Lost Planet 2

Insect propellant.

Like a lot of Capcom's output at the moment, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition was Western in principle but Japanese in execution, so it's no surprise when producer Jun Takeuchi - taking over from R&D boss Keiji Inafune, who's up to his jugular in the blood and guts of Dead Rising 2 - announces that the sequel owes a lot to "Call of Duty". Us either. Apparently it's quite big on the internet.

After putting a lot of support into Lost Planet's own online community - with a leaderboard-tracking community website, numerous content updates and a redux version of the game called Lost Planet: Colonies - it's safe to say that Takeuchi and his colleagues share Activision's intent in that area too. There's four-player campaign co-op this time, more customisation options than Starbucks, and a dedicated "My Page" channel in-game to track levelling, DLC releases and boards. Although there's little exact word on multiplayer modes, Takeuchi says to expect Fox Hunt to return, along with others from Colonies.

Perhaps the most jarring thing about the game though is Takeuchi's revelation that there is no new Wayne. You are the main character, and it's here - rather than in the online options - that the Call of Duty comparison is drawn. Although Capcom hopes to preserve the atmosphere and drama (and hopefully the indulgent cut-scenes) familiar to fans of the company's output, Lost Planet 2 employs a split narrative that shimmies between contrasting scenarios.

This means that you will experience the ongoing war on the surface of EDN III from several perspectives (including a new branch of NEVEC), before it's all brought together in the final chapter. The war that rages over a globally-warmed planet now devoid of the snow that characterised the original is for control of Thermal Energy (T-Eng) resources, comparable to our own fascination with oil, and the game will take in numerous environments, including the lush jungle we've already seen, and others we haven't.

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Takeuchi jokes that you can ask him anything, even his shoe size. He does this in every presentation. We call his bluff - apparently he's a nine.

That jungle is the focus of the first gameplay demo - a four-player incursion manned by Capcom staffers in the same room playing on networked laptops, which begins with a speedboat ride into mangroves before evolving across the carpets of reactive vegetation, under and around the boughs of giant trees and into clearings. Capcom's boasts of improved visuals ring true as flames light up the dense foliage and new insectoid Akrid enemies swarm into battle. The first game to use version 2.0 of Capcom's much-complimented multiformat MT Framework engine, Lost Planet 2 is rife with new shaders and effects, most of which your dimwitted correspondent doesn't understand. But it looks fabulous.

The second demo takes in a gigantic boss battle in a valley strewn with the wreckage of past conflicts. First the third-person player-controlled troops take over a datapost - they replenish T-Eng but also act as save checkpoints - before a monstrous, hulking sloth-like boss slithers onto land and starts stomping around on six legs, lashing at the tiny humans with a froggy prehensile tongue. Its face and back are covered in horns and spikes, and again it calls to mind Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers.

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