast spectacle and massive set-pieces, in a very literal sense. As shown below...
Above: The Akrid bosses are frigging huge, and yes, you have to kill them all
For what is essentially a linear, A-to-B shooter, Lost Planet 2 is actually a pleasingly open experience. Surprisingly so, in fact. While the core gameplay is usually a straightforward kill-fest, LP2’s levels frequently make use of branching routes, and even sometimes completely different paths to a main objective, in order to provide different members of co-op teams with completely different experiences.
And beyond that, certain end-of-level set-pieces are built entirely with non-linear squad-play in mind, playing more like pure multiplayer deathmatch arenas than traditional campaign events. An early assault on an enemy mine, for instance, actually plays out as an objective-based team game, as your squad blitzes AI soldier after AI solider in a multi-levelled circular arena while trying to lock down and hold certain key control points for a set period of time.
It’s spontaneous, it’s exciting, it’s totally open to player-interpretation and it never plays out the same way twice. At their best, these sections really elevate Lost Planet 2 beyond the completely funneled experiences most other shooters are offering right now.