Launching 10 years ago today, Lost Planet 3 is a game that had a lot to offer. As it had done with it’s prior sequel, Lost Planet 3 ignored the series rulebook. It’s a single-player game that invests heavily in character. Engaging in armed combat against foes as everyman hero Jim Peyton, it offered a break from the me-too muscle men of the era. And despite changing its premise significantly from previous titles in the franchise, Lost Planet 3 managed to deliver a tale worth telling.
Lost in a Lost Planet Timeline
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. He’s 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 the player thrown into the deep end. You’re 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 game 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.
Getting Lost in the Gameplay Loop
The gunplay is fairly generic. The weapons you will receive largely follow the standard pistol/shotgun/rifle ruleset and there’s rarely anything unusual in terms of enemy tactics or use of the now all-too familiar cover system. The mech combat is somewhat different, however. Played from a first-person perspective the player can thump, 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 interesting new personalities on your journey. And despite some clichéd twists, by-and-large Lost Planet 3 features an entirely enjoyable action plot. Sadly, 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. At what point does the player become an active participant rather than simply painting by numbers? Yet 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.
Multiplayer: Is it Lost Planet 2?
On the side of multiplayer, Lost Planet 3 is interesting but never going to steal the show from the likes of Halo: The Master Chief Collection 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. There is of course, nothing like the co-operative blastathon that is Lost Planet 2. Lost Planet 3 is to be bought for it’s single-player campaign only. You can indulge in online play because the option is there, but if you had different designs on the experience you’re best looking elsewhere.
Looks Aren’t Everything, But They Help…
Without a shadow of a doubt, Lost Planet 3 is one of the finest looking games on the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 hardware. Facial textures and animation come close to rivalling any of the early Xbox One/PlayStation 4 technical demonstrations. Peyton is believable throughout the campaign in both visual and aural delivery. He truly proves that a little bit of personality can go much further than the John Doe action heroes many games have come to rely on. The greatest flaw in Lost Planet 3’s technical presentation is it’s draw distance. Frequently hemmed in to avoid unsightly blemishes, this is clearly a limitation that could’ve been removed with further development time.
While Lost Planet 3 was never going to steal the thunder from the impending next-generation launches, it in itself remains a worthwhile endeavour. It’s a flawed experience, relying 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.