Lost Planet: Extreme Condition PC Review

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition looks absolutely gorgeous, but it smacks of a typical console to PC port that has merely come about as an afterthought and as such all the game’s faults rise to the surface. Lost Planet was critically accepted after its release in January on the Xbox 360, but the PC gaming market has had to wait for six long months for an, at best, acceptable port of the same title. Overall the Lost Planet experience is a fair one, if your rig can stand it, but shouldn’t the humble PC gamer be getting more six months later or at the very least a perfect conversion? Not this time, any holes in the original Xbox 360 title have been supplemented nicely.

It is probably best to start by saying that Lost Planet’s plot will never win an Oscar, based as it is around the simplest of revenge stories. Yet, the movie genre of the Western used a similarly simple formula for many successful years so it’s only fair to give Lost Planet a chance. Playing as Wayne, whose father was killed by the monstrous Green Eye, you battle through hordes of the alien species known as the Akrid to exact your vengeance for your father’s death. These are the same Akrid who are objecting to the colonisation of their planet by humans by the way, swines! Along the way there are also your typical side tangents such as helping the hapless colonists and avoiding or annihilating the treacherous snow pirate type fellows. This simple formula could be forgiveable if it were not for the horrendously produced cut-scenes with their atrocious voice acting. So let us cut to the chase, do not play this game expecting to be gripped by a dramatic story as we all were in bygone years by titles such as Max Payne and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, it’s as simple as that.

This mediocre story and the way it must linearly be pursued is only challenged by the appearance of an almost classical arcade style time limit. While not being a literal clock, as in the Streets of Rage era, Lost Planet has a timer in the form of T-Eng, or Thermal Energy. Your character, Wayne, needs Thermal Energy to stay alive in the frozen tundra that is planet E. D. N. III. Your levels of T-Eng continuously drop and you must gather more as you progress through the levels; this can be collected from various sources such as fallen foes, but also from conveniently located refuelling stations. Alas, while this is probably all meant to give a sense of urgency to proceedings and therefore the storyline, there is such a plentiful supply of T-Eng that you’ll never be particularly concerned. As such the T-Eng provides more of a gameplay nuisance rather than the game-enveloping mechanic it should perhaps give to the story and game as a whole.

The T-Eng provided by your defeated enemies mainly comes from the aforementioned Akrid who you fight for most of the game; and yes everyone knows that they look like the bad guys from Starship Troopers. However, no mere machine gun round will blast away these enemies which thankfully ensures some tactical battling. Although the Akrid come in all shapes and sizes (stupidly big sizes at that) you will find yourself typically dodging attacks until you can pinpoint the hole in the armour of your Akrid rival and then exploiting that weakness; unfortunately these weak points are sadly so easy to spot in the third person viewpoint that it makes the game easier than perhaps it should be. In addition to this foot-based combat are the machines that have come straight from Mech Warrior which add a nice bit of spice to the action and are vital when taking on the bigger Akrid. These Mechs certainly serve to give welcome variety to the action, but still follow the same strafe and shoot mechanic, just with bigger explosions. In terms of your tasks throughout the game, that’s the meat and veg of it. It isn’t flashy or particularly clever and frankly you think they might have added more for the PC version, especially with the Steam application on hand to supply easy downloads.

Alas, Lost Planet’s fast paced combat style and gameplay as a whole is mainly let down by the control mechanism. If you don’t have an Xbox 360 pad hooked up to your PC you’ll be reminded at every turn that this game was designed for one; step in a mech and a giant picture of the pad will pop up on your screen! This production oversight is but one area that demonstrates a typical lacklustre effort at porting a console game to the PC. When using the mouse the game becomes far too easy as you do not have to wait what seems like an eternity for your crosshair to scroll across the screen, as such you can dispatch enemies much quicker and far more accurately hit those weak spots in their armour. Also please note that you can’t look directly up, this is a real hindrance when trying to use a grappling hook! The sound has also been neglected in a similar way for the PC conversion. One cannot customise their soundtracks as is possible of the Xbox version of the title, as such you’ll end up turning the speakers off and turning on your HiFi to get away from the terrible voice acting and bland score.

Before this review heads down a long, dark, port bashing tangent it is time to conclude in case things get out of hand. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition is a decent enough game despite all the conversion problems. Anyone who’s ever heard of the title will know that the graphics are stupendous and thus they have not really been looked at in this review. Yet, the beauty of these visual effects is sullied by gameplay that survives in the realm of the console, but when shifted onto the PC becomes simply mediocre especially when using a mouse, not to mention the plot problems. None of this even touches on why one needs such a powerful PC when compared to the Xbox 360 console itself most modern computers are more powerful spec for spec. All in all this poor port by Capcom has served to highlight that Lost Planet’s graphics gloss over distinctly average gameplay in what could have been a ground breaking game.

Minimum System Requirements: Processor: Intel P4/Memory: 512mb/Hdd: 8.0gb/DVD-Rom/Graphics Card: 256mb with Pixel Shader 3.0/Windows XP/Internet Connection.

Review System: Processor: AMD Athlon 3400+/Memory: 2gb/Hdd: 80gb/DVD-Rom/Graphics Card: GeForce 7800 GTX 256mb/XP

Worth the experience graphically if for no other reason, just buy it on the Xbox.

6.5 out of 10

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