E.X. Troopers is a spin-off title to Capcom's Lost Planet series. Like the main series, it takes place on the thawing ice planet of E.D.N. III. Yet, even one single glance at the game is enough to tell you that this is not Lost Planet as you've seen it before.
Instead it's a manga-style, flashy, over-the-top story of a boy and his giant robot. And while the deviations from its parent series are extreme (for better or for worse), there is plenty to love in E.X. Troopers.
Good -- That Awesome Manga Flair
The art style is hands-down the best (and most striking) feature of E.X. Troopers. The bright cel-shaded graphics are a joy to look at and the manga framing of the cutscenes is a creative way to tell the story. Better yet, the game looks just as good in battle. And despite the constant explosions and the flash of weapons fire, I never felt lost as to where I was and what was going on. In other words, E.X. Troopers is eye candy at its finest.
Good -- Simple to Pick Up and Play
Rarely are big budget games these days as easy to play as E.X. Troopers. You lock onto a target, shoot it, and dash around to dodge enemy attacks. You can equip two different weapons before each battle and, as everything has unlimited ammo, you can just shoot to your heart's content -- though there is always a short wait as you reload. Even as the battles get more complex and enemy-filled, the controls live up to the challenge -- despite their simplicity.
Good -- Coop Supports the Singleplayer
E.X. Troopers sports a coop mode that, instead of being a separate side story, serves as a supplement to the singleplayer campaign. As you play through singleplayer, you unlock coop stages that are appropriate for your level. Doing these every time they unlock is a must. The coop area is the only place you can get exp outside of the story missions. It is also a great place to get extra money and materials for weapons and armour upgrades.
If playing with others is not your thing, you can do these missions with the A.I. characters. But keep in mind, it's far easier with real people -- and several of the post-game missions look to be impossible for an A.I. team.
Mixed -- Takes Everything About Lost Planet and Twists It
Lost Planet is a serious Sci-Fi/action series with a plot built around drama and treachery. E.X. Troopers is a light-hearted "save the world" adventure in a school setting with mystical shamans and Gundam robots. While both take place in the same universe and even on the same world, the tone, plot, and much of the lore feels completely different. It's a lot like reading a 1960s Batman comic and then reading one from today. Sure, they are both Batman and many of the key components are present in both, but the feel of each is completely different from the other. Whether you like this departure or not will likely come down to how committed you are to the original games and how much you like the Shonen manga-style story.
Mixed -- Same Enemies Again and Again
There is a fair amount (read: a lot) of enemy repetition in E.X. Troopers. There are only about a dozen types of insect monsters to fight and several of those are practically reskins of the others. The humanoid enemies share the same problem but play differently depending on their weapons.
But while enemy variety is lacking, the game does the best it can with what it's got. When you first encounter a new enemy, the game gives you only a few to deal with. Then, after you have learned their attack patterns, you will encounter the enemy in larger numbers and/or grouped with another type of monster. Rarely do you fight the same composition of enemies as you progress through the game, and it is in this way the gameplay stays fresh all the way to the end.
E.X. Troopers is rarely a challenging game (until the post game, at least) nor is it anything world-shattering in the story department. However, it is beautiful, easy to pick up, and most of all, just fun to play. It took me 20 hours to beat and I spent an extra 10 unlocking costumes and beating the post-game coop missions. I enjoyed every second. If you can look past its different interpretation of the Lost Planet universe, there is a competent third-person shooter crossed with a JRPG for you to enjoy.
And as the game looks like it will never leave Japan, I'll leave this note for potential importers. The game is very playable, even if you don't speak Japanese. It's quite obvious where quests are and what your mission objectives are. All you will miss out on, then, because of the language barrier is the plot.
E.X. Troopers was released in Japan on November 22, 2012, for the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS. There are no plans for an international release at this stage.