In the eyes of many, putting Spark Unlimited in charge of Lost Planet 3 is like putting Donald Duck in charge of an international weapons syndicate. Capcom's farmed out franchises to western outfits before, of course, but it's never handed over development dues to a studio with quite such a blemished record. Prior Spark Unlimited "hits" include Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, currently cruising at an altitude of 43 on Metacritic, and Legendary, which nurses a measly 47.
Still, benefit of the doubt and all that. Lost Planet 3 isn't in the safest hands, but it does look extraordinarily interesting. Where prior Lost Planets gave us vaguely sandboxy, Phantasy Star era missions filled with weapon drops, drivable mechs and colourful alien bogies, the new game is a story-centric, open world affair set many years before Lost Planet 1.
You play Jim, a bearded roughneck scraping a living as a NEVEC (aka "Big Bad Corporation de jour") employee on the frostbound planet EDN III. A mining mech driver by profession, Jim finds himself swept up in one of them new-fangled "global conspiracies" after discovering an ancient installation during an otherwise routine sweep-and-clear mission.
EDN III's resident nasties the Akrid are out in force, their bodies suffused with gloopy golden miracle fuel T-ENG. As before, you'll take them down by blasting away at their T-ENG glands in third-person. There's more than one way to skin this particular cat, however. Lost Planet 3 places much greater emphasis on mechs, or as they're here known, Rigs. Jim begins the game aboard a basic, thirty-foot model with drills for fists; as the campaign wears on, you'll upgrade it to fighting fitness at NEVEC bases.
Rigs are essential when traversing the wasteland, offering protection from both the weather and the Akrid, though they'll freeze up in particularly severe conditions, cue a scramble around the exterior to clear ice from joints. You'll also employ them in tandem with infantry tactics to defeat certain Akrid types - clamping a giant crab's arms above its head, for instance, so you've got a clear shot at its underbelly.
Venture underground, and the action takes on a decidedly Dead Spacey feel thanks to choice of HUD elements and some suspenseful scene-setting. A good parallel, that. The game's on-foot combat has apparently been given a hair cut, with snappier ironsights and heftier guns.
For more on Lost Planet 3, which launches in 2013, check out CVG's first look preview. Here's the announcement trailer again.