At several points throughout Lost Planet 3’s development Electronic Theatre has been lucky enough to get hands-on with the videogame, engaging in armed combat against human foes and meeting everyman hero Jim Peyton. Despite changing its premise significantly from previous titles in the franchise, Lost Planet 3 has appeared increasingly promising with every new outing, resulting in high hopes for the final product.
Lost Planet 3 is a prequel that offers a glimpse at the earliest days on E.D.N. III, the planet which has been home to every instalment thus far. Peyton is a new arrival on the planet, a workaday miner here to earn his keep and pay for his family back home. Along with his rig, the lovingly named Utility Rig, Peyton has been doing this job for years. He’s experienced but isn’t commanding a high wage, experienced but isn’t considered an expert. Peyton has been around the block and seen a few things, but no matter how many bugs he’s fought nor how many planets he’s visited, nothing could’ve prepared him for the violent conspiracy that he’s about to unravel on E.D.N. III.
At the very beginning of the videogame the player thrown into the deep end: taught the basics of combat by actually doing rather than being told how to do. This is the kind of innovation that Lost Planet 3 trades in. At its core Lost Planet 3 is a basic third-person action videogame with mech combat – your missions will involve progressing the story through a variety of rescue, exploration and aggression, you’ll upgrade your weapons and increase your abilities as you continue onward – but running alongside this familiar foundation is a number of impressive ideas. Lost Planet 3 may appear simplistic to the untrained eye, perhaps even dull at points, but there’s more going on here if you take the time to scratch beyond the surface.
The gunplay is fairly generic. The weapons you will receive largely follow the standard pistol/shotgun/rifle ruleset and there’s rarely anything unusual to interest in terms of enemy tactics or use of the now all-too familiar cover system. The mech combat is somewhat different: played from a first-person perspective the player can thumb, grab and drill enemies in a very effective manner: however despite the size of your rig it’s most effective against limited numbers of enemies rather than packs.
The exploration aspect of Lost Planet 3 is limited as the experience is largely linear, however the characters featured within promote design that is worthy of celebration. You’ll regularly encounter new personalities on your journey and despite some clichéd twists by-and-large Lost Planet 3 features an entirely enjoyable action videogame plot. The pacing is a little off in places and the fact that you have no input whatsoever into the character development is a little irritating considering the simplistic nature of the combat – and what point does the player become an active participant rather than simply painting by numbers? – but regardless Lost Planet 3 manages to keep pulling you through it’s set-pieces with tangible improvements of your armoury and the promise of big things still to come.
On the side of multiplayer, Lost Planet 3 is interesting but never going to steal the show from the likes of Halo or Gears of War. Much like the original Lost Planet it’s a timesink when invested, but for those simply looking to jump in here-and-there it can be infuriatingly elitist. Lost Planet 3 is to be bought for it’s single-player campaign and indulged in online because the option is there; if you had different designs on the videogame you’re best looking elsewhere.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Lost Planet 3 is one of the finest looking videogames on current-generation hardware. Once again proving that there’s still some juice left in the aging consoles, Lost Planet 3 produces facial textures and animation that come close to rivalling any of the next-generation technical demonstrations we’ve currently been treated to. Peyton is believable throughout the campaign in both visual and aural delivery, and truly proves that a little bit of personality can go much further than the John Doe action heroes videogames have come to rely on. The greatest flaw in Lost Planet 3’s technical presentation is it’s draw distance – frequently hemmed on to avoid unsightly blemishes – but this is clearly an avoidance technique that could’ve been removed with further development time as opposed to an unavoidable limitation.
While Lost Planet 3 is never going to steal the thunder from Saints Row IV’ domination of the sales charts nor the upcoming next-generation launches, it is in itself a worthwhile endeavour. It’s a flawed experience in that it relies far too heavily on established convention, but when bold enough to attempt something all of it’s own Lost Planet 3 proves to be just as innovative as it can be engrossing. Jim Peyton is the star of the show in a way that so few videogame protagonists have ever managed to be despite their suggested years of combat training, and yet he’s unlikely to ever truly achieve fame simply due to the mediocrity of the gunplay he promotes.