Set on a frozen planet filled with snow pirates, monstrous wildlife, mech suits, and extreme conditions, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition was released for the Xbox 360 in 2006. Developed and published by Capcom, Lost Planet was originally scheduled to be an Xbox 360 exclusive before being ported to the PlayStation 3 two years later. This game is one that I would consider a “hidden gem” in the 360 library. I knew of it but never played it until this review. What made the game a “must play” and what elements could it improve on?
I’m a sucker for a good story and Lost Planet has put effort into their story but unfortunately, it doesn’t come out as clear as it should. Characters are introduced with very little background information and motives. Overall, the characters are likable and I enjoy their designs, especially Luka who comes across as very cute but the story wove around the characters wasn’t easy to follow. I’ve read that some complained about the voice acting, but I thought it was enjoyable and have no complaints. I don’t expect every video game to be Metal Gear Solid and as long as the characters have personalities and good designs, I’m okay with B-Rated acting. Enough of talking about the story, and let’s talk about the story!
To understand the plot you’ll need to understand the setting.
Humankind had left Earth in search of colonizing new planets. They discovered E.D.N. III and decided to settle on it. At first, it was successful as they built homes and structures on the snow planet. Sure it was freezing and full of ice but it could be inhabited. Soon after establishing colonies, the humans were attacked by native wildlife, called Akrids. These huge insect-like monsters terrorized the settlers and forcing them to fight. Many were unsuccessful, and the rich decided to leave the planet but not before discovering that the bodies of these Akrid produced a very rare and valuable thermal energy source. If the Akrid could be slain, the thermal energy could be harvested. While the rich left the planet, the other settlers were forced to live in clans and various outposts eventually becoming snow pirates. That is where the story of Lost Planet begins.
You are Wayne, a snow pirate that is looking to exterminate a hive of Akrid that has taken over a domed city. Wayne and his father’s unit take on the Akrid but are cornered by a huge Akrid named “Green Eyes”. Wayne’s father sacrifices himself as Wayne escapes in his damaged VS (Vital Suit, think Mech suits) but freezes in the extreme conditions. His is revived 30 years later by a small crew of snow pirates that consists of Yuri, their leader and a scientist, Luka a big-breasted cute girl, and her brother Rick who is kind of a dweeb.
After being revived, Wayne has lost his memory and recalls nothing besides the final moments of the attack on the Green Eye. It is revealed that Wayne was able to survive the cold due to the attachment to his arm called a “harmonizer” that runs on the thermal energy found in the Akrids. Yuri informs Wayne that a giant company called “NEVAC” is on the planet looking to thaw it out and make it livable.
Wayne agrees to work for Yuri and during a mission, he encounters a woman named Basil who accuses Yuri of betraying her clan and killing her father. When Wayne goes to Yuri for answers, he disappears and is shown leaving with NEVAC soldiers. This is where the story starts to get tough to follow. Wayne’s memory recovers and instead of the “Green Eye” Akrid killing his father, he remembers that it was NEVAC that assassinated his father with a man named Bandero in charge. The Green Eye still exists, and Wayne defeats the monster, but his father was killed by NEVAC and not the Green Eye. (Weird, I know) Meanwhile, Rick has been taken captive after their bunker was raided by NEVAC.
A year passes and Luka and Wayne work together to pick off units of NEVAC. During one mission, they discover that Rick is still alive and has been taken under the wing by Basil. Basil helps Wayne capture a NEVAC soldier named Joe and begin to interrogate him. Joe tells him of NEVAC’s plan to heat the planet. The problem with NEVAC’s strategy is that it will kill all the Akrids and humans that are currently on the surface so NEVAC can retreat to the sky as thousands of innocent people die.
Joe sets up a meeting between Bandero and Wayne only to lead them into an ambush. It is revealed that Joe was working for Bandero all along but thought that no one would get killed. Wayne and Joe barely escape with their lives as Bandero threatens to kill them later. Bandero and Wayne battle to the death soon after with Wayne coming out on top. He finds Yuri quickly dying from torture but no before Yuri hands him a device that will unlock the full potential of his father’s VS that Wayne has been using. With the power unlocked Wayne takes on the head of NEVAC, a commander named Isenberg. Basil commits suicide in a massive explosion that gives Wayne more time. Wayne and Isenberg battle it out in their VS units before Wayne defeats him saving the humans on the surface. The extended power of the VS has again rid Wayne of his memory and he is seen collapsing just as Luka reaches him.
