Lost in Space
Its freezing cold, my mech is tumbling wildly to the side as I take yet another brutal assault from a rolling Akrid and Iím looking at the HUD to see the mechís structural integrity falling rapidly with each failed block. It might feel a bit like an extended QTE where Iím meant to tap the right bumper to intercept the Akrid roller and smack it down, but Iím hitting other buttons and loving the fact I can do this without needing to block. Iím testing Jim Peytonís (my) Rig to destruction and I couldnít be happier.
The X button punches the Akrid with the Rigís arm and then itís stunned, I grab it with the other and lift it up to introduce the varmint to about 10,000 RPM of titanium-tipped spinning deathkill, itís a great feeling and you might actually be soul-dead if you donít appreciate the use of a good Rig based drill grind-down on the enemy.
Golden glowing T-Energy fills the screen as the blood of the Akrid rains down onto my Rigís cockpit glass, the whine of the drill mixes intoxicatingly with the screams of the dying creature. The atmosphere here created by the mix of the graphics, the sound and the feeling of physical combat totally works and itís making me remember Pacific Rim and in a good way.
Iím all too focussed on my impending victory to notice the other rolling Akrid, it hits my Rig like a freight-train and the warning siren sounds. Iím ejected automatically onto the cold frosty ground of EDN-III. Am I scared?
I should be, because the Akrid looks menacingly larger now Iím down on the ground and heís brought some friends. Thereís a nimble monstrous panther-like beastie and some smaller annoying Akrid that move around and try and get a good chunk out of my hide as I roll to the side. My weapon of choice is a shotgun, a meaty thing that spits leaden death in a variety of special weapon ammo flavours Ė in this case itís a bounce shot and itís pretty damn effective.
I manage to toss a grenade into the charging panther-Akridís open maw and it goes boom with a satisfying chunky explosion, bringing the large beast sliding to a halt before it shuffles off to a better place. The shotgun puts pay to the annoying mini-Akrid as I keep out of the way of them, their rolling big comrade and dive nimbly to the side of the Rig Ė right into the wash of lights cast by the really smooth looking graphics.
The Rig looks fantastic if a little beat up at the moment, but I know the self-repair circuits are working overtime and soon Iíll be back in the driving seat Ė just got to hold out a little longer. All around me more Akrid are swarming and the roller is getting ready for another blast.
Iím knocked off my feet this time and that hurts, I let him have a few shells from the shotgun and then itís off to the side again. I keep moving because staying in one spot ends in a grisly death so Iím told. Iím not going to go down like that! Iíve fought the Covenant, the Locust and more space aliens than you can shake an XCOM at.
The Rig rises up and the lights brighten, I rush toward it and hit the enter button. Jimís harness snaps us up into the cockpit and in a few seconds Iím able to stun the final roller. Now its payback time, as I lift the big monster right up into the whirling drill arm Iím getting Big Daddy flashbacks from Bioshock and grinning like I just won the Space Derby. Itís over all too soon and I sit back from the fight thinking Ė yeah, this is a good game.
The Rig controls were a little awkward at first, but like climbing into a copter in Battlefield 3 or GTA IV - once you get used to them it feels pretty decent. These arenít the agile mechs of Titanfall or anime here, this is a work Rig and it feels cumbersome Ė not a finely honed war machine.
I flip to my HUD and check my mission objective. Iím looking for a side mission, to plant a T-ENG post out here in the vicious EDN-III. Itís not too far now and I decide I need a bit of Rig trundling music Ė so I flip to the in-Rig stereo and the game scans my networked music on my network.
Soon thereís Wanted: Dead or Alive playing in the background and I eject down to gather up resources and poke around for secrets.
The music sounds different in the harsh outdoors, played over the Rigís external speakers and I gather up the fallen T-ENG scraps. This is now my currency for buying upgrades to the Rig and weapons/mods/upgrades for Jimís arsenal.
I like the feel of the game. I like the on-foot controls and they feel natural as I explore even more. I really like Jim, heís come across as a genuine guy and through various cut-scenes he is brought to life with some of the most amazing facial animation that the Unreal Engine can offer. Itís fantastic stuff and when combined with the animation of the game in general itís really quite a decent all-round package.
Jimís relationship with his wife is explored in video logs and communications that he sends back home, it helps ground the character and give him more heart and soul than a dozen G.I. Joe cut-out clones.
My scavenging leads to a couple of scraps with minor Akrid, theyíre wasted without too much of a problem and their T-ENG will help to bolster my resources too.
I notice that the mission marker isnít far away from where I need to be, so I step lively. I am being brave as all around me the hostile planet of EDN-III is brought to life through sharp visuals and even sharper sound-design. Thereís a big storm just in the distance and Iíve seen one of those up close and personal. I know it was a scripted event but it was amazing really. The game does a good job of presenting these big areas as part of an overall sandbox and whilst thereí s loading for Lost Planet 3, if they decide to push this angle onto Next Gen then those loading screens will be a thing of the past.
Navigating around is easy thanks to the mini-map and the expansive mission map/log system.
So, I get to the mission marker and I notice that one by one as I step further away from my Rigís HUD umbilical connection elements of my HUD are going dark one by one. Fading away before my eyes, itís kind of horrific in a good atmospheric way and one of the nice little touches that makes Lost Planet 3 kind of neat.
Soon I have no HUD and I am all alone out here in the Akrid infested tunnels, shooting bugs and having more fun in the game than Iíve had in the recent slew of Alien games. All save for AVP and AVP 2 since they were superb entries to the franchise. In many places Lost Planet 3 feels like on-foot in AVP 1&2 albeit in 3rd person; with a decent movement and combat control system and a passable cover system too. Itís not doing anything amazing or fantastic, but it works and thatís what matters.
With my T-ENG post finally planted I make my way past more Akrid, down to my pistol only now and forced to dish out less damage but with endless ammo. You need it too, the Akrid swarms are relentless and they can come from damn-near anywhere.
As the HUD elements fade back in and I hear the strains of yet more music from the Rig, I know Iím getting closer. The welcome lights of the Rig shine through the area and soon Iím back in the safe and warm cab. Itís time to return to the HQ and cash in some of these T-ENG credits for more goodies.