A prequel to the 2007 original, Lost Planet 3 not only brings back the below-zero conditions, it also favours a cinematic singleplayer experience over the second chapter’s undercooked co-op focus. In addition to making a welcome return to the franchise’s roots, LP3 introduces a number of fresh features, not the least of which is a promising new horror element.
Once established as a likeable guy we can root for, Jim heads out to start his work day. He enters the hangar-an obvious homage to The Empire Strikes Back‘s Hoth base-and gets into his rig; more construction vehicle than mech, the enormous machine is a cross between a Vital Suit and the Power Loader Ripley uses to combat the queen xenomorph in Aliens. Of course, the rig’s buzzing drill arm can do more than mine precious minerals, but the Capcom rep steering our demo first shows off its basic functions.
E.D.N. III’s wintery conditions are as nasty as its oversized arachnids, so Jim first uses his rig to fight off the frigid elements. From a first-person cockpit view, he uses one of its mechanical arms to remove ice from the hangar’s frozen doors before exiting into the snow-blanketed tundra. Once outside, the rig’s cockpit glass frosts over and ice forms on some of its moving parts. Auto-rifle in hand, Jim jumps out to blast the ice from the crippled machinery. The gunfire apparently attracts some of the planet’s pissed-off populace though, and Jim’s hand-cannon quickly becomes more than a glorified snow brush.
Before he gets too cozy in the cockpit, he’s forced outside again by a cave system that’s only accessible on foot. Using a grappling hook-another series’ staple-he enters the icy caverns to plant some thermal energy posts, which seasoned snow pirates will remember as the fiction’s valuable power source. His work’s quickly interrupted, however, by a giant crab-like Akrid that makes the previous threats look like pesky cockroaches. With his rig out of reach, he relies on a strafing and shot-gunning strategy to blast ice from the monster’s shell. The frozen shards reveal glowing weak points, another returning gamplay element, on its joints and mouth; a few buckshot blasts to the limbs and a grenade in its maw later, and Jim’s able to return to work.
After a bit more goosebump-inducing exploration, we find Jim back at his rig where another crab Akrid is waiting to be turned into a shellfish appetizer. Unlike his previous encounter of the clawed kind, this one’s a fair fight; behind the controls of both mechanical arms, Jim essentially boxes the big bad with a combination of blocks, jabs and weak point-piercing drill injections.
A promising mix of the original LP’s best elements and a number of fresh features, LP3 was the biggest surprise of Capcom’s recent Captivate event. While we didn’t get our hands on it, we’re already looking forward to helping Jim squash alien bugs and fight frost bite when the title hits in early 2013.
A full-time freelance journalist for over seven years, Matt Cabral covers the video game industry for a variety of mainstream and enthusiast outlets. Find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @gamegoat.