Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2 lost it.

Lost Planet was a straight-ahead shooter that distinguished itself with its large, harsh landscape. Set on the snow-covered planet of E.D.N. III, the game made survival precarious. It was only by battling the native life forms and dominant government that I was able to scrape together the energy required to keep myself from freezing.

The sequel, however, has migrated to warmer climates. E.D.N.

III has accumulated deserts and sprouted jungles, making it much more like a generic videogame planet instead of, well, Lost Planet. It also makes it possible for me to walk through water and sand with as little effect as when I passed through snow.

In the first game, the flat, bland world made some sense. The emphasis was on the shooting and surviving. I wasn’t supposed to worry that I wasn’t leaving tracks or having a tough time slogging through snowdrifts. But as E.D.N. III’s environment has diversified, the detail of my character’s actions in it should also expand. Instead, I pass through ponds without sending so much as a ripple.

After Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, where the environment was deadly and active, this feels lazy. Without the snow, I now need to kill monsters just because it’s a videogame and I have a gun in my hand. The jungle environment is just a jungle, and the monster juice is merely health for when I get hurt.

Instead of a unified environment and scenario, Lost Planet 2 seems to be geared toward confrontations with large alien monsters. Towering with all of the power of current-generation game consoles, the big bad guys are usually fixed in space, emerging from the ground or water, and they only share space with me when they reach out to smash me or send a gob of toxic goo flying my way. For the most part, it feels like I’m standing in front of a wraparound movie screen and battling a hi-res rear projection.

I’m sure they’d love to get out and lumber around Lost Planet 2 a little more. I know I would. I’m even equipped with a grappling hook. But instead of using it to ascend towering architectural features or zoom across vast expanses (as I did in Just Cause 2 and Batman: Arkham Asylum), I barely use it to scale obstacles and rappel down steep slopes. Most of the action remains on a single plane — straightahead shooting. At least that hasn’t changed.

THE GOOD: Like the first game, Lost Planet 2 occasionally allows me to climb into a mechanized suit of armor and attack my foes in the form of a walking, stalking machine gun. During these sequences, the game takes on the heightened sensations of being big and powerful. Too bad it doesn’t last.

THE BAD: My enemies act like numbskulls. When guarding a room with two doors and three windows, they stay facing the same corner and don’t seem to mind when I walk in and shoot them. They like to stand together in grenade-friendly clusters, and they often refuse to shoot me until I haul out my own gun and engage them.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Lost Planet 2 lost it.

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