Lost Planet: Extreme Condition – Colonies Edition Xbox 360, PC Review

Back in January 2007, Capcom released Lost Planet: Extreme Condition on the Xbox 360 and it was fairly successful, selling 1.45 million units. PC and Playstation 3 ports soon followed, but Capcom clearly felt they could milk this cash cow a little more. They fed their cash cow some additional content and what exuded from its udders was the horrendously triple-titled Lost Planet: Extreme Condition – Colonies Edition.

If I was being harsh I could sum up LPECCE as ‘Starship Troopers on Ice’. Sure, this game does feature vicious insectoid aliens on a hostile otherworldly planet, but Lost Planet makes you feel more like a one-man extermination force than a soldier in the RoughNecks, and the glacial setting really is the crux of the whole game.

Strangely, ‘Lust Magnet: Rapid Attrition – Carbon Emissions’ is clearly aimed at gamers who have already played through Capcom’s frigid classic and are still thirsty for more. This is evidenced by the additional features this re-release has gained, including a mode that lets you fight through the boss battles consecutively, before you’ve even played through them in the main Story mode.

It seems an oversight then, that ‘Frost Blanket: Pointless Addition – Comedies Division’ is not compatible with an existing Lost Planet saved game. The new Unlimited mode, allows players to rush through the main game with super-abilities such as greater speed, infinite ammo, more powerful weapons and no need to reload. This would’ve been a fantastic bit of freedom and fun for Lost Planet veterans, had they not had to play through the whole single-player campaign again to unlock this.

I suppose I must mention the utterly worthless addition of a first-person camera mode, which completely fails to approximate the experience of playing an FPS. Instead, it feels like playing a highly agile third-person game in which you cannot see your character. Needless to say this doesn’t serve to increase your enjoyment of the game.

The third and final additional single-player mode is Score Attack, and this is the mode that shows the most potential. As mentioned earlier, the arctic premise is central to the mechanics of this game. The player-character has a Thermal Energy meter, which is constantly depleting due to the titular extreme conditions. This ‘T-Eng’ is also linked to health regeneration, and an empty meter ensures a swift death. The interesting part is that T-Eng is most commonly found in the frozen corpses of enemies that you’ve recently dispatched. On normal difficulty levels there is rarely the danger of succumbing to the elements, but on tougher difficulties heat escapes faster than Harry Houdini.

In its best moments ‘Cost Lament: Special Mission – Agonies Rendition’ is a frantic and exciting balancing act, requiring split-second decisions and skilful resource management. Can I spare enough thermal energy to grab that out-of-the-way ammo? Do I have enough ammo to attack that nest, or would I save more thermal energy by trying to manoeuvre past it? Is it worth sacrificing some thermal energy to power that mech for greater firepower?

Combining this with the Score Attack mode which rewards you with points for killing enemies, picking up thermal energy, and shooting the semi-destructible environmental objects makes the game something slightly greater than the sum of its mediocre parts. Although the chaining together of combos never reaches that Zen-like gameplay flow that other score attack games can induce, it nevertheless elevates the mechanics of Lost Planet beyond a simple ‘run-and-gun’ title.

Colonies has a huge online focus and is apparant when looking at the achievements list, which awards you only 5 GamerPoints for completing the single-player game. There are some new player models available in the online mode, but these have to be unlocked by levelling up online and only Lost Planet fanboys will care about this. The same can be said for the few new weapons that have been introduced; only someone who had played the original Lost Planet extensively would be excited by this prospect.

Probably the most significant extra feature that this re-hash offers is the chance to play as an Akrid, the monstrous alien creatures themselves. This is fun for five minutes until you realise that the Akrid controls are stodgy and that they’re ridiculously overpowered against normal human players. The new online modes are similarly throwaway, although yet again they will appeal to those who already adore Lost Planet.

After experiencing the unbalanced online multiplayer it comes as something of a surprise to see that Lost Planet has a surprisingly robust online community, that features abnormally high levels of female and Japanese players. It seems that although Capcom may not have done the best job in appealing to the typical Western Male Xbox 360 owner, they still have a dedicated fanbase in other demographics. Colonies also allows up to 16 players in a match, and PC and 360 gamers can play together, although only against people with the Colonies Edition.

Overall LPECCE is something of a contradiction. While its additional features are aimed at the hardcore lovers of tundran gaming, the fact that it is incompatible with the original Lost Planet is mystifying. Forcing players to start from scratch, with their only reward being some more achievements is an unnecessary irritation. That said, if you’ve never played Lost Planet before then this is the definitive version, and the budget price-point means that you wouldn’t regret your purchase too much.

Although Capcom have certainly tried their best to sweeten this deal, they haven’t really addressed any of the issues that Lost Planet originally faced. Ultimately Colonies may leave you feeling a little cold…

6 out of 10
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