A year passes and Luka and Rick are finishing the work of Yuri. They launch small pods around the area that begin the melt the snow, turning the ice into soil and grass. Luka is talking to herself wishing that Wayne was here to see it. Just as she finishes her sentence, Wayne walks into the picture and begins speaking to her. His memory is slowly starting to return but he barely remembers who he is.
For an Xbox 360 game that launched in 2006, Lost Planet looks amazing. There are games on the Xbox One and PS4 that don’t look like Lost Planet and Lost Planet is 14 years old at the time of this review! The game plays like an arcade shooter, and it reminded me of almost a rail shooter during the first few missions. You’ll have a target circle that you’ll move throughout the screen like in Time Crisis or any arcade shooters from the 90s. I have to comment on the explosion of barrels too, there is just something so satisfying about shooting them and watching them explode into a smooth fiery, and smokey mix. It all looked great.
You don’t have many games like this but it worked and it was unique. You can zoom in and make it a first-person shooter if you want but it’s best to play in the third-person. There are numerous weapons to pick up for Wayne with each being effective against Akrids, snow pirates, and NEVAC. My favorite ended up being the plasma rifle as it had infinite ammo and was very powerful. When you aren’t running around with Wayne you can hop in VS units during the missions. These are also fun and unique with customizable weapons for them. Sometimes in order to progress through a level or defeat a boss, you’ll need a VS.
Speaking of Boss fights, they were my favorite aspect of Lost Planet. Each one was unique and each one challenging in their own way. The Akrid fights reminded me of the monster you’ll face in the series Dead Space with weak points being highlighted yellow. Every mission ends in a boss fight and the bosses have a life meter to let you know how you’re doing. I loved the fights and thought they were fun even when I died a few times before figuring it out. I miss boss fights in modern video games, so to see Lost Planet highlight that aspect made me enjoy my experience even more.
The controls for Wayne were fine but I feel they could have input a sprint button or a duck/roll feature. I said this game felt like a rail shooter, and it does because you are Wayne running at a single pace without ducking or rolling. It’s not bad, just different but I do wish they included some type of way for Wayne to avoid bullets besides hiding behind objects. While you’ll battle tons of fun enemies, you’ll also battle the “clock”. Wayne can take tons of damage as long as he has thermal energy. You typically start with 999 units of thermal energy but it is always draining. You can reach up to 10,000 units of energy but throughout every mission, you can pick up energy very easily by destroying water-tower like units of energy or killing Akrids that have energy seeping out of their corpses. So what does this energy do for you? Well, it protects you from the cold and helps heal you when hurt. Your health bar can reach zero but if you have energy, it will automatically heal you. All your actions suck energy from your stock so if you are jumping or are in a VS, the energy will drain faster as opposed to you just running. If you run out of energy, your life bar will deplete from the cold and if you are killed by an enemy you won’t be revived which results in a “Mission Failed”. You might think this element of gameplay causes anxiety to constantly search for energy but it doesn’t. It goes down at a slow rate and unless you are strolling through the snow and admiring the wildlife you won’t be in danger of running out.
After every mission, you’ll get a cut scene that lasts a few minutes advancing the story. I loved this as it was a little reward for a job well done. Even though the story was confusing, I always was excited to see what was coming next. Before you begin the next mission, the game lays out a nice objectives menu telling you what to expect in the next level and what you need to accomplish. Again, it felt like a video game from the 80s or 90s but made in the mid-2000s. It was great.
I vaguely remember seeing commercials for Lost Planet but completely forgot about it until I picked it up from a used video game store. I even discovered it has two sequels!
Story-telling isn’t the strong point in Lost Planet, but it doesn’t have to be. The arcade-like action and gorgeous graphics for the early Xbox 360 game should be more than enough to keep you playing. You’ll have plenty of fun taking on huge bosses and listening to the unique cast of characters ramble on about whatever confusing story plot they are arguing about. The inclusion of VS units adds another layer to gameplay and keeps combat fresh. This is one game you shouldn’t pass up, it’s unique and has plenty to offer for anyone trying to find a game that went under the radar.
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition scores an 8.9 out of 10.
Do you remember when Lost Planet first came out? What did you think of the plot and were you able to follow it? Did you like battling as Wayne or in the VS more? What other hidden gems are there on the Xbox 360? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.
If you’d like to own a copy of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, you can purchase a used copy of it for the Xbox 360 for $6 on eBay.