Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
Capcom's proprietary game development system, Framework MT, debuted in real style with the Xbox 360 hit, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition. A flawed, but generally enjoyable blaster, this game along with stablemate Dead Rising, proved that Capcom's technical credentials with the new wave of consoles were beyond doubt.
As a game, Lost Planet is rich in cool ideas. The game's Japanese origins are highlighted with the inclusion of a range of superb, ultra-large bosses along with an array of typically imaginative insectoid opponents. The icy setting also allows for another innovative gameplay dynamic - just keeping warm requires the constant topping up of T-ENG thermal power, gleaned by blowing up scenery or wasting your opponents.
However, for all its lovely graphics and curious concepts, Lost Planet's levels are generally overlong and often repetitive. It's also the case that there's absolutely nothing to stop you running through most of the levels ignoring many of the enemies completely in order to reach the next stage. You can't help but get the impression that a few more months of gameplay re-tooling could have made this a much better game.
Unfortunately, with this PlayStation 3 conversion, Capcom has done nothing to improve the original release, aside from bundling in DLC maps and a few bonus characters not found in the original 360 version. The only other additions are even more unwelcome. Colour balance is generally worse, with a bleached out effect that wipes out a lot of the more intricate detail, but far more offensive is the inclusion of horrible motion blur and some truly horrendous frame-rate drops.
Why PS3 Lost Planet is quite as bad as it is happens to be something of a mystery. The same Framework MT engine was used on the infinitely more challenging Devil May Cry 4, the PS3 version of which is almost identical to the 360 version. Certainly DMC4 had none of the frame-rate issues that afflict Lost Planet, and while it uses a similar frameblending blur effect, the fact that it updates twice as quickly at the optimum 60fps makes it far less of an issue.
PlayStation 3 owners also have to put up with a monster 5GB installation, one of the more unfortunate things that Lost Planet has in common with Devil May Cry 4. Thankfully the installation process is much quicker than DMC4, but I'm now reaching the point where I simply don't have space on my 60GB hard disk for all the games I'm forced to install. Every new one finds me scouring my HDD for content I can wipe, something just doesn't feel right for a console. Optional installs like Virtua Fighter 5 and Ridge Racer 7 are absolutely fine with me - 10 to 20 minute mandatory installs and forcing me to delete content are not.
Bearing in mind how important the Japanese market is to a company like Capcom, it's surprising that Lost Planet should be in the condition it is on PlayStation 3 ["extreme condition" surely - Ed], especially considering that the company has the talent and the technology to make a game that should be easily as good as the 15-month-old Xbox 360 version.
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