Sometimes you've just got to love Capcom. They steadfastly refuse to change from gaming conventions so old I'd probably not even been born when they started. Then when a publisher asks them to make a `Western' title for the US they change the formula only slightly, make the characters look slightly less Japanese, give the women larger chests and hey: presto, they think they've somehow kicked off a revolution.
Lost Planet is all this and more. FPSs just aren't all the rage for Capcom, so they make what is essentially an FPS game from the third-person, and with it, all the clunky controls that this genre brings.
Yet somehow they force a square through a hole and make something memorable. Lost Planet was probably forgotten amongst many a triple A release schedule, but having discovered it 2 years late, I couldn't be happier.
Following the exploits of a young renegade trudging through the snowy wastes of the game's locale, you'll use machine guns, rocket launchers and mech-suits to blast all manner of unsightly, Starship-Troopers esque bugs, and quite a few high-tech evil corporation lackeys.
Each level is essentially linear, with the odd open-ended Halo-like arena in which to play. You'll use an interesting grapple mechanic to do some solid platforming and your limited arsenal to shoot things repeatedly across Icy wastes, volcanic interiors and generic underground bunkers.
You'll do all this with a slightly hampered control scheme. You'll never use the bumpers for quick snaps to the left or right, and you'll want to increase the (un-centered) cursor speed as soon as you start. It all still works however.
So far, so so. What makes Lost Planet so memorable is three things.
Firstly it looks incredible, even now, even with a disappointing sequel done and dusted. The snow may get boring, but the system-best explosions and vast landscapes are not. Factor in the biggest bosses this side of Gears of War or Shadow of the Colossus, and you have cinematic combat at all times.
Secondly, your slow trudge on foot soon becomes as exciting romp with the addition of a variety of `Vital Suits' - mechs- each with the requisite clunkiness to feel like a machine, but with enough fire-power to make you feel invincible. You'll lay waste to tonnes of the things, and be a VS-whore, gleefully wrecking your own in suicidal dashes just so you can get the enemies more bad-ass contraption. It's like your Ripley facing the Alien Queen, and it never gets tiresome.
Finally - and this is the clincher for many - Lost Planet is hard. Checkpoints are nearly non-existant. If you don't have the time to complete 45 minute level (120 including deaths) before you head out, don't even think about turning off the Xbox - there's no auto-save. Noticeably, you'll find yourself cursing Capcom's old school credentials - if you end up out of the cocoon of your VS in a boss battle, or out of rockets, you'll spend much of the time lying prone on the floor as 3 giant bugs, a VS a tank and 10 troopers make the earth shake like it's krakatoa as they go through their ruthless attack cycles.
You're also against the clock essentially because survival relies on collecting the energy of those you've wasted. Spend too much time exploring rather than killing, and you'll soon find yourself with the red screen.
Forget the absolutely awful plot/cutscenes/ridiculously immature bra sizes however, because Lost Planet is Capcom at its best - Japanese and loving it.