When Nic Cage lookalike Jim Peyton steps onto the frozen, hostile surface of EDN III, he's only there to do a job. As it turns out, you'll do a lot of jobs for a number of different people. There are fetch jobs, repair jobs, defend jobs and even optional jobs on top of the main jobs, and they're all kept in your Job Log. There are little bits of interest wedged between the tasks you're given, but they don't quite prevent Lost Planet 3 from developing into a dull exercise in how to turn a game into one long job; the kind that you can't wait to escape from at the end of the day.
Set 50 years before the events of the first game, Lost Planet 3 explores EDN III's backstory. From the first human colonists, to how the ominous Weyland-Yutani style organization NEVEC became the series' antagonists. It does this serviceably enough, with a stronger narrative than its two predecessors, but even the mysterious sci-fi story doesn't manage to distract from the dull proceedings.
Jim is a bland but likeable guy, but he never steps up with the charisma that the game desperately needs. He's just a busybody, uttering lines like "for the win" and "that's bananas." Moments of cast exposition are mostly played out through video recordings, but the surrounding characters are just as middle-of-the-road as Jim. Your rig mechanic, Gale, grates from the off, and when the game throws poignant moments clearly intended to hit hard, the result falls flat.
The game also constantly borrows from classic sci-fi but makes nothing of its influences. At times it tries to be Dead Space, with tense claustrophobic corridors, but Lost Planet 3 thinks it's much scarier than it actually is, overusing the flickering lights and screeching violins until you feel no sense of dread. Genre nods, like the little facehugger-style Akrid urchins skittering along the floor in true Alien fashion, just make you wish you were experiencing a more inspired piece of science fiction.
Akrud, more like
EDN III is a great setting, but it isn't used well. You're funneled down corridors and through abandoned space stations, but no location sticks in the memory. You spend pretty much all of your time trudging past gorgeous views to weld pipes, repair elevators and perform other workmanline objectives. The alluring backdrop of this beautiful planet simply hammers home your lack of freedom, and how mundane your tasks are. You'll press more buttons, pull more levers and unlock more doors than you can count, and even Jim pipes up at one point, saying, "why is every door on this planet either locked or out of power?" We don't know, Jim. We wish we did.
Things barely improve in combat. The shooting is functional, but your arsenal isn't exciting or particularly distinctive, and melee combat is entirely bad. The smaller Akrid are basically cannon fodder, and the sheer amount of them you'll face means you soon develop fodder fatigue. Larger enemies boil down to simple colour-coded attack sequences. You shoot at the weak red bits, dodge some attacks, complete a quick time event, then return to shooting those red bits. There's nothing tactical or challenging about it, and defeating huge Akrid fills you with only relief - not satisfaction - that your latest chore is done.
Even in your Rig - your huge upgradeable mech- huge boss fights are never fun. You have no guns, so combat is just swinging and slashing with a drill and claw, and none of it feels responsive. Once you take too much damage you're ejected from the seat, left to fend for yourself on foot until your mech replenishes enough health. This would be fine if the game was consistent about its QTEs, but you're regularly left hammering the button prompts to no avail.
Lost Planet 3's basic competence doesn't mask an almost complete reliance on recycled fetch quests. Its story ends on a relative high, but once the pace finally picks up in the final couple of hours, it's much too late and the 14-hour slog to get there isn't worth the payoff. Even in multiplayer, the standard PvP deathmatch modes, a Horde-style wave mode and some scenario-based objective challenges don't manage to excite - this game's problems go much deeper than the absence of AI can fix. Lost Planet 3 clearly has big ambitions, but the finished product seems as old as the Ice Age itself.
By Sam White. Lost Planet 3 is on sale now in the US, and hits Europe on 30th August.
This isn't the space hero we wanted
- EDN III is a strong setting
- Does nothing with its influences
- Unimaginative enemies
- Endless fetch quests
- Too many QTEs