Let’s be clear: Lost Planet 3 is a prequel and yet, it has a “3” in the title. Don’t get too confused; it’s technically the third installment in the franchise, so the title is – for all intents and purposes – accurate. But fans of the first two games will spot a few significant differences in the new effort by Spark Unlimited. For instance, we’ll spend more time outside our mechs than ever before, and thermal energy is no longer required for survival; it’s the new form of currency. Oh, and big giant crab enemies that look awesome in trailers.
This is a third-person action shooter featuring two distinct mechanics: Standard on-foot combat and mech-based combat, the latter of which should be simple and relatively streamlined (don’t expect the old-fashioned clunky awkwardness). But as I just said, those familiar with the first couple of games may be surprised to learn that we’ll be spending a fair amount of time away from our mech. And because the main character, Jim, is far more vulnerable when on foot, this should add a fair amount of intensity and urgency to the gameplay.
As for the world we’ll be exploring, it’s big but it’s not exactly a sandbox style. You can jump in and out of your mech whenever you choose (provided it’s available, of course), and a fast-travel feature will allow you to quickly cover long distances. Then there’s the thermal energy, which used to be needed for healing and powering up your weapons. But in this prequel, thermal energy is basically money. You earn it by killing the Akrid enemies that infest the dangerous landscape, and you can even harvest the good stuff by planting thermal posts.
Those posts collect energy in real time, so you can return later to gather; obviously, the longer you wait, the more thermal energy you’ll receive. But there’s a catch— The Akrid are attracted to heat, so the longer you stick around gathering, the more Akrid are going to be swarming to your position. That could be either frustrating or entertaining, depending on just how difficult it’ll be to fight off the Akrid while we get our energy. The rewards should be great, though, because Akrid drop thermal energy, too, so collection points could yield huge draws.
The most appealing part of the entire adventure might center on the survival element. When on foot, you won’t have a huge amount of ammunition, nor will you have the strength to handle every foe you face. You might have to be clever and there’s no doubt you’ll have to be resourceful; it’ll be a matter of managing both your inventory and your surroundings in order to emerge victorious. To me, that sounds more entertaining than the mech segments, which are bound to be more about fast action and flashy combat. The mix of the two combat styles should be very cool.
We won’t see Lost Planet 3 until spring, but we’re hoping Capcom and Spark Unlimited can deliver an invigorating sci-fi action title that keeps us interested throughout. Just get the pacing and control right, and we should have plenty of fun.