Mini Retrospective: Lost Planet

I will honestly admit that the Lost Planet trilogy is a series hard to go in-depth on, but I still have a lot of respect for this little Capcom-series that the team clearly wanted to succeed. It might be an odd strategy to make an Americanized game instead of going for a more authentic approach, but keep in mind that when the Xbox 360 launched there was a huge push for games like Gears of War, and genres like JRPG were deemed dead.

This was not just a strategy to reach higher numbers in sales, but also to secure finances as only appealing to a Japanese audience, would also create too much competition with other developers in Japan. Thus began Capcom’s slew of games that were heavily westernized, with some leaving a worthy legacy like Dead Rising while others, like Bionic Commando (2009), killed its franchise. Lost Planet, was one of the more noteworthy series, despite not necessarily leaving a huge impact with the audience. This is a shame in my opinion, as Capcom clearly tried and had a lot of good intentions, but just did not know which idea to go with.

The beauty of a new IP

What is really great about something that is not established, is how diverse it can be. The first installment provided a great beginner’s survival horror, the second was a team-based shooter, and the last entry was story-driven with a fantastic atmosphere. It really shows that the trilogy at least had one game that might tickle your interests, and while I have a hard time recommending the second game, it can still be worthwhile if you are into the experience it delivers. 

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What is consistent is the icy planet of E.D.N III. It is a huge snowball, with areas that are inhabited by creatures and monsters that really keep you on edge. Sure they try to make it warm and a place to live on, but it presents a constant danger with fantastic visuals and a soundtrack that makes you pumped for the upcoming action, or immersed in this new and intriguing world. I also like that thermal went from being a tool for survival to a boost, and then to simple currency, giving it a consistent footnote.

The problem of a new IP

Though the presentation is what is consistent, I must admit it is sad that what I can say is persistent between the games mechanically, is the auto-aiming being constantly on and present. It really wants to hold your hands, and I really dislike this design choice as aiming with a mouse or a controller are both valid options without any unneeded help. This way of hand-holding can also be viewed as disrespectful to the gamers. Why not have this option only if you play easy-mode? While I think the third and first games are worth your time, the second is quite hard to recommend as it is incredibly unpolished and not more than a mediocre multiplayer game that tried.

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This unclear identity is what killed the franchise. By not establishing a clear mood or a concept, it is hard to get a foothold and be remembered. All take place on the same location, sure, but they all are different types of shooters and, just like RPGs, just because someone enjoys Dragon Quest, does not mean they will automatically enjoy Elders Scrolls. A survival shooter, a team-based shooter, and a walking-shooter, are all different and even presents different moods, which again neglects it to be anything specified. I can’t, however, comment much on EX Troopers, the side-game of the series, as I was never fortunate enough to own it. However, even that game had a completely different artstyle, so it continues the trend of Lost Planet’s lack of identity.

Lost and forgotten?

While the Lost Planet-games had many cameos in their own games, like a costume of Megaman X’ armor or even Monster Hunter outfits, Lost Planet was rarely tributed in other games. PTX-40A, one of the machines from the first game, was featured as a fighter in Tatsunoko VS Capcom, but that is really all I can remember.

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What was surprising, was that David Hayter (who voiced Solid and Naked Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series, and was a screenwriter for the two X-men movies and Watchmen) was in discussion with Warner Brothers for writing and directing a film adaptation of the first game. Avi and Ari Arad (who is known for The Incredible Hulk and the Iron Man-films), was also going to be involved in this project. However, this was back in 2008. Hayter commented in an interview with MTV that they “had some internal issues between a couple of companies”. It is unsure what this problem involved, but it delayed the project and in 2014, the plans for the movie simply faded away when Warner Bros. got into a financial crash. 

I am saddened that this is what has come to the Lost Planet Trilogy, but it is hard at the same time to say if the team could have gone further with this series, when even they had no idea what to do with it. Now that some time has passed, maybe they could focus on what worked and learn from what didn’t, or maybe it is for the best that the series is now left in the cold? That might be too harsh though, as I would recommend the first game for its strong and beginner-friendly gameplay, and the third for the atmosphere and story. Both also feature a robust multiplayer, so go with the one you are most comfortable with. The second isn’t terrible, but you have to be very forgiving and really be in the mood for a co-operative only shooter that needs 3 good friends at least.

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