May 6, 2013

The Pressing Concerns of Lost Planet 3

 

Lost Planet 3 is out on August 27th and I couldn’t be more scared for the title. I am not scared because it is a frightening game by any means; I am scared because of a few factors that may deter this long time fan. Ever since the original Lost Planet, I have loved the series. Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions showed what Capcom’s MT Framework engine was capable of in its early stages and brought a huge sense of scale with it. Granted there were typical Japanese game design flaws though out the title, invisible walls for one example, but the title was a new IP and showed huge potential of the next gen hardware. Lost Planet combined good third person combat, with mechs, large insect like creatures (the Akrid), and a frozen wasteland. The second title took what made the first game great, melted the planet down a bit to have lush and varied terrain, added a Monster Hunter like 4 player co-op, and continued the superb multiplayer that the first title had. The third entry to this unique IP was announced last year. Lost Planet 3 is going to be a prequel to the first two installments, set on the same planet, but showing how NEVEC came to the planet and eventually became the antagonist of the series. I was intrigued by all of this; a return to the frozen wastelands of EDN III; giant, frozen Akrid to battle, a return to level style of the first title, and the possibility of seeing what an upgraded MT Framework could really do with this world. The details started to come out and that’s when I started to worry.

 

The game is not being internally developed like the previous titles. The game will not run on the MT Framework engine. The game is keeping series creator and director Kenji Oguro, but is just staying on as the Franchise Creative Director. There has been a recent move towards western developers creating games in Capcom’s seminal franchises. Ninja Theory had there go with DmC: Devil May Cry, I did the review and absolutely loved it despite the fan boy groan over the look and feel of the game. Slant Six had their shot at Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, and was a critical and commercial failure. Blue Castle Games took a crack at Dead Rising 2, and was a success. Blue Castle Games was later purchased by Capcom and renamed Capcom Vancouver. Lost Planet 3 is being developed by Spark Unlimited. Spark Unlimited is known for having decent ideas in the story department and then failing miserably in everything else. The only game they made that, in my opinion was decent, was Call of Duty: Finest Hour that hit in 2004. Since then they went on to create two utter sinkers in Turning Point: Fall of Liberty and Legendary. This is the first of my worries, granted LP was reviewed better than LP2 but they have a much better critical reception then all of Spark Unlimited’s previous efforts. This is problem number one.

 

Problem number two consists of the absence of the MT Framework engine. The MT Framework is capable of beautiful titles like the Lost Planet series, Dragon’s Dogma, Resident Evil 5 and 6, Devil May Cry 4, and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (the Ultimate version included). MT Framework has a mobile version as well running stunning portable titles such as Resident Evil: Revelations (3DS), Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition (3DS), Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS) and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (Vita). Lost Planet 3 will be running on the Unreal 3 engine, which it and I have a love/hate relationship. Like MT Framework, Unreal 3 is capable of some truly stunning games like the Mass Effect Trilogy, the Gears of War series, Bioshock: Infinite, DmC: Devil May Cry, the Batman Arkham titles, the Borderlands franchise,  Dishonored, Mortal Kombat (2011), and Injustice: Gods Among Us. It is also capable of some truly horrendous looking titles such as Homefront, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, X-Men: Destiny, and Hour of Victory. Unreal 3 has also its share of technical limitations, especially in its net code; Games with dedicated servers such as Gears of War 3 and Homefront fair better then game that rely on peer to peer such as the Gears 1 & 2, Section 8 (Prejudice included), Monday Night Combat, and Mortal Kombat. Any time a developer announces the use of Unreal 3, outside of Epic Games, I am leery towards the title until I have the finished product. The trailers for Lost Planet 3’s multiplayer look solid, but it is just a trailer and needs to be left at that until the final product is released. Lost Planet and Lost Planet 2 had me dump several hours into the multiplayer and to enjoyment. The game was bigger with European and Japanese players, which was a nice change of pace. I met some of my European Xbox Live friends because of these titles.

 

Despite my worries over the engine being used and the use of a developer that has yet to prove they can make a good game, I am interested. I do like seeing other people’s takes on my favorite stories and franchises, but I always have reservations until proven otherwise. Ninja Theory did a great job on DmC; despite being a little lacking in the content department, I loved People Can Fly’s take on Gear of War with Judgment. There may be hope with Spark Unlimited and Lost Planet 3. MercurySteam made the poor Clive Barkers: Jericho and then turned around to produce Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Lords of Shadow did well enough to get a 3DS direct sequel, and a follow up to the console title. Rocksteady started with Urban Chaos: Riot Response, a mediocre shooter on the Xbox and PS2. Rocksteady then went on to create the best reviewed super hero titles of all time with Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Arkham City (which received a perfect score from us). The videos are inspiring, the screen shots look, good but I am still reserved on how I feel. Would you see The Dark Knight Rises, if instead of Christopher Nolan directing, Michael (massive explosions) Bay was directing? I loved the previous Lost Planet titles and the Japanese feel made them special. Big Godzilla like creatures, slower combat, and piloting Mechs was something you typically don’t get in a western action game. The one thing that really has me excited for this title is Jack Wall will be composing the score. Jack Wall is famous for being part of the duo that created Video Games Live as well as composing such soundtracks as Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Jade Empire, and Myst IV: Revelation. Mass Effect 2 is the peak of the franchise and the soundtrack echoes that; “Suicide Mission” and “The Normandy Reborn” are stellar works. Lost Planet 3 still has a few months to incubate and hopefully will be a title that Spark Unlimited can be proud of and birth a better image for the studio.

 

Lost Planet 3

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