The wind kicking up snow, combined with the painful glare, makes both seeing and breathing difficult. The fence to your right is crumbling in the brutal conditions. You have to remind yourself of the sheer drop on the other side. Best to avoid going anywhere near it. Out of the flurry looms a broken down hanger, a welcoming haven that appears just in time to save your life. Your heat reserves are down to single figures.
Out of the snow bursts dozens of giant armoured insects. They thunder towards you, through the air and across the frozen ground. You smile as you unload round after round, grenade after grenade, into the clacking, buzzing throng. Shelter can wait; the smell of death brings a more thrilling warmth.
A year after it appeared on the Xbox 360, Capcom’s icebound third person shooter is finally delivered to PS3 owners. And the wait has been worth it because what you get is an atmospheric and polished game.
In Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions you take the part of Wayne. Wayne and his father are part of a group of colonists on the ice planet of EDN 3. These are old school colonists who believe that if any indigenous life shows any signs of aggression, or if they posses any commodity of value, then they should be wiped out of existence. Unfortunately for Wayne and his dad the indigenous life on EDN 3 is the Akrid. The Akrid are vast swarms of flying and crawling insects that range in size from big, to very big indeed. In essence the colonists get a beating but, on a more personal level, Wayne barely escapes with his life after an enormous armoured cockroach kills his father. When he recovers he finds most of the people gone. However, with the help of a few remaining colonists, he sets out to get revenge on the Akrid scourge that has so wronged him.
So in Lost Planet you take control of Wayne, dead set on the destruction of the Akrid hives and the reclamation of EDN 3. The controls are all pretty familiar - move with the right stick and aim with the left. R2 and L2 control your weapons while R1 and L1 give you a quick ninety-degree turn to the left or right. This set up works pretty well. There are generally not many problems relating to targeting because often swarms of Akrid attack. So generally all you have to keep an eye on is your ammo and health.
Health is measured in terms of thermal energy. When this hits zero, as you would expect, you die. You can harvest thermal energy from the insects you kill, also from blowing up the snowbound machinery or explosive barrels that our descendants always seem to leave lying around their off world colonies (I guess waste disposal will never really be sorted properly). So, health is easily managed throughout the game as unloading your shotgun, mini-gun or various grenades into a clutch of Akrid always leaves a tidy pool of thermal energy.
The single player campaign is split into a series of missions. A nicely played cut scene that moves the story along in an entertaining manner introduces each mission. However, even though the story shifts away from Wayne’s single-minded mission of destruction into the realms of corporate corruption, the action remains pretty much the same. Battle through bugs and the elements until you get to the hive where you basically have to kill everything that moves.
One aspect of the game that does add a bit of diversity to the proceedings is the use of the Virtual Suit. Taking control of the VS boosts both your firepower, with shoulder mounted cannons, and your melee strike, with a particularly nasty saw attachment. You have to be careful with your damage in the Virtual Suit however, and often you tend to find them, use them and discard them as they start to smoke and spark.
The graphics in Lost Planet are great. Smoke, sparks and the explosions (the litmus test for any next-gen game) are as good as it gets. As you would expect, the weather effects look great and it is clear that a lot of emphasis has been placed on getting the wind and snow just right. You spend a lot of time fighting your way through snow and moving from ankle deep slush to waist high drifts, and in game this is rendered beautifully. The sense of isolation and danger in the environment is perhaps the game’s major achievement.
Online play is also a major emphasis in the game. The single player campaign is not long but there are multi-player options to keep you busy. The game supports sixteen player matches that offer all the standard death matches and team events.
Going into Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions, you should expect a polished shooter with big guns and big beasties. It looks good, plays well and is a bit too short. But it assumes that the online content will make up for that. So provided you can figure out how to fire your gun while wearing your woollen mittens, Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions is as good a place as any to wipe out an indigenous species, meet new friends and freeze your butt off.