The Lost Planet series has had a somewhat bumpy ride since it’s inception at the very start of the current-generation. The original title was a brilliantly flawed preview of just what was possible on the new hardware, and the follow-up was a mismatch of ideas that let down the enjoyable but shallow gameplay. Lost Planet 3 then, enters a market that is clearly unsure of where the franchise belongs, and comes from a developer that obviously feels the same.
Lost Planet 3 isn’t a progression of the ideas seen in Lost Planet 2, but a return to the narrative structure of the original title. In fact, at present, there is no multiplayer gameplay confirmed for the title at all. That’s certainly not to be taken as a bad omen however, nor is that fact that the development of the title has been handed to Spark Unlimited – the team responsible for what are arguably two of the current-generation’s worst action titles – as from the brief introduction to the videogame that Electronic Theatre has experienced, Lost Planet 3 is looking set to be one of the most promising action titles of 2013.
Beginning at the very start of the videogame, the player is introduced to Jim Peyton with the kind of finesse rarely seen in the development of virtual characters. Just as with the forthcoming DmC: Devil May Cry, some credit has to be given to Lost Planet 3 for avoiding the typical characterisation pitfalls. This is no skinhead action hero; this is a workaday family man trying to earn his crust before returning home. And unquestionably, Lost Planet 3 proposes a much more intriguing story because of it.
Peyton and his colleagues tell the tale of a group of miners hired to explore the frozen wasteland of E.D.N. III – the same planet visited in both Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and Lost Planet 2, though set long before either title – in preparation for future colonisation by Neo-Venus Construction. Peyton doesn’t care for any of this however, his only goal is to fulfil his contract by shipping the required minerals back to Earth, and returning home to his family once the job is done. His accomplishes this by way of his Rig, a hulking mechanised excavation suit which, unlike the mechs of previous Lost Planet titles, isn’t designed for combat but instead equipped with drill arms and claw arms for mining.
The Rig is controlled in first-person, while players control Peyton in third-person when dismounted. Entering and exiting the Rig is a very quick and simple process, which is a purposeful design decision as it appears as though players will be making the transition regularly. The first exercise given in this early build was to find a lost component of another Rig, which was only a short stroll from the base in which you begin. Doing so offers the opportunity to experience a small taster of the gameplay mechanics that will be presented throughout the videogame – navigation, zip-lining, mounted and on-foot combat – before advancing the plot, and delivering a much larger objective.
Set to arrive next year, Lost Planet 3 is likely to undergo significant changes prior to release. The promised open-plan gameplay was not witnessed in this early build, nor was the heat mechanic for which the original title became famous (though heat is still dropped from enemies suggesting it may be incorporated at a later date). However, even from this small taster of the videogame Lost Planet 3 is already presenting one of the most confident design templates yet seen in action videogames on current-generation consoles, able to push boundaries without bending to the whims of the videogames buying public. Hopes are high that Spark Unlimited are able to build a full adventure that’s just as engrossing as this small slice of action, and while we wait to find out Electronic Theatre recommends you keep Lost Planet 3 riding high on your watch list.