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Critical Reception: Capcom's  Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

Critical Reception: Capcom's Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

January 10, 2007 | By Danny Cowan

January 10, 2007 | By Danny Cowan
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This week's edition of the regular Critical Reception column examines online reaction to Capcom's Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, a third-person action title that many are calling the Xbox 360's first major release of 2007.

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition met with a warm reception in Japan upon its release in December. After scoring an impressive 36/40 in Weekly Famitsu, the title went on to top the Xbox 360 software sales charts in the weeks following its release.

Elsewhere in the world, however, critical opinion is mixed. Review scores for Lost Planet range from as low as 60% to as high as 95%, with Gamerankings.com currently reporting an average review score ratio of 78%.

Brett Elston of Games Radar pens one of Lost Planet's most enthusiastic reviews. Praising both its offline and online gameplay modes, Elston seems entirely satisfied with Lost Planet as a whole. "There are so many ways to go about dismantling your enemies that it's hard to go back to other third-person shooters," he claims, rating the game at 9 out of 10.

"There are countless, subtle touches that make Lost Planet more than just a bug bloodbath," Elston continues. For example: "Toss a grenade into a cluster of snow pirates and they'll soar through the air with realistic heft and flailing."

The game's online portion gets its share of praise as well. "As intense as the single-player game is," he notes, "the online multiplayer rocks even harder. Expertly crafted maps provide excellent showdowns for large or small groups, plus all the zip-lining, mech-riding insanity you can handle."

The tone is overwhelmingly positive, despite citing some "boring stretches" and a confusing storyline as being occasional detriments. "Just skip the plot," he recommends, "and you'll be stranded in bug-blasting, giant robot heaven."

IGN's Erik Brudvig assigns Lost Planet a score of 8.5 out of 10, and shares much of the same enthusiasm.

Brudvig emphasizes that much of the game's appeal comes from the introduction of a constantly draining energy bar that only replenishes after defeating enemies. "The energy doesn't drain fast enough to ever become a serious issue in most stages," he writes, "but it does provide a nice nudge to the player to keep them moving along towards the next big fight."

Essentially: "In this way, the thermal energy mechanic is an excellent addition to an action game - if you don't keep moving and fighting and spend all of your time doing uneventful exploring, you'll find yourself in big trouble."

Despite its effectiveness at supplying constant action, however, Brudvig has a few issues with Lost Planet. "The handling in Lost Planet takes some getting used to and probably could have been mapped to the controller better," he admits. The multiplayer modes are also the focus of criticism, due to what Brudvig describes as a complete lack of offline options and cooperative play.

These problems did little to interfere with Brudvig's enjoyment of the title, however. "Lost Planet is a great game that suffers from a few bad design decisions," he summarizes. "The bottom line, though, is that the game is a lot of fun and that's all that really matters, isn't it?"

Greg Ford at 1UP.com would disagree. "Lost Planet starts at a gallop, as any good action-shooter should," he states in his 6.5-out-of-10 review, "and it keeps the upbeat pace going for a few more levels."

This soon changes, though. "You feel a rush of power as you dominate smaller enemies and handily dispatch with midsized ones," Ford notes. "But as the game shifts into mech-heavy stages, the luster fades into plodding labor, especially as the Akrids thin out and you're stuck fighting other mechs."

The mech-on-mech fights are where Lost Planet suffers, according to Ford, especially during boss battles. "With the humans, it's mech-on-mech fights that usually boil down to a battle of attrition as you try to keep a barrier between yourself and your opponent and take potshots," Ford writes. "The Akrid fights prove much more interesting (and huge), but it's a similar result: You simply take aim at their 'hit me here' weak spots with the biggest gun you have while running from them -- it gets old fast."

"For a while, Lost Planet seems like a great fit for lovers of arcade-style action games," Ford concludes. However: "Sleek graphics and a fast start can't mask what's an entertaining but ultimately disposable diversion."

Though Lost Planet: Extreme Condition has been one of the Xbox 360's most anticipated titles, critical opinion is split, which may cause hesitation on the part of potential buyers. If Xbox 360 owners can look past Lost Planet's gameplay issues, however, the title could become just as big of a success in the rest of the world as it was in Japan.


